I talk about many subjects in detail in this blog – you can use the word cloud to navigate – but if you'd like a quick answer, this is the page for you. If your question hasn't been addressed here, please feel free to leave a comment on any blog entry, and I'll do my best to answer.How did you come up with the idea for the series?
My writing process
- How did you come up with the idea for the series?
- When is the next book coming out?
- Are you working on anything else?
- Has the book been translated?
- I'm a blogger. How can I get review copies of your books?
- How many books are in the Bone Season series?
- Will there be a film adaptation?
- I'm an actor. Can I be in the film?
- What are your biggest influences?
- If you were clairvoyant, what would you be?
- Have you published anything else?
- Have you written On the Merits of Unnaturalness?
- Can I get my book signed?
My writing process
- What's your daily routine?
- How do you plan your chapters?
- Have you planned out the whole series?
- How long does it take you to write a book?
- Do you ever write to music?
- I have an idea for a novel, but I don't know how to start writing it. Any tips?
- How do I get an agent?
- Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
- Will you read my manuscript?
- How do I contact you?
I got the core idea from walking around the real-life Seven Dials when I was doing an internship there in 2011. There are shops there that sell crystal balls and tarot cards and the like, and I started wondering what it would be like if there were a society of clairvoyants living in a dystopian London. I rolled that together with a second idea I’d had about supernatural creatures being in charge of Oxford, where I was studying English Language and Literature at St Anne's College, and The Bone Season emerged from those two ideas colliding.
When is the next book coming out?
The Song Rising will be out in November 2016. It's available for pre-order on Amazon here, and should be available from other retailers very soon.
Are you working on anything else?
Aside from the Bone Season series, I'm also working on a high fantasy novel. I have no idea whether or not it will be published, but fingers crossed!
Has the book been translated?
Yes! Release dates and details on translations can be found here.
I'm a blogger. How can I get review copies of your books?
I'm afraid this is completely out of my hands – the marketing team at Bloomsbury is in charge of distribution. You can request ARCs through NetGalley and Edelweiss if and when they become available.
How many books will be in the Bone Season series?
Will there be a film adaptation?
Film rights for The Bone Season are currently held by The Imaginarium Studios, Chernin Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox. So far we have producers and a double-Oscar nominated screenwriter on board. Film is a slow process and as such, I don't yet know when it will be released. More information can be found here:
- Imaginarium announces inaugural slate of films
- Fox, Chernin acquire The Bone Season from Andy Serkis
I'm an actor. Can I be in the film?
I don't currently have any information about casting for the film adaptation, and although I hope to be involved in it, I won't have sole control. If I'm made aware of any open auditions, I will update this page.
What are your biggest influences?
Some of the books that inspired me to write The Bone Season were The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham, the poetry of John Donne and Emily Dickinson, and the works of the Brontë sisters.
If you were clairvoyant, what would you be?
A bibliomancer, I think. There are various ways to practice bibliomancy (e.g. allowing a book to fall open at a random page and using the first words to identify something about the querent), but generally, it refers to connecting to the æther through books. Bibliomancers find true joy in reading and value books above all other objects. They also have one book – their numen – to which they become intimately connected. One of the worst things you could do to a bibliomancer would be to leave them without books for an extended period of time.
Have you published anything else?
I have one published short story, Amrita, written for Vogue India in 2013. It's based on Hindu mythology and looks at the eternal conflict between the asuras and the devas in a fictionalised Jaipur.
Have you written On the Merits of Unnaturalness?
I have indeed written the whole pamphlet, with detailed descriptions of each clairvoyant type, including their history. Bloomsbury made a limited-edition run of physical copies as part of a pre-order campaign for The Mime Order, but all of them have been taken. I’m really hoping they will make it available as an eBook or an online extra at some point in the near future – I’ll keep you updated.
Can I get my book signed?
I did briefly offer a signing service, but this is now closed, as I just can't expect the staff at Bloomsbury to handle packing and shipping outside their other responsibilities. I'm considering negotiating with a bookshop to make sure they always have signed copies.
My writing process
What's your daily routine?
I get up in the morning between 7am and 8am and make myself a big cup of coffee, check my emails and do social media or blogging, and start writing around noon. I tend to write slowly but solidly until quite late at night. I aim to sleep at around 11pm but often the writing urge will kick in when it turns dark, and I’ll end up writing past 1am. I usually write for at least seven or eight hours a day, if not more.
How do you plan your chapters?
I tend to have a rough idea of how long I want my chapters to be: somewhere between 14 and 25 pages in manuscript form (A4, double-spaced, 12pt), typically broken into two or three sections. If they’re over or under that, though, it isn’t the end of the world – what matters is stopping the chapter where it feels natural to stop. Transition is also important; you need the reader to want to read on, to be curious enough to turn the next page. It’s almost like writing a series of twenty-odd cliffhangers. Chapters can be any length and have any number of sections, though – as with all literature, there are no hard-and-fast rules.
Have you planned out the whole series?
I didn’t plan out the whole series as soon as I got the idea for The Bone Season – I’m still having fresh ideas for the other novels now. It didn’t all come at once; it was all about layering, building up the world like an onion. All I knew that the story would be big, and that ideally, it would take up several novels. A few of the clues for other books were introduced during the editing process, as when I was writing the first draft, I wasn’t sure if a publisher would want to sign me on for a long series. I use what I call the “flesh-and-bones” planning structure, where I have the skeletal outline of the plot and all the important “joints” and twists (including the ending of the series), but I leave room for manoeuvre and for the characters to flesh the story out themselves. Often they just won’t do as they’re told, and I have to allow for that. Also, on a more general note, I think it takes the fun out of writing if you make yourself stick to a rigid planning structure. I like to know my destination, but not precisely how I’ll reach it. Most of my notes live in my head, although I do have a couple of notebooks in which I make mind maps, explore characters’ goals and motives and note down new plot ideas (which I usually have in the middle of the night). Sometimes it’s helpful to have something physical to look at so you can see how things link up.
How long does it take you to write a book?
The length of time it takes me depends on all sorts of things. My first attempt at a novel (which went through numerous edits and "versions") took about three years altogether, primarily because I was still at secondary school and had to juggle writing with homework, classes and real life, but the first draft of The Bone Season only took six months, as I loved telling the story in Paige's voice and I managed my time much more efficiently.
Do you ever write to music?
Not always – sometimes I find it too distracting – but I usually edit with music, especially instrumental music without lyrics or something soft and relaxing that doesn't encroach on my train of thought. Raised by Swans' No Ghostless Place is one of my absolute favourite albums. I also love listening to film soundtracks and trailer music: Two Steps from Hell, James Newton Howard, Ramin Djawadi, Trevor Morris, Hans Zimmer, Future World Music.
I have an idea for a novel, but I don't know how to start writing it. Any tips?
Some writers start from the beginning of the story, some from the end, some from a random point in the middle. What matters is that they start somewhere. I think one of Jack London’s quotes is relevant here: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” This is just my personal opinion, but I think your best bet for starting a book – especially when you’re building an imaginary world – is often just to get a rough idea of the setting, drop a character into it, and start writing. Choose any point in the story and write something, anything. Whatever takes your fancy, whether it’s a pivotal scene or your protagonist eating breakfast. You’ve already done the really hard bit, which is finding good ideas. Don’t worry if you don’t know every tiny corner of the world or every last twist in the plot; you can always go back and edit your work. It’s like working up the courage to jump into a freezing cold pool: once you’re in the water, you’ll start swimming.
How do I get an agent?
I've written a blog post here about finding an agent, but the best resource I can offer is definitely The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook, which is updated every year with information on agents. You can also apply for bespoke mentoring, constructive advice and writing workshops on the site. When you write to an agent, keep the three Cs in mind: Calm, Courteous and Confident.
Will you read my manuscript?
Unfortunately, for legal reasons, I can't read any unpublished or self-published work. My agent and publisher won't pass it on to me, so please don't send it. You can get lots of helpful feedback from fellow writers and readers on sites like FictionPress and WattPad, but remember, literature is subjective – trust your gut instinct first.
How can I contact you?
I'm represented by the good folks at David Godwin Associates (DGA), London. General enquiries should go to Philippa Sitters (firstname.lastname@example.org). PR enquiries should be directed to Philippa Cotton (UK, email@example.com), Sara Mercurio (US, firstname.lastname@example.org) or Brendan Fredericks (Australia, email@example.com) at Bloomsbury Publishing.
You can contact me directly via this blog, Tumblr or Twitter.
I always love to hear from readers. Due to my workload I'm not currently replying to letters, but if you'd like to write to me, please feel free to do so at the following address:
c/o Bloomsbury Publishing
50 Bedford Square