Back in March Waterstone’s Sheffield tweeted asking for bloggers in the local area to attend the Samantha Shannon book event. As an avid reader, and also as someone interested in the book world I quickly responded asking for more information. I was sent a DM asking for my email so all the information could be sent to me. One of the perks to being invited along as the blogger for the night was that I was able to put a few of my own questions to Samantha in the comfort of the back room in the store. A very glitzy place especially after a power cut in the city centre…
I will mention here that I have only read her first book, The Bone Season, and I first read it a couple of years ago. In the weeks leading up to the event I re-read the book so that I could remember more of the story itself, and think of some questions to ask. I wasn’t sure how many bloggers were attending, so I wasn’t sure on how many questions to ask. I managed to come up with 3. At least I managed some! Samantha was really friendly and down to earth, and really easy to talk to, which made me feel a lot more at ease.
Q1: Do you prefer to use paper or a computer to write? I much prefer a computer. It’s easier to edit on and no hand cramps!
Q2: What other genre would you like to write if you got the chance? I would really like to write sci-fi. Something like Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot. But I’d want to make it my own, find my own space in the genre.
Q3: Do you have the entire series planned out or does it change with each new addition? I think it’s fully planned but it can always change along the way and I have a broad plan for each book but the substance in between can change. I know what the ending is going to be but it’s not rigid.
After these initial questions, we went onto talking generally about books and publishing. Samantha mentioned how she only considers herself a writer from the around the age of 12, despite having written many things before. She explained that this was when she first had a novel fully completed. It was really nice to be able to sit and have a chat with someone in such a carefree manner. Soon enough though it was time for the actual event.
Samantha started the event by giving a quick reading from her book, “The Bone Season”. She explained it wasn’t from her new book as she didn’t want to give any spoilers to those who hadn’t had the chance to get through it. There’s something about hearing a book segment spoken aloud. I don’t know what it is but it seems to possess a magical quality to me. Perhaps because usually I’m stuck with the voice in my own head!
When Samantha finished reading the floor was open for questions from the audience. Their questions were a little better than mine, but they had read the second book (The Mime Order) and some had read A Song Rising as well. The questions were really interesting, and gave a bit more insight into the series itself and the way that Samantha Shannon goes through the process of thinking out the stories a little more.
Someone asked about the newest book and the way in which it had become darker, and if that was the way she was wanting to take it. Samantha explained that the series was due to go down a much darker path but this one in particular was quite difficult to get through. This was due to a torture scene that has been included and the research that was involved to make it seem as realistic as possible. I think this is the part of writing that I tend to forget about. I’m not sure if I would be able to do it.
Another question was if Samantha enjoyed experimenting with her series. She explained there are two ways to write a series. You either do a rinse and repeat story line for each book (ie Harry Potter) or you make each book have a different location and pathway. She said that she preferred the latter as it opened up more possibilities; explaining that A Song Rising was more for action fans, even though she didn’t like writing the fighting scenes. She felt that it was easy to fall into a repetitive pattern with them and become boring.
On the other hand, she was able to write a slower book like The Mime Order and she didn’t have to worry as much. Except for a huge battle that takes place at the end of the book. Samantha has said that she believes the fourth book will be similar to The Mime Order. Perhaps because the pacing will also be slow?
Of course everyone wanted to know about the relationship between Paige and Warden. And who isn’t a sucker for a bit of romance? Samantha Shannon stated she prefers slow burn relationships. Ones where the relationship is developed and delved into in a more natural progression. It’s true that you don’t just fall in love with someone, I’m not denying there is often instant attraction and chemistry. But that doesn’t result in a relationship, no matter how much we may dream of it! Samantha did say there was more in store for the pair but it will take its time.
She went on to describe a little bit more about Warden. It appears that he was originally from a different story line to the Bone Season, although his personality has changed! She also said he has been the most rewarding part of the series as he is so fascinating yet difficult to capture. And being a figure from a Gothic novel, I can understand why. The dark foreboding, broodiness of the character does make me think a little of Heathcliffe from Wuthering Heights. Samantha mentioned that she wanted to try and make him into a believably immortal character, by allowing him to se the long term goal of result of an action. In contrast to someone doing something for the immediate result. It does make his character seem a little cold and distant at times, but we were assured he is definitely passionate!
One of my favourite things that was mentioned is how Samantha Shannon has been influenced by her own travelling. She wants her world to show the entire world and not be London-centric. It would be easy to focus solely on London, so many others do. It is something I find kind of refreshing. The idea was to include diversity within the characters, and how different cultures experience Scion Britain. She also wanted to be able to show how other governments were reacting to what was happening. It’s not something I’ve seen happen in dystopian stories, but it is an interesting take and it makes me excited to read more. Even more so when you find out that the Scion isn’t in every country.
Something that a lot of authors are doing now is including a playlist of the music that they listen to whilst writing. Samantha isn’t any different. She has a Spotify account with playlists dedicated to the books. But she explained that she has a weird taste and listens to a lot of genres. She also uses music in the books as a device. Paige’s relationship with music is a way for her to connect to the outside world. That’s why she has such a focus on American music. She sees America as the land of the free, and out of Scion’s reach. A place for hope, happiness and freedom. It’s weird that she uses an old image of America here, especially as it might not be one that people associate with it now.
Just before the question section finished I thought up another question to ask. I’m always curious how other writers get over their writer’s block. Samantha said what I’ve heard many others in the past say as well. She takes a step back and gives herself breathing space. By removing herself from that project completely she can come back to it with a clear head. It’s good advice really, and if many people say it then it must help. I’m not so sure they mean give it the space I tend to do! I think I need to work on my own efforts in that respect.
The event ended with the chance to get a copy of your book signed. And you could get a copy yourself if you didn’t already. I can never pass up the chance to buy more books so I treated myself to The Bone Season and The Mime Order. Now I need to find a safe place for them that isn’t my floor!
Hasta la fuego
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