Samantha Shannon knows a thing or two about big expectations. Though it’s probably not fair to a 21-year-old debut novelist, there have been early comparisons of her exciting new book, The Bone Season–the first of a projected seven book series–to another British novelist with a modestly popular seven book series.

Shannon, herself a huge fan of J.K. Rowling (she recently tweeted a Rowling birthday message “Thank you for my childhood, and may you never be replaced”) politely deflects comparisons to the Harry Potter author in our Bibliostar.TV interview.

“It’s been very overwhelming. It’s been fantastic, as well, obviously. I didn’t expect it to be this big. I do wince at the ‘next J.K. Rowling’ thing because obviously it does feel like big shoes to fill. It has been quite nerve-wracking in that way. But I’m really excited and I’m really pleased that there’s been so much early interest in the book.”

The Bone Season introduces us to 19-year-old clairvoyant “dreamwalker” named Paige Mahoney living in the dystopian world of 2059 London. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige works in the crime syndicate of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals, scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Soon, Page is sent to a penal colony where she encounters an even darker world of supernatural creatures–and the series hurtles forward on that premise. Bloomsbury is marketing the book to adults, but it’s clear that The Bone Season will draw young adult readers as well, in a way similar to The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and other series with crossover appeal.

Publisher Bloomsbury purchased The Bone Season for a six-figure sum (for the first three books), with rights now sold in 21 countries. Building on the buzz, film rights have also been sold to The Imaginarium Studios, the cutting-edge performance capture studio co-founded by actor Andy Serkis (“Gollum” from The Lord of the Rings movies) and Jonathan Cavendish.

Shannon started writing very young, and in fact penned a previous book while still a teenager that was rejected by every agent and publisher she sent it to, temporarily crushing her writing spirit and sending her into an emotional funk. But Shannon turned that negative experience around after a short stint as an intern with the literary agent David Godwin–one of the agents that turned down her original novel. While working for Godwin, she realized that her first book wasn’t up to snuff. “It was a really, really bad book,” Shannon explained. “When I look back on it, I can completely see why agents wouldn’t take it. It was very clunkyโ€ฆit was kind of a Twilight knockoff, really.”

She also absorbed much about the publishing process during her internship–a process she chronicles extensively on her blog, A Book From The Beginning–and kept at it. The result of her resilience: The Bone Season, a new agent (yes, the very same David Godwin who turned down her first book and hired Shannon as an intern), and one of the most buzzed books of the year.

For now though, despite the hype and hoopla, the poised young writer is simply enjoying the moment, still living with her mother. She’s spending most of her time writing the followup books in the series, a process she expects will consume her for many years. “I’m very wrapped up in the world of The Bone Season and very emotionally invested in the characters, so I think it will be quite difficult for me to write anything else while I’m writing it.” Now though, she writes as an author on the verge of literary stardom.

The Bone Season Trailer


Recorded at Book Expo America, New York, 2013.
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