Most 19-year-olds are too busy working their way through college or their first full-time jobs to sit down and write a novel. Samantha Shannon, the author of publishing blockbuster The Bone Season, somehow managed to balance her school commitments with writing, and the result is the first installment of a series many in the book industry are comparing to Harry Potter.
That’s high praise, but what is it that makes Shannon so special?
It’s hard to get published at any age, but landing a six-figure book deal within months of graduating from college is almost unheard of. It’s easy to understand her success, though, when you look at Shannon’s creation.
She found the idea for her book, which follows a teenage girl in 2059 London who must fight to make society safe for clairvoyants like herself, while on a lunch break from her internship at a London literary agency. Her fictionalized version of London is bursting with life, including an underground crime world, people with various clairvoyant abilities and intricate, book-specific slang. It is so intricately detailed that it feels real and makes things all the more gripping.
Where most of us enjoy our daydreams for a few minutes and then forget about them, Shannon’s idea stuck with her and she began writing as soon as she could get her hands on a pen and paper. She continued writing between classes at St. Anne’s College, Oxford, and gained the courage to pursue publication after workshopping the first segment of the book with author Ali Smith who had been her creative writing instructor.
Shannon began her writing career at a young age. Her first novel, Aurora, was written when she was 15 years old. Although it remains unpublished, her experience sending it to literary agents resulted in more than just rejection letters – through this process, Shannon made connections with David Godwin, the literary agent she would later intern with and who would go on to represent The Bone Season in its publishing stages.
She sent the book to Godwin for feedback after she’d finished writing, and he loved it. From there, the book exploded.
Publishing rights to the book were purchased by Bloomsbury for £100,000 (a bit over $137,000 in U.S. currency). They will publish a minimum of the first three installments of the projected seven-book series. Movie rights were purchased shortly after by The Imaginarium, a London-based studio founded in 2011 by actor and filmmaker Andy Serkis and producer Jonathan Cavendish.
A tremendous amount of buzz surrounded the book’s publishing, and it soon climbed to the top of many individuals’ must-read piles. It became the first book in the Today Show’s book club.
Because Shannon’s series will potentially reach seven books and resides firmly in the fantasy and dystopia genres, many reviewers made comparisons between Shannon and J.K. Rowling. Although many fantasy writers might devour this type of praise, Shannon is not one of them. She has stated in many interviews that the comparisons make her uncomfortable because she deeply respects Rowling’s work.
The Bone Season debuted at #7 on the New York Times’ bestseller list. According to Neilsen BookScan, the book sold 7,000 hardcover copies in its first seven days on sale. It also spent three weeks on USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list where it reached #18 at its peak.
The Bone Season is currently available in hardcover and e-book format. The second book of the series is expected in 2014.
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Hi! I’m Abbie. I’m a Wisconsin girl who just completed a degree in journalism, which I hope will help me achieve my goal of reading books and writing about them for a living. In my free time, I enjoy reading, watching Doctor Who and hanging out with my boyfriend and his two cats.
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