Samantha Shannon on Writing During College

By Maryann Yin 

SamanthaShannon1by Mark Pringle

How does one manage a full-time college schedule and write a novel at the same time?

We spoke with young adult author Samantha Shannon (pictured, via) to find out how she wrote The Bone Season while studying at Oxford University. Check out the highlights from our interview below…

Bloomsbury USA released her novel (the first in a seven-book series) in August. That same month, the book was selected as the inaugural title to kickoff The Today Show book club.

Q: How did you land your book deal?
A: I started The Bone Season in the summer of 2011 during an internship at a literary agency in Seven Dials, a small district in central London. I remember the word ‘clairvoyance’ coming to me while I was working there; I’ve since seen shops in the area selling crystal balls and Tarot cards and the like, so I think the idea just came into my head subliminally. I imagined a girl having the exact same day at work as I was, but she happened to be clairvoyant. I merged the idea with a previous thought I’d had of writing a supernatural dystopia in Oxford, and the combined plots snowballed into The Bone Season. I sent it to my agent early in 2012 – the same agent I’d worked for in Seven Dials – and he took it to the London Book Fair, where it was picked up by Bloomsbury.

Q: How did you juggle your academic career at Oxford University while writing a book?
A: Good timekeeping and a lot of coffee. I used to work on The Bone Season in the evening and at weekends, once I’d finished my essays.

Q: What advice do you have for young aspiring writers who are also full-time students?
A: Get hold of a diary and split up your days into chunks. Put time aside for both essays and writing, and try your utmost to stick to your schedule – but don’t stress yourself out. Allow yourself some time to relax and procrastinate as well as work.

Q: How do you self-edit?
A: First I go through the chapters and chop out any unnecessary words or sentences. Then I do larger structural edits, then return to the minutiae: plot holes, repetition, continuity and so on.

Q: What’s next for you?
A: Book 2!