At first I didn’t realize that Samantha Shannon was The Author. I don’t quite know who I was expecting but my little experience with the person behind the books involved Rainbow Rowell and Leigh Bardugo equipped with their own American bodyguards. And Shannon looked quite young to already have an up and coming septology published in her name.
Then it was the accent. We were in Manchester town center on the top floor of the largest Waterstones in the North and Samantha Shannon was quite evidently from London. But the South wasn’t just eminent in her voice but also in her thoughts. With the affection and love she spoke of London it was absolutely obvious how much of a love affair she had with the city. You could see it in her books too.
“London – beautiful, immortal London”
The Bone Season is based in a dystopian London which has an intriguing backstory involving a work experience placement with a literary agent in the Seven Dials area. Shannon also told us that she includes other English cities. The home of universities (Oxford) is so claustrophobic that it becomes a prison; the heart of the industrial revolution is the engine of the
Shannon also told us that she includes other English cities. The home of universities (Oxford) is so claustrophobic that it becomes a prison; the heart of the industrial revolution is the engine of the Scion world (Manchester) and the very city that is home to the UK’s nuclear weapons today, holds the government’s military base equally as reluctantly (Edinborough).
The next book will continue to jump out of Samantha Shannon’s comfort zone and into mainland Europe. This is something I’m very excited about personally because the genre of young adult dystopia tends to focus on one country and this often leaves readers wondering if the rest of the world even exists.
But this all leads to the fact that Shannon has clearly spent a long time researching all her world building in The Bone Season and that she cares a lot about said research.
It was even more interesting when Shannon described how other events shaped her Dystopia. As an author of two novels, I always find it worthwhile to remind myself that fiction isn’t always that fictional and if I base my stories upon something else I shouldn’t be kicking myself for it. I liked that Shannon was proud that her romance between Warden and Paige was loosely based on Beauty and The Beast. It is, however, her own twist – with her thoughts behind it being how would two people who are forced to cooperate (when one person is keeping secrets) behave like around each other?
Samantha Shannon also seems like someone I wouldn’t mind to be on the same side of in real life.
For example parts of The Bone Season are based on the Salem Witch Trials.
In Shannon’s own words she said that we as the human race will never learn. Her thoughts on the subject were that we will always find something to pile our hatred upon and a group of society to scapegoat, that this is the most chilling part of human nature.
The idea that the author repeats this in a society set in the future- in light of recent events- couldn’t be more relevant and needed.
According to Shannon The Bone Season world is also quite progressive in all of its bad deeds. Though at first, this felt like a contradiction she explained to us that as all the attention of the Scion government went to fighting one group in society they forget to send hatred towards others. This paired with the fact that the people in the ruling position had no concept of race or gender means that Samantha Shannon’s Dystopia (according to her) has no sexism or homophobia. That’s an equally thought provoking idea. Is it possible that a society that is so damaging can have utopian aspects?
I guess that the only way I can judge for myself is if I read the book series. After this great time spent on a drizzly Wednesday afternoon, it is definitely in my to be read.
Have you read The Bone Season and what do you think? Does it match what Samantha Shannon said about it?
Thank you to Waterstones Deansgate for the invitation to this event.