Sunday, 28 August 2016

The Mime Order – Recap

Friends, I'm creeping out from the writing tower to blog. Don't tell my agent. The fourth Bone Season book is well underway, and things are about to take a very dark turn for Paige. I've also just hit the huge milestone of 150K on The Priory of the Orange Tree, which is not only about dragons, but turning out to be the size of a dragon, too.

I was initially worried that it might be difficult to work on two projects at once, but to my endless relief, it's actually proving much easier than I expected. If anything, it's just making it hard to focus on doing real-life admin, as I'm either deep in the political web of Scion or navigating a dragon-infested world. Currently I'm swinging between the manuscripts on a week-by-week basis, although I will be prioritising TBS4 towards the end of the year, as I want that to be finished and ready for my editor in good time.

Anyway, back to books that are a little closer to publication . . . 

First of all, you can now read the prelude of The Song Rising on one of several blogs, including this one. Prepare to be scandalised – betrayal runs deeper than you think. 

Second – The Song Rising might not be out until March 2017, but now early proof copies are making their way into readers' hands (!), I think it's time I gave you the tools to get straight back into the world of Scion. The first refresher I've written up is a recap of The Mime Order, so you can get up to speed ASAP. You can either go with the quick guide, which will tell you everything you strictly need to know before The Song Rising, or get your teeth into the more detailed summary below it. 

An updated character guide will follow soon. For more memory-joggers, here's a little refresher guide from last year. 

Warning: Major spoilers ahead 

Monday, 15 August 2016

The Song Rising – Collector's Edition

So, I have some very exciting news. I think you'll like it. 

As you'll know, Bloomsbury recently decided to give the Bone Season series a new look. However, I'm delighted to say that there will also be a special limited Collectors' Edition of The Song Rising in hardback, with a cover in the style of David Mann's stunning originals. 

Without further ado, I am very proud to unveil the Collectors' Edition . . .


It's so beautiful I can't stop staring at it help me

Seriously, though, look at it. Look at it. 

There are so many things I love about this edition of The Song Rising. The royal purple is very apt for a book about Paige's reign as Underqueen, and the moth – a reference to Black Moth, the alias Paige took during the scrimmage – is a symbol of human resistance against Scion and the Rephaim. The orange flower is nasturtium, which represents a certain other character and means conquest, or power, in the language of flowers used in the book. What I find most wonderful about this cover, however, is the six dials emanating from the moth, which echo the design of The Bone Season. To me, they represent the other six members of Paige's gang, and how their lives are now moving in different directions as their world expands. 

FAQ 


When will the Collector's Edition be released? 

On the very same day as the other edition of The Song Rising – 7 March, 2017. Six months to go, folks.

Will there be a Collector’s Edition for each new book in the series? 


Yes. (Which means I get two sets of covers. And two cover reveals per book. I am the luckiest author who ever lived.) 

So this is how we get our matching hardback set, right? 

Exactly. The collectors' edition is the only hardback that will match the originals, so if you want a matching set, this is the one you need to get your hands on. 

Bloomsbury currently has no plans to release the new covers for the first two books in hardback format. However, as I said in an earlier post, they are re-issuing The Bone Season and The Mime Order with the new covers in paperback in February 2017. The new Bone Season paperback will include The Pale Dreamer and a brand-new map by Emily Faccini. 

Can I cancel my existing pre-order and buy this one instead? 


Yes – just cancel with your retailer.

Will the eBook have the purple jacket or the new jacket? 


The new jacket, with the burning crown.

Where can I buy the Collector’s Edition? 


It's available to pre-order globally right now from Bloomsbury and Amazon, and will be feeding out to other retailers soon. 

Will it cost more? 

Nope! The collector's edition will be exactly the same price as the white one, and will even come with a signature from yours truly.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

It's a real book

The Pale Dreamer

Is it seriously August already? Well, at least time's flying towards The Song Rising's release date . . .

I'll start off with the biggest news of the week, which has me grinning from ear to ear. In December this year, Bloomsbury will publish The Pale Dreamer, the story of the day sixteen-year-old Paige Mahoney became Jaxon Hall's mollisher. It's been so hard to keep my lips sealed about this project, which follows Paige and Nick as they hunt a poltergeist through London. I'm thrilled I can finally talk about it. 


From the press release:

Bloomsbury is delighted to publish The Pale Dreamer, the exhilarating prequel to the extraordinary Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon. Fans of series will discover how Paige Mahoney’s gifts come to light, whilst for new readers, this is an exciting introduction to Scion London and the world of The Bone Season. Drawing on real characters from the Old Bailey archives, The Pale Dreamer shows us where Jaxon Hall and his gang, the Seven Seals, all began.

‘I'm thrilled to be able to expand the world of The Bone Season, and to show everyone a different, younger Paige, in The Pale Dreamer. I hope it gives readers something to look forward to before The Song Rising comes out in March,’ says Samantha Shannon. 
The Pale Dreamer will be published by Bloomsbury in eBook, 6 December 2016. It will also be included as additional material in the beautifully rejacketed paperback edition of The Bone Season in February 2017.

The Pale Dreamer is now available to pre-order from all good eBook retailers. I can't wait for you to read it. 

Add it on Goodreads

Listen to the playlist



The proofs are in 

After about a year of hard work on it, The Song Rising has finally been typeset, and I will freely admit that I cried when I got it in the post from Bloomsbury. It took so long to get the manuscript just right, I was beginning to think I would never see it on paper. I'm currently working my way through the proofreading stage, where I can make final, small edits. This is the part where I get really obsessed with the rhythm and structure of my sentences. 


The third instalment of the series has panned out at 347 pages – quite a lot shorter than the previous two Bone Season books. When I first saw the page count, I wrestled with a slight sense of embarrassment that the book that's taken me the longest amount of time has turned out to be the smallest. After a two-year wait, I was worried that readers might be disappointed b y its length; that they might be expecting a huge, thick tome to offset the two-year delay. Then I remembered one of the golden rules of publishing: quality, not quantity. I've always promised myself that I'll never fill a book with unnecessary padding. Every book will be as long or short as it needs to be. As well as that, The Song Rising takes place over only two months – November to January – while The Mime Order spanned three and The Bone Season followed Paige over half a year, so the length makes perfect sense in terms of the story, too. I do suspect that this will be the shortest in the series; the last three will definitely be much thicker, while the fourth will probably be around the same size as The Bone Season.




YALC

Last weekend was the weekend of the Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC), one of the biggest events in publishing in the UK. I look forward to this convention more than I do to Christmas, and it was just as much fun as it was last year. 

My panel this time round was about writing fantastical versions of London – a subject I obviously love. I was joined by V. E. Schwab (Shades of Magic), Ben Aaronovitch (Rivers of London) and our wonderful host, Katherine Webber (Wing Jones), who got to reveal the beautiful cover of her book at the event. As always, I was in a state of shock when I saw how many people were in my signing line after the panel. It wrapped right out of my sight! Thank you so much to everyone who stood and waited for me to do my too-long signature and the red Scion stamp – you have no idea how much it means to me that you all came to see me. Thank you, too, to the terrific team at Booktrust who make YALC so brilliant every year. It's always such an honour to be invited, and to be part of the UKYA community. 

Photo © Katherine Webber



On my bookshelf

 

I've read quite a lot of books recently, taking advantage of a temporary lull in my writing as I edited The Song Rising and The Pale Dreamer. Yesterday I tore through Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall, a sensitive depiction of what it's like to live with agoraphobia and OCD. It examines mental illness, self-harm, personal boundaries and therapy, with just the right amount of humour and an ultimately hopeful conclusion. 

My favourite reads of the last few weeks have been False Hearts by Laura Lam, Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, and The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. False Hearts is a dark, smart and diverse sci-fi thriller about one twin having to take the other's identity in a futuristic San Francisco; Gemina is the triumphant sequel to Illuminae, which was my favourite YA book of 2015, and The Star-Touched Queen is an extraordinary debut that blends Indian folklore with the much-loved tale of Hades and Persephone. I'd strongly recommend making room for all of them on your to-read pile. 

I've also caved and bought a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Originally I was going to avoid it, as I wanted to stay safe in the knowledge that all was well for the golden trio, but I've finally decided that I'm too much of a Potterhead to not read the eighth instalment. 

Monday, 18 July 2016

Crash Course VI

Welcome back to Crash Course! 

It's been a while since my last entry in this series. If you haven't discovered it before, Crash Course is a series of blog posts that explain aspects of The Bone Season and its world in more detail, so you can jog your memory between books and discover more about Scion and its inhabitants. I was prompted to do this entry by an ask I got on Tumblr a few days ago, requesting that I explain how the clairvoyant syndicate works in more detail. I realised I never did an entry on the syndicate, which is one of the more complicated elements of the Bone Season world, so it's high time I told you more about the tangled web of mime-lords, mime-queens, mollishers and mobsters in the underworld of the Scion Citadel of London. 



The London Syndicate

Introduction

For clairvoyants in Scion, there are three ways to survive. You can try to hide your gift and lead a double life; you can enlist in the Night Vigilance Division and work for Scion, which will give you thirty years of guaranteed work before you're executed for unnaturalness . . . or you can try to join the clairvoyant syndicate.

The syndicate of the Scion Citadel of London, thought to be the largest in existence, was founded in 1964 on the idea of mime-crime – using clairvoyance to earn money illegally. Its first Underlord, Thomas Ebon Merritt, wanted voyants to be able to survive and embrace who they were, rather than have to get a conventional job, where their clairvoyance might be discovered by sharp-eyed colleagues or Vigiles, or sell out to the enemy. The syndicate allowed you to disappear into the underworld and find protection with like-minded people. Here's an excerpt from Merritt's famous Declaration to the Unnatural Assembly (1964): 


I have raised you to Roles of great Importance, so you shall be called the Lords and Queens of these wretched Folk; yet see that I have humbled you anew with a prefix, mime. For though you are a Monarch, remember that you are only a Mimic. The Spirits of the Dead have granted us their Knowledge so that we may whore it on the Streets for Coin, sacrificing their Secrets for the sake of our continued Existence. You, the Unnatural, can only ever imitate their Greatness. 

Merritt, who was sometimes known as ‘Good Tom’, intended the mime-lords and mime-queens to serve their people, and to ensure that all voyants were treated as equals. It was a noble cause – but when Merritt died, his beloved organisation swiftly became a breeding ground for corruption and cruelty, culminating in the ‘grey market’ scandal of 2059.

Since its early days, the syndicate's official administrative body has been the Spiritus Club, a voyant publishing house based in Grub Street. The Spiritus Club records the history and laws of the syndicate and organises official events. Even the Underlord or Underqueen is supposed to be held accountable by the Club. The Club historically communicated with the syndicate using the Victorian language of flowers, which is still used in some syndicate circles to send coded messages – most famously before a scrimmage (see Hierarchy). 

Getting your chance to join the syndicate is reasonably easy. If you're voyant and live on the territory of a mime-lord or mime-queen, it won't be long until you get a visit from one of their representatives, asking if you plan to join. If you don't, some mime-lords will still expect you to pay the syndicate rent (see Money). If you do join, you'll be left to your own devices for a while. A member of the section's dominant gang – the gang led by the local mime-lord or mime-queen – will assess you quietly and decide if you're worthy of a place in the organisation. If you are, you'll be assigned to a gang in the section. If you're not, you're left out to dry. People who are rejected from the syndicate and have no other means of income will usually join the NVD, or if they're too afraid or proud to do that, resort to begging. 

There is no official limit on the number of gangs that can operate in a section, but if you want to form a new gang, you must ask permission from both the Underlord and the mime-lord or mime-queen whose territory you mean to live and work in. Not doing this will result in punishment. Under Haymarket Hector, who often didn't reply to requests, there were numerous killings of ‘illegitimate’ gang leaders, who had asked for permission to form a new gang and never received an answer. Hector did not take kindly to discovering that they had proceeded anyway.

Becoming a member of the syndicate gives you unrestricted access to the black market. Known as the Garden, the black market is located in a secret chamber beneath the central market hall in Covent Garden, and is accessed through a mirror in a clothes shop. A lantern outside glows a slightly different shade of blue to other Scion street-lamps. The black market has many different sections, some of which focus on different kinds of clairvoyance (e.g. stalls that stock products specifically for mediums), and sells a wide range of items, including:

  • Weapons – mostly old-fashioned
  • Blacklisted music, literature, and film
  • Numa – for soothsayers and augurs
  • Antiques and curios 
  • Items and information from the free world (non-Scion countries)
  • Musical instruments 
  • Flowers – to send messages in the language of flowers 

With the friendship and respect of other voyants, and a local den to hide in, you're much less likely to be arrested. Now to climb the ladder – and earn some coin. 



Hierarchy and power

The official categorisation system of the syndicate is the the Seven Orders of Clairvoyance (see On the Merits of Unnaturalness). If you're from a higher order of clairvoyance, you'll be far more in-demand than a soothsayer or augur and will have a much easier time joining the syndicate.

Higher-order voyants may find themselves being asked by rival mime-lords or mime-queens if they'd like to do some work for them on the quiet, a practice known as moonlighting. While moonlighting allows voyants to earn extra money, it doesn't usually go down well with their legitimate employer if they discover it. Some close their eyes to their voyants moonlighting, while others forbid it on pain of banishment.

The most common form of mime-crime is doing readings for clients about their future and charging for it. This is usually carried out by soothsayers and augurs. Writing and art mediums can forge lost works and sell them. Whisperers and polyglots, who connect to the æther through playing music or singing, often work as high-class buskers. Busking is common, but not particularly respectable and not officially allowed by some mime-lords and mime-queens, as it's considered to be something that amaurotics can do as well as clairvoyants. Begging is illegal but tolerated.

The syndicate also deals in more conventional crime, such as pickpocketing and drug dealing. Nightwalking – engaging in sex acts in exchange for information from the æther – is its equivalent of prostitution. Nightwalkers may work individually, but more commonly work in groups in a night parlour. Nightwalking is a legitimate syndicate profession, and, like other voyant businesses, is taxed. 


Note: Vile augurs were forbidden from the syndicate several years after the publication of On the Merits of Unnaturalness. This rule was overturned by Paige Mahoney in November 2059. 

Voyant activity in one section is kept in check by the local mime-lord or mime-queen. Any attempts to withhold tax money, disobey local rules, or cause trouble will be met with punishment. Most mime-lords and mime-queens punish transgression brutally in order to maintain control through fear, but a small number are reasonable and forgiving. 

The hierarchy of syndicate professions looks something like this: 


Underlord or Underqueen
Leader of the syndicate 
|
Mollisher supreme
Mollisher of the Underlord or Underqueen
|
The Unnatural Assembly
Mime-lords and mime-queens
|
Mollishers
Trusted seconds-in-command of 
mime-lords and mime-queens
|
Dominant gangs
Gangs led by mime-lords or mime-queens
|
Gang leaders
|
Gang members
Also known as mobsters 
|
Kidsmen
Train gutterlings in the arts of the syndicate
|
Hirelings
Carry out errands for dominant gangs
|
Couriers
Carry messages between gangs
|
Voyant businesses and traders
Pay taxes and draw business to a section;
some are based in the black market
|
Footpads and pickpockets
Specialise in conventional crime
|
Buskers
Not considered part of the syndicate by some,
but tolerated if they pay extra tax
|
Gutterlings and beggars
Not officially part of the syndicate,
but often exploited or forced to pay tax


The Unnatural Assembly wields much of the power in the voyant hierarchy. Mime-lords and mime-queens were originally meant to actively serve their people, providing voyants in their section with opportunities and protection from Scion (e.g. giving them dens to hide in, sending their mobsters to help fight off Vigiles) in exchange for a cut of their earnings – but by the time Paige joins the syndicate, many have become lazy, allowing their voyants to do the work while they soak up more and more money. Paige's intention as Underqueen is to give them more active roles, which will not allow them to shirk their responsibilities.  

Although the clairvoyant syndicate is largely self-sufficient, it also occasionally works with sympathetic amaurotics. Glym jacks (hired bodyguards), buck cabbies (cab drivers who will give voyant clients a significant discount) and screevers (experts in forging documents) are the most common sorts of amaurotic to engage in syndicate work. 

If a mime-lord or mime-queen is arrested or dies, control of the section is automatically transferred to their mollisher, who is the heir to their position and fortune. If the mollisher is also unable to rule for any reason, a power vacuum forms and an internal struggle begins. Voyants will fight to prove that they are the strongest candidate for the role. Members of a dominant gang will usually be involved in these fights, but are not guaranteed to win. Finally, when one person has come out on top – whether by skill or intimidation – and is no longer facing any serious challenges, they will announce themselves to the Unnatural Assembly, and the Underlord or Underqueen will declare them as the new leader of the section. 

When an Underlord or Underqueen dies or is unable to rule, their mollisher supreme takes over. If they can't, the process becomes more complex. A scrimmage – a public battle for control of the syndicate – is announced by the Spiritus Club. Candidates send the Club a message in the language of flowers to declare their intention to participate. Only mime-lords, mime-queens and mollishers are officially allowed to enter, but independent candidates may also be approved, based on how interesting the Club finds their floral messages. 

Here are the official rules of the scrimmage, from The Mime Order: 

The Scrimmage is based on the medieval art of mêlée. Mime-Lords, Mime-Queens and their Mollishers fight in close Combat in a 'Rose Ring', an enduring symbol of the Plague of Unnaturalness. Each of the Combatants fights for his- or herself, but a Mollisher may work with his or her Mime-Lord or Mime-Queen at any time during the battle. The last Candidate standing is declared Victor and is presented with the ceremonial Crown. From that moment, the Victor rules the syndicate, and bears the title of Underlord or Underqueen, depending upon their Preference.  
When there are only two Combatants left in the Rose Ring, and they are not a Mime-Lord or Mime-Queen and Mollisher duo, they must do battle to the Death in order for a final Victor to be declared. Only by using a specific invocation – ‘in the name of the æther, I, [name or alias], yield’ – can a Combatant end the last fight without bloodshed. Once this word is spoken, the other Party is automatically declared Victor. This rule was introduced by the Golden Baroness, first Underqueen of the Scion Citadel of London (ruled 1976-1980).  



Money 

The raison d'être of the clairvoyant syndicate is money. Money is earned through busking, begging, extortion, the sale of goods and knowledge, and the sale and auction of spirits – and it all flows upward by means of taxes. All syndicate voyants must pay syndicate rent and syndicate tax.

Syndicate rent is charged by mime-lords and mime-queens, who are themselves immune to it. Locations with more clairvoyant activity, and more opportunity for business, tend to charge higher syndicate rent.

Syndicate tax is paid by everyone but the Underlord or Underqueen. Every time a voyant earns money through their syndicate activities, they must give a certain percentage of it to their local mime-lord or mime-queen. Businesses pay more than individuals. That mime-lord or mime-queen then pays a certain percentage of that money, and the collected syndicate rent, to the Underlord or Underqueen, who is supposed to use it to make life better in the syndicate. Corruption is so rife in the syndicate, however, that its leaders often keep large sums for their own use. Not paying rent or tax can result in a number of punishments, from a beating to banishment to death. Flower and Dean Street in East London, where many voyants had their throats slit for not coughing up, was notorious during Haymarket Hector's reign.

Only one establishment in London is immune to syndicate tax. The Juditheon – an auction house in Cheapside – was founded by Didion Waite, and allows spirits to be sold by auction for more money than they would usually get. The Underlord allowed Waite to set up this establishment without paying any tax to his local mime-queen, Ognena Maria. The money would instead go straight into the Underlord's personal coffers.



I hope that was helpful. Let me know if I've missed anything, or if you're curious about any other aspect of syndicate culture. 

More news about The Song Rising on its way soon . . .

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

On migraine

The aching orb of eye, tuned to the thrum,  
foretells the sudden swelling of the vein.
The nerves sing to the tune. A brittle drum
booms with illumined blood before the pain.

An earthquake shakes the rigid skull again.
The bottle-cap, screwed tight, will overflow.
A sliver of the sun inside the brain 
is streaming through the spectrum, all too slow.

The vessels squeeze out loose ends of the glow
and iridescence leaves the iris blind.
A bell tolls in the bone. Chemical rain
has etherized the tissue of the mind.



Just a little poem on migraine I've been working on, line by line, for a few months. I'm not a poet by nature, but I've always wanted to try and sum up to a non-migraineur how it feels to experience one. 

Friday, 3 June 2016

New covers

Good evening!

I'll start with a piece of startling news: I haven't had coffee or tea for over a week, and I'm fine. Caffeine withdrawal, apparently, does not have the hold on me that it did while I was at uni.

Anyway, moving swiftly on to the real news of the week: If you follow me on social media, you'll know by now that Bloomsbury has unveiled a fresh new look for the whole of the Bone Season series. They've already been revealed elsewhere, but I thought I'd also post them here at A Book from the Beginning in higher resolution, so you can see them in all their glory. Without further ado, here's what the Bone Season books will look like from here on out . . .  All credit, as always, goes to the wonderful David Mann at Bloomsbury. 

US







Aus | UK | India






Aren't they gorgeous? I'm delighted with them – they're clean, symbolic, and powerful in their simplicity. The aesthetic is actually quite similar to the one Scion uses, with white backgrounds and hints of red and black. The first two covers, as you can see, are roughly based on the original designs: the red flower for The Bone Season, and the moth and the flower for The Mime Order. They also evoke the colours of their previous incarnations. I especially love the exploding glass effect of The Bone Season.

The spines are blue for The Bone Season, red for The Mime Order, and orange for The Song Rising

A Book from the Beginning has always been meant to explore the different phases of the publishing process, and different looks are a reality of publishing: sometimes, the design changes, sometimes midway through a series. Rest assured that publishers always do it with the best interests of the book and the author in mind. I will miss the originals, which have a special place in my heart – after all, they were my very first book covers! – but I like these new ones just as much. I've always had one hard rule when it comes to the covers for my books (in English, at least), and that's ‘no models’ – I prefer the reader to be able to imagine for themselves what the characters look like – and Bloomsbury has always respected this. The hardback spine of The Song Rising has also been designed so it goes well with those of the originals. 

We all like a tidy bookshelf.

The Song Rising's cover, of course, has been a long time coming for all of us. I can't tell you how it feels to finally have a cover for it – it's like seeing the finish line in a year-long marathon. When Bloomsbury showed me the cover for the first time, I couldn't quite believe how right they'd got it, despite how different it looked from the previous two designs. The book follows Paige's reign as Underqueen, so the crown is rightfully the centrepiece, and I love that it resembles the symbol for the queen in a chess game (♕♛). The fire burns around the crown like an aura, powerful and glowing, yet simultaneously threatens to consume it; only a thin circle keeps it at bay, and even then, the flames creep in. This could easily represent Paige's state of mind in the book, as she is forced to prove, while she strives to unite clairvoyants and deal Scion a serious blow, that she is worthy of her crown. 

Thank you so much for all the positive feedback so far. Mid-series cover changes can be nerve-racking for authors, as they're beyond our control, and I know they can be just as nerve-racking for existing readers of a series. I was in a cold sweat for days before the reveal, but I'm so glad, and relieved, that so many people are on board with the new look. It's really grown on me for the few weeks I've known about it. While understated covers are hard to capture fully on a screen, in my experience they tend to look incredibly effective on a finished book, once they've had all the little finishes added. I'm more excited than ever to see a finished hardback of The Song Rising and actually hold the book I've been working on for so long. 


The final wait begins . . .

With nine months to go until the book is released, I'm going to start dropping more hints about The Song Rising. In my last blog post, I gave you the first quote, and some time this month, I'll be revealing the name of Part 1. I'm also planning to drop a new song onto the Song Rising soundtrack on my brand-new Spotify every so often in the lead-up to publication. While they're not exactly teasers for the book, you should get a good idea of its atmosphere and the sort of thing I was listening to as I wrote and edited it. My author playlists for The Bone Season and The Mime Order, as well as all the music mentioned in the book (e.g. the songs on Warden's gramophone and Jaxon's record player), are also on my Spotify. 

I'm going to hurry back to Book 4 now – I just finished Chapter 1 – but I hope you love the covers as much as I do. 

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

The song is on the rise

The edits are done

The song is on the rise. 

After at least a year of working on the manuscript, I am relieved and overjoyed to tell you that I have finally, finally finished The Song Rising. All that's left to do now is copy-editing, but I already know it will be a breeze in comparison to the structural and line edits that have occupied my every waking moment for the last few weeks. 

I've slowly fallen in love with this book. I've spent months agonising, writing, rewriting, being thrilled with new scenes, veering between laughter and tears, waking up in cold sweats, doubting my ability, emailing my editor, being certain of my ability, loving my new villain, and living in fear of Third Book Syndrome, if such a thing exists – but out of this emotional and creative welter, and at least five drafts, comes a book that I am really, truly proud of, and can't wait for you to read in March 2017. (Fingers crossed some of you wil be get your hands on ARCs before that.) The extra time I spent on it has been absolutely worth it, as it was with The Mime Order, and I'd like to thank you all again, a thousand times, for your patience in waiting for me to get Paige's third adventure exactly right. I've learned a lot of lessons about my creative process during this time, and I hope to use those lessons to make the first draft of Book 4 much stronger and tighter before it goes to my editor.

In case you missed it on social media, here's your first official quote from The Song Rising

"You do not believe me."  
A long breath escaped me. "I don't know what I believe any more."

. . . Make of it what you will.

I've said before that each book in the Bone Season series, while broadly coming under the umbrella of dystopia and urban fantasy, will have a different 'genre'. The Bone Season was a jailbreak; The Mime Order, at its heart, was a murder mystery. Originally, I had planned The Song Rising to be a more typical let's-fight-the-government dystopian, but on reflection, I think . . . I think it might be a heist novel. Maybe.

So, at long last, knowing that I've put my all into The Song Rising, I'm moving on to new projects – after I take a week off to catch up on my reading and do things like properly unpack my belongings now I've moved out of my parents' house. On the subject of new projects, I've just finished editing my short story for a brand-new anthology that's coming soon to a bookshop near you. 

The anthology 


If you haven't read about it yet, Because You Love to Hate Me is a villain-themed YA anthology, edited by Grammy-nominated singer Ameriie, that will bring together thirteen authors and thirteen Booktubers to create stories. In short, each Booktuber is assigned to an author and gives them a prompt, and with that prompt, the author creates a story centred around a particular villain (or villains). The Booktubers will also be contributing essays to the anthology, detailing their thoughts on good and evil. I absolutely love this subject matter, especially delving into the murky grey waters that lie between those two extremes. I was honoured to be asked by Ameriie to join in with this project, and I've loved working on my contribution over the last couple of months. Although I can't tell you a great deal about it yet, I have no doubt that Bloomsbury, who will be publishing in July 2017, will be dropping a tonne of hints as the year goes on.   

Some of the other authors involved in the anthology are Renée Ahdieh, Victoria Schwab, and Susan Dennard. You can all about it here.

The rest of the year

The rest of 2016 is going to be interesting, because for the first time in my career as an author, I'm going to be splitting my time equally between two major projects. One of those is, of course, the fourth Bone Season book. All I'm telling you at the moment is (a) that it's set in France, (b) it's the final book in the first "arc" of the septology, and (c) that the ending will change everything.  

The second task is to finish The Priory of the Orange Tree, my high fantasy novel. I don't yet have a release date for you, and I doubt Bloomsbury will choose one until the draft is finished, but I'll drop hints when I can. I'm aiming to have both manuscripts handed in by the time The Song Rising is published, if not earlier. 

But first . . . I need to catch up on my sleep, give my body a break from my near-permanent writing posture, and read as many books as I can stuff into a week. Thank you to all of you, as always, for your constant support and enthusiasm. It's kept me going for the past year, and it will fuel me for the next. 

*disappears under duvet*