2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, she commits treason simply by breathing.
But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city – Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago, and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly – as soldiers in their army.
Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind, and his own mysterious motives.
I'm 21 years old and live in suburban London, England. I just graduated from Oxford University with a 2:1 in English Language and Literature.
A typical day in your life would be…?
Depends on the day! If I have a clear schedule, I'll get up, have coffee, write, write, have lunch, write, go on Twitter, have dinner and go to bed. Recently, though, I've been doing a lot of promotion for the publication of The Bone Season, so I'm more likely to be going to London to see someone from my publishing house.
What inspired The Bone Season?
I was working in Seven Dials, a small district in London, and had a strange daydream about a girl having exactly the same day at work that I was, but she happened to be clairvoyant. There are a few shops in the area that sell crystal balls and tarot cards, which is what introduced me to the idea of clairvoyants in that district.
Can you tell us about the world of The Bone Season?
It's a world in which clairvoyant people – also called 'unnaturals' – have been persecuted by nearly two centuries by an oligarchy called Scion. Some clairvoyants have banded together and formed a crime syndicate in London. And in a secret, disavowed city, a race of supernatural creatures called the Rephaim are pulling the government's strings.
Is there a particular reason you chose to set the story in Oxford, England?
Oxford is a place of contradictions. The university is a forerunner in scientific research, yet it's steeped in archaism, tradition, and vestiges of elitism. It was the perfect setting for The Bone Season. Its small size meant it was also very easy to remodel for the purpose of the story – it's more of a town than a city.
The Bone Season is set in the year 2059. What made you choose to set it in the future?
A key event in the book's timeline happens in 1859. I needed the book to be set two hundred years on from that, so it had to be 2059.
How do you think The Bone Season differs from other dystopian novels?
It's spliced with fantasy. In my experience, most dystopian novels tend to veer towards science fiction and cyberpunk. The Bone Season combines a futuristic setting with the paranormal.
The original comparison to J.K. Rowling was just because of our similar book deals: seven fantasy books with Bloomsbury. I am a huge fan of Harry Potter and I really admire J.K. Rowling as a person. The comparison is quite uncomfortable, as suggesting there's a "next J.K. Rowling" implies that the original is obsolete. We don't need a next J.K. Rowling – there's nothing wrong with the first one.
Congratulations on the film right being sold to The Imaginarium Studios. How do you feel about your book being made into a movie? Does this influence your way of writing in any way?
Thank you! I'm very excited to have sold the rights to such an innovative new production company. Film is a slow process, though, so I don't expect there to be any news on it for a while. It didn't influence my writing, exactly, but Imaginarium did give me some helpful editorial notes.
The cover is based on one of the sundial faces on the pillar at Seven Dials, London, which is where some of the novel is set. The other symbols, the amaranth and the anchor, are also key to the story.
What were your favorite and least favorite parts of the publishing process for your debut novel?
My favourite part was the editing process; I really enjoyed working with my editor to make the novel the absolute best it could be. My least favourite part was probably waiting for the cover to be designed. That stage was incredibly nerve-racking. Fortunately, the designer came up with a very elegant and beautiful cover.
What books are on your reading pile right now?
I'm currently reading Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Battle Royale by Koushun Takami and Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. At the same time. Somehow.
What are your favourite novels?
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood is my favourite. I also loved The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov and Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell.
What do you like most about being a writer?
Getting to tell stories and build worlds for a living. I feel very fortunate to be in this position and I never, ever take it for granted.
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