This past Monday, I had the immense honor of meeting Samantha Shannon, author of the debut novel The Bone Season. It was somewhat of a surprise – the event was planned super last minute, so I only knew about it five days before that. Sadly, that meant that it was way too short notice to find a hardcover copy of the book. Amazon would likely get it here just one day too late. Judith, bless her heart, went around to a ton of bookstores in Amsterdam to try to find it. Turned out that there honestly wasn’t a single hardcover copy of The Bone Season for sale in the Netherlands. I’m somewhat of a hardcover book whore, and especially if I am getting a book signed, I want that to be in hardcover. But oh well. I got a paperback and I am fine with it. I digress.
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopia
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopia
It is the year 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, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit 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.
The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine—a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut. Goodreads
What transpired beforehand…Now I saw Samantha retweet someone from her Dutch publisher announcing the event and got majorly excited because, again, authors don’t visit the Netherlands often (though, if this keeps happening, I might need to stop saying that). However, the event was scheduled for 4 pm, which is sadly during work hours. So once I tweeted about that and started talking to Judith about it, Samantha actually broke into the conversation and asked what time I would be available, and that she didn’t mind staying longer. Whoa, serious, whoa. Immediately I was even more excited because I would not normally expect that kind of kindness and sweetness from an author. And attentiveness, for that matter, as she wasn’t even tagged in the conversation.
Anyway, so as I bounced up and down in my seat, I let her know that I’d rush over after work. Sadly, on Monday, Judith turned out to be sick and couldn’t make it, and neither could my other Dutch blogger friends. Soooo… I was checking the clock every five seconds, and once it hit 5 o’clock, I rushed over to the bookstore by myself.
The signing….I showed up after numerous delays and pouring rain to find that Samantha was sitting at a small table at the entrance of the shop… all alone! EEP. She is not very well known in the Netherlands, and due to the short term planning of the event, people that did know of her or her book, probably didn’t know of the event. And of course there was also the fact that the event was officially at 4 pm and I showed up at 5:30 pm. I honestly couldn’t believe she waited that long for me.
Anyway, I went up to her and introduced myself and apologized for keeping her there, and she was super sweet about everything. About 10 people had come to see her, so it was a rather quiet event. One, however, did travel two hours to see her, so she was really flattered about that.
One of the first things I stupidly brought up was the whole “the new J.K. Rowling” title she’d been getting – in relation to how she was probably promoted way more in the UK and the US. She really dislikes the title and told me it absolutely was not created by the publisher to hype the book. It was actually started by The Daily Mail, or some other news publication, because of the fact that she got a seven book deal. For the rest, there are absolutely no parallels between her and J.K. Rowling, or The Bone Season and Harry Potter. After that, all other publications picked up that title, and it’s gone rampant. We talked a bit about how one would even become the next J.K. Rowling, and ultimately just agreed it wasn’t even possible.
The sad thing about this title that they bestowed on her, against her will, is how it is influencing her book’s reviews. J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter are not exactly reference points you want to have when you’re just starting out as an author.
On author-blogger relations…These reviews, and their negativity because of the comparisons to Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling, sparked a conversation about negative reviews and author-blogger relations. Samantha Shannon honestly likes negative reviews, because they help get the book out there too. And in fact, she likes the snarky and gif-filled reviews the best, because it comforts the blow, it makes you laugh, and it’s less harsh. She particularly loves Cuddlebuggery for their snarky reviews and was so excited to get a positive review from them. She bounced up and down like a fangirl, haha. (And note that they gave her 3.5 stars – this is definitely one of the most gracious authors I’ve ever met.)
We reflected on the Nathan Bransford incident and how so many authors need to learn to back off reviewers. Samantha was extremely sad that Blythe from Finding Bliss in Books and Steph from Cuddlebuggery took blogging breaks because of it. She says we bloggers do SO much for authors, and we definitely don’t deserve the crap we get for it. She reflected on how Christina from A Reader of Fictions once got attacked for her Cover Snark feature by a cover designer and how ridiculous that was, because why would you even start an argument over something like that? She remembered how her cover got snarked and she thought that was pretty funny. Kara from Great Imaginations also gets attacked a lot, but Samantha says she’s one of the sweetest people she has ever met (they met at BEA). Basically, we share all our favorite bloggers and had a great time just flailing about how awesome they all are.
We were kind of like this.
We agreed that Nathan should not have posted Blythe’s review in his screencap, because that pretty much constitutes bullying. Samantha firmly believes that when you have a large following, you need to be aware that you have a huge responsibility. You could say whatever and your fans would attack people for you, even if you didn’t intend for that to happen. It’s understandable to get pissed over negative reviews, and she’s had this feeling too when people posted inaccurate information about her book. She’s wanted to jump in and correct them, but pulled herself away in time. We just agreed that you need to take a step back before you answer, and preferably don’t answer at all. Just ask yourself what you want to accomplish.
Another interesting thought, though, was that since book bloggers also jump the gun sometimes, perhaps it would also be better for them not to answer. The argument gets worse when you get involved. However, there’s no good way out of it, because by saying nothing you also kind of let them win by not presenting a counterargument.
Anyway, we tossed around a ton of thoughts on this subject, including how publishers should give a “Social Media Interactions 101” course to the authors they sign. But we concluded and she just wanted to make clear that she hopes Steph and Blythe will feel better soon and is really grateful for everything book bloggers do. She actually wants to read September Girls now because of all the controversy, and in that way negative reviews also work.
Some last words…she met Hank Green at Leaky Con and totally had an awkward fan moment with him. He didn’t know who she was but figured out she was an author and got a signed copy of her book. Then he followed her on Twitter and she freaked. I said it was like when Cuddlebuggery followed me.
One of THOSE moments. (Yeah, I kind of did this just to have a Doctor Who gif in here. I REGRET NOTHING.)
All around though, I have to say I was amazed at how genuine Samantha Shannon was. She was just so relatable and human, and that, to me, was such a pleasant surprise. And stories like that with Hank Green made me feel like she was just one of us, you know. Of course, there’s also the fact that we’re around the same age, so there’s a lot of common ground. Okay, I’m actually just a bit older than her, and that makes me look at myself like, “what am I doing with my life, this girl has a book published” but I’ll get over that.
Samantha, it was super super awesome to meet you! It was wonderful talking to you and I hope you had two great days in Amsterdam. If you ever come back, let me know! I’m sure that with a bit more time, I could get more Dutch bloggers to meet you, especially knowing how sweet you are. 🙂
And other bloggers out there, if you have the chance to go to an event with Samantha Shannon, definitely do it! Seriously. So sweet!
The loot…Now, because I’m an idiot, I forgot to get a picture taken of us together. Which is… major sads. So if you’re a “PICS OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN” kind of person, I’m deeply sorry. I have no proof.
WELL, I have some proof. My beautiful signed copy of The Bone Season, and I picked up an extra copy to get signed for Judith, as she was sadly ill that day.
After how sweet and heartfelt and awesome Samantha Shannon turned out to be, I absolutely cannot wait to dig into this beautiful book. Very excited! (And I’ll be sure to throw some gifs into that review, no matter the rating or the sentiment 🙂 )