Samantha Shannon on her sequel, The Mime Order
And how it forced her to get a life
The best thing about a six-figure, seven-book deal with publishing juggernaut Bloomsbury, being read in 20 countries and kick-starting a fantasy movie franchise helmed by Andy Serkis aka Gollum, is that it’s a good stand-in for a social life. “I’m a homebody,” chuckles 22-year-old Samantha Shannon, author of best-selling paranormal YA fiction The Bone Season (TBS) and now the equally good second book, The Mime Order (TMO). “I guess having to talk about the books gets me out of the house, so that’s a good thing.”
Set in a dystopian London of 2059, the books are centred on young, gifted clairvoyant Paige Mahoney, who belongs to one of the supernatural gangs in the city’s criminal underworld. We last saw Paige escaping her powerful captors, the Rephaim (and falling for one of them). “She’s definitely grown,” Shannon says, “Her first experience was traumatic, so she’s more wary now.” The same could be said of the author’s IRL trajectory. From a cloistered Oxford student writing TBS after her roundly rejected first novel Aurora — to interning with star literary agent David Godwin, and eventually stunning him and Bloomsbury chief Alexandra Pringle with her second attempt. Shannon has since travelled the world with TBS, meeting a quickly solidifying fan base. “I’ve really been able to get a lot of confidence in myself and my writing in this process,” she says. TMO is inarguably the better book for all this experience; Shannon writes assuredly, and succeeds in authentically rendering London as the “bizarre fantasy land” the way she set out to.
As she fields the avalanche of reviews, fan mails and general congratulations that are incoming with TMO’s release, the author is already working “pretty solidly” to deliver the next instalment in early 2016. In between, she has to find time to consult on the movie with a two-time Oscar winning screenwriter she cannot yet name, have lunch with the girls and roam London in search of spots she’ll completely reinvent. Book parties and bubbly can wait.
The Mime Order (Bloomsbury) is out now
Photograph: Thomas Kavanagh