The author of the Bone Season books loves a French pastry
What is your daily writing routine like?
I get up between 7.00 and 8.00, go for a walk, do my admin and set goals in the morning, then write from about noon onwards. Depending on where I am with my deadlines, I sometimes work very late.
Do you find it helpful to listen to music while writing?
I do listen to music while I work, but it can’t have lyrics if I’m drafting. Lyrics give the song a story, which interferes with the story in my head. For that reason, I like film scores a lot. They set the right tone.
How do you deal with the urge to procrastinate?
Coming off Twitter was the best decision I’ve ever made in terms of fighting the need to procrastinate. It makes me shudder to think of how much time I lost on there over 10 years.
Which of your books was the most difficult to write?
It’s a toss-up between The Song Rising and A Day Of Fallen Night. The Song Rising was tricky from the beginning, as I didn’t quite hit the mark with the first draft – I was rushing to get it to my readers – and I had to essentially rewrite it from scratch, which I found very demoralising. A Day Of Fallen
Night was a pleasure to draft, but the global paper shortage meant that my editorial schedule had to be compressed, and for an 800-page book, that was intense.
Is there anything about one of your books which you wish you could travel back in time and “fix”?
Funnily enough, I have just finished a complete line edit of my debut, which was such a rewarding experience. I wrote The Bone Season when I was 19, and I’ve wanted to go back and make changes for years, as I knew it could be so much stronger. Fortunately, my publisher has let me make these edits for a
new edition to celebrate its tenth anniversary. It’s a dream come true.
Can you recommend one book that you love, but that’s not very well known?
The Escapement by Lavie Tidhar. Inspired by a Hebrew tale called “The Flower Of The Golden Heart” by Shlomo Zalman Ariel, it’s a surreal Western about the Stranger, a man on a quest to the Mountains of Darkness. To reach them, he must navigate a dangerous and carnivalesque land called the Escapement, populated by aerialists, sharpshooters, persecuted clowns and other vibrant characters. It’s both an astonishing feat of imagination and a tender examination of grief.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received from a reader?
I’ve had many lovely gifts over the years: character art, handmade jewellery, a toy
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve either received or read?
Neil Gaiman once told me to remember to enjoy myself, which I appreciated, especially when I was a nervous debut author. I think you can sometimes be so focused on deadlines and career goals that you forget to look up and savour the view.
A Day Of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon is published by Bloomsbury on 28 February.
It makes me shudder to think of how much time I lost on Twitter over 10 years