Monday, 8 September 2014


Voyants and amaurotics, the time has come! I've finally received my box of full ARCs of The Mime Order from Bloomsbury. Enter to win one of them below. 

Note: This prize is a full advanced reading copy of The Mime Order in the English language. If you win this prize, you agree to have it personalised with a name. This competition is international. One winner will be selected at random. All prizes are sent by standard post. Although I will do my best to ensure prizes reach participants, I can't take any responsibility if they are misplaced or delayed by the postal service.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

A note on ARCs

So I just got word from my publisher that ARCs of The Mime Order should be available in early September, which is exciting. But what is an ARC, and how do you get one? 

An ARC (Advance Reading Copy), also known as a proof or a galley, is an early, uncorrected version of a book that goes out before publication to spread the word about it. This version of the book has generally been seen by a copy editor, but not by a proofreader, so there may still be continuity or typographical errors, which you are politely asked to overlook.

It is illegal to buy or sell an ARC before the book’s official publication date you won’t see them in bookshops, and you shouldn’t see them online and publishers request that reviewers don’t quote directly from it, as the book may still change before the finished version goes to press. I get three weeks to make any last tweaks to the book after the proof pages are made up. 

You may receive a physical or digital ARC.

ARCs are sent out at the discretion of the publishing house. I’m not responsible for deciding who gets them the author receives a very small number of copies. They usually go out to press, booksellers, book bloggers, fan sites, and so on. Sometimes there will be a requirement set by the publisher, e.g. a certain number of page views on a blog, which will be looked at before a decision is made.

ARCs won’t always be available in foreign territories, as the publishing date for translations tends to be later and not all publishing houses make proofs. Bloomsbury publishes me in the UK, USA, Australia and India, so you’re most likely to get one in one of those territories.

You should be able to request an ARC on NetGalley or Edelweiss (I’ll post links as soon as they’re up). Depending on the number of ARCs I get, I’ll also be hosting a giveaway on this blog. Samplers are currently available to request here, but due to territory rights, you’ll probably be declined if you’re outside the USA.

I hope that’s helpful!


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Crash Course II

Thanks for your great response to the first Crash Course entry!

This week's entry, requested by Julie, focuses on the visual world of The Bone Season – namely the spirit sight, auras and the sixth sense. There's a splash of history and On the Merits of Unnaturalness, too. Remember, if there's anything you'd like me to cover in future blog posts, give me a shout in the comments section. I stress that I can't give away anything that hasn't already been revealed in the books; this is just to clarify anything that we've already encountered in The Bone Season that you'd like me to expand on.


"Any Person who possesses an Aura has the Right to be called Clairvoyant, even if they are entirely Unsighted. Aura is our direct Link to the æther . . . [it] attracts and compels most Spirits, endearing them to us, and allows us to sense their Presence"

— Excerpt from On the Merits of Unnaturalness

Art (c) The Bone Season – die deutsche Seite
In the world of The Bone Season, aura is what identifies you as clairvoyant, understood to be a biological phenomenon. Aura is a clairvoyant individual's personal link to the æther, the means by which they tune in to the spirit world. 

Aura does not manifest in any one way. An aura can be bright or dim, fast-moving or slow, small or large. Danica has a bright aura that looks like an electrical storm around her; Warden's is much calmer, dark and soft, like smoke; Nashira's, on the other hand, is badly corrupted by the multiple gifts she has. A person's dreamscape tends to have the same dominant colour as their aura.

In 2031, Jaxon Hall, author of On the Merits of Unnaturalness, observed in his pamphlet that there were roughly seven colours of aura and that people within one of these groups generally exhibited similar abilities. He proposed that these seven groups should be grouped as follows:


Summary of the Seven Orders of Clairvoyance

I. Soothsayers Purple Require ritual objects called numa to connect with the æther
II. Augurs Blue – Use organic matter, or elements, to connect with the æther
III. Mediums Green – Connect with the æther through spiritual possession
IV. Sensors Yellow – Privy to the æther on a sensory and linguistic level
V.  Guardians  Orange Have a higher degree of control over spirits
VI.  Furies Orange-red Subject to internal change when connecting with the aether
VII. Jumpers Red Able to affect the aether outside their own physical limits   

On the Merits of Unnaturalness was a controversial and groundbreaking document, the first proper attempt to categorise clairvoyance. The controversy stemmed from the fact that it it suggested that the highest three orders guardians, furies and jumpers were superior to the other four. This caused a spate of gang wars and resulted in the permanent imprisonment of one sub-type of augurs, the supposedly violent "vile augurs", in the putrid slum of Jacob's Island. By the time Paige enters the syndicate, the Seven Orders system is widely accepted throughout the voyant world in London and elsewhere. 

Spirit sight

"For the Sighted, Aura is perceived as a Spectrum . . . The Unsighted report that instead of perceiving Colour, they receive a unique Indicator from each Aura, allowing them to make an Estimation of what Type of Clairvoyance is being displayed"

— Excerpt from On the Merits of Unnaturalness

All voyants can sense the æther to some degree. Their sixth sense allows them to pick up on nearby spirits and to exert some control over them by making spools, something that all voyants can do with a little practice. However, not all voyants can perceive the spirit world visually. 

Around 85% of voyants in London are described as being sighted, or having the spirit sight or third eye. Sighted voyants display a keyhole-shaped defect in one or both eyes, which is similar to, and named after, the real-life coloboma (a gap in the iris). People with only one coloboma, like Nick, are described as half-sighted. This means that they can switch their spirit sight on and off whenever they please. People with two colobomata, like Jaxon, are full-sighted and forced to see spirits constantly. The sighted report spirits manifesting in a number of ways: threads of glowing colour, floating sparkles, pulsing zigzags, or flurries of bright spots.1 Colobomata are a recognised "symptom of unnaturalness" in Scion citadels; consequently, voyants working in ordinary jobs wear dark contact lenses to conceal them from the authorities.

The other 15% of London voyants have no colobomata at all, and are known as the unsighted or spirit-blind. This is different from the kind of "blindness" exhibited by amaurotics, who have absolutely no sense of the spirit world at all.2 Spirit-blindness tends to be exhibited by the higher orders, particularly jumpers and furies. Paige has never been able to see spirits visually.   

It had always been my dream to be at least half-sighted, but 
I remained spirit-blind. I couldn't see the æther's 
little lights; I could only ever sense them. 

Unsighted voyants sometimes report very small disturbances when they see an aura or spirit a slight ripple, or a dark spot in their field of vision. When voyants are unsighted, they generally develop a greater sensitivity to the æther and can learn to identify auras and spirits from the way they feel. 

As a jumper, Paige's sixth sense is extremely sensitive. Having honed her skills with Jaxon Hall, she is able to categorise auras even better than some of her sighted companions in the Seven Seals can, as she can detect subtle nuances that they can't. While Eliza could see a blue aura and know that the voyant is an augur, Paige might be able to identify the particular type of aura, e.g. tasseographer or haematomancer.  

This was inspired by the kinds of visual phenomena experienced by people who suffer from migraine with aura.

The word amaurotic comes from the Greek amauros, "dim", referring to a kind of blindness that occurs without damage to the eye.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Jaxon's record player

Hi guys,

You may have seen on Twitter and Facebook that the publication date for The Mime Order has been changed to 27th January 2015. I really didn’t want to rush this book out – you deserve my absolute best work, not something finished off hastily to meet a deadline – and it was getting close to the time when I’d have to finish for good if it was going to be published in October, so Bloomsbury have given me a little bit more time to get it into shape. I’m really sorry for the extra months of waiting, but I’ll be much happier knowing that it's the best it can be. To help with the wait, Bloomsbury have put up the first four chapters of the uncorrected proof, which you can read here for one week only. 

As today would have been the 100-day milestone to publication, here's the soundtrack to The Mime Order.  Hope you enjoy it!


In the book

Guilty Billie Holiday
The Java Jive – The Ink Spots
Boulevard du Crime Édith Piaf
The Boy I Love is Up in the Gallery – George Ware
Ciuleandra Maria Tănase
Élégie (Opus 126, no. 7) Cécile Chaminade
A Bird in a Gilded Cage Harry Anthony
(more to come


160bpm Hans Zimmer
All About Us t.A.T.u.
Already Over Red
Aura Thomas Bergersen
Bleed (I Must Be Dreaming) Evanescence
Cassandra Two Steps from Hell
The Citrine Cross – Hans Zimmer
Dancing Elisa
Day of Atonement – City of the Fallen
Fake Empire – The National
Freedom Fighters – Two Steps from Hell
The Gravel Road James Newton Howard
Hail of Arrows Raised by Swans
Henry Eats the Swan Trevor Morris
How It Was Done David Arnold and Michael Price
Imperatix Mundi Jo Blankenburg
January Hymn The Decemberists
Lifelines – A-ha
Lockdown Steve Jablonsky
Monster Imagine Dragons
My Tears are Becoming a Sea M83
No More Losing the War (Paige's Theme) – Half Moon Run
O  Coldplay
The Only One Evanescence
Rag Doll – Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
Spiritual Awakening Future World Music
Starlight (Could You Be Mine) Don Diablo & Matt Nash 
Unnatural Selection Muse
You Are No Son of Mine Ramin Djawadi

Friday, 13 June 2014

Crash Course I

I just sent off what I hope is a near-final version of The Mime Order to my editor (hooray!), so I thought I'd finally kick off this Crash Course series I've been planning to do for months. The aim of this is to give you guys a summary of some of the more complex topics in The Bone Season so you can get straight back into The Mime Order when it comes out in October. The three main concepts I'll be discussing in this post are the ethereal mechanics of the dreamscape, dreamwalking and the silver cord. 


The interior of the mind, where memories are stored. Split into five zones or "rings" of sanity: sunlight, twilight, midnight, lower midnight and hadal. Clairvoyants can consciously access their own dreamscapes, while amaurotics may catch glimpses when they sleep. 

The dreamscape is the landscape of the mind. In the world of The Bone Season, every living, animate creature has a dreamscape. You know when someone tells you to "go to your happy place"? In Paige's world, your happy place is your dreamscape. I first got this idea when I was writing in my mid-teens – a kind of stage on which recurring dreams play out – but I developed it when I was studying medieval poetry at uni and discovered the term locus amoenus, meaning "pleasant place" in Latin. Here's how Jaxon explains it to Paige: 

Everyone has a dreamscape, you see. An illusion of safety, a kind of locus amoenus. You understand. Voyants have coloured dreamscapes. The rest have black-and-white ones. They see their dreamscapes when they dream. Amaurotics, 
consequently, dream in monochrome. 

The locus amoenus is a peaceful and idyllic place, usually a garden, lawn or woodland, where safety or comfort can be found. In The Bone Season, dreamscapes can take virtually any form, from fields and lakes to rooms, libraries and alleys  but only clairvoyants have colour in their dreamscapes. 

Your spirit lives, ideally, in the very centre of your dreamscape. Clairvoyants, including Rephaim, can consciously access their own dreamscapes when they want to feel safe, and see it as if it's a real place. However, the vast majority of them cannot walk away from the central zone without causing massive damage to their sanity. Here's where Paige's gift comes in. In Chapter 20, Eliza asks Paige to draw her a picture of the dreamscape from a bird's eye view. She would have produced something like this:

The dreamscape is divided into five rings of consciousness. In order to stay sane, most people need to keep their spirit fixed in their sunlit zone (Zone 1). The silver cord – the link between body and spirit, which keeps a person anchored within their physical form – prevents them from moving away from it, forming a kind of wall around that zone. When someone is particularly stressed, the silver cord becomes more flexible, and the spirit is able to drift into the twilight zone (Zone 2). An amaurotic would associate this experience with having a nightmare. So sunlit zone = healthy mind. If a spirit were to drift beyond that zone on a permanent basis, the individual would begin to lose their sanity. Eliza describes this in more detail in Chapter 20 of The Bone Season. Once you reach the hadal zone (Zone 5), you're too far gone to function. This is what happens to the Underguard in Chapter 1 of The Bone Season. Paige uses her gift to shove his spirit into his hadal zone, effectively destroying his sanity. 

Your projection of yourself in the dreamscape is known as a dream-form, the shape taken by a spirit when it's within the confines of a dreamscape. In the
æther, a spirit has no form; it's simply a "faceless glimmer", as Paige calls it. You can't see your own dream-form, but you can imagine it looking a certain way if the situation calls for it.

I pictured myself with a massive dream-form, a behemoth, 
big enough to break down every barrier. 

Fun fact: All the rings of consciousness are named after common terms for the light zones in the ocean. The hadal zone, for example, refers to the deepest levels of the ocean, where there is little marine diversity, extreme pressure and total darkness. 



Silver cord: A permanent link between the body and the spirit. It allows a person to dwell for many years in one physical form. Unique to each individual. Particularly important to dreamwalkers, who use the cord to leave their bodies temporarily. The silver cord wears down over the years, and once broken cannot be repaired. 

Art © Anonymous
Dreamwalking is The Bone Season's version of the paranormal concept of OBE, or an out-of-body experience (also called astral or etheric projection, spirit-walking). In the book, the word is a contraction of dreamscape and walking. The gift is extremely rare in the universe of the book; Paige is the only known dreamwalker in London. 

Key to the dreamwalker's ability is her flexible silver cord. Every dreamscape has one: a rigid barrier around the sunlit and twilight zones. Its function is to prevent a person's spirit from slipping too far into the darker zones, which would cause madness, or into the æther, which would cause physical death. Over a number of years, the silver cord becomes thinner and thinner until finally it snaps, and the spirit drifts naturally out of the body. If a person is fatally wounded, the cord breaks instantly. If they're suffering from anxiety, grief, pain, or any other emotion or mental condition that affects their wellbeing, the cord loosens a little, allowing the spirit to drift into the twilight zone, where amaurotic "nightmares" occur. A dreamwalker's silver cord is so flexible that it allows her to walk through every zone unharmed, without causing lasting damage to her sanity.

Say the majority of us have an inch between our body and our spirit. You have a mile. You can walk to the outer ring of your dreamscape, which means you can sense the æther for much farther than we can. You can also sense dreamscapes. We only sense spirits and aura, and not from very far away.
First of all, Paige "dislocates" her spirit by stepping towards the outer zones of her dreamscape. As she does this, pressure radiates through the æther. The farther she walks, the greater the pressure. This is what causes people to have nosebleeds if they get too close to her. Once she's through the hadal zone, Paige can "jump" out of her body and into the æther. After that, she's able to possess people by entering their dreamscapes provided she can get through the dreamscape's defence mechanisms and reach their sunlit zone. If she succeeds, she must then suppress the person's spirit so she can take control, as she does with the butterfly.

When she's inside another person's dreamscape, Paige's dream-form is subject to their personal view of her. If she wills it hard enough she can override this and make herself appear larger and stronger, as she does when she tries to possess Nashira, but her natural state in Warden's dreamscape is impossible to see:

 I wondered what I looked like. I was in his dreamscape now, playing by his 
rules . . . I had no idea what he thought of me, and I would never find out. 
There were no mirrors in a dreamscape. I would never see the Paige he had created.

While Paige is out of her body, her life functions stop, including her breathing reflex. If she was standing when she "jumped", she collapses. When hooked up to her life-support machine, the Dead Voyant Sustainment System (DVS²), Paige can dreamwalk for long periods of time. Without it, however, she can only risk "quick-fire jumps", lest her body begins to lose too much oxygen.

I hope that was helpful! If you'd like me to cover any particular topics, do let me know in the comments section.


Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Heads Up

I've nearly finished The Mime Order and I'm excited about it. 

Just a heads up: I'm doing a giveaway of two copies of the sampler on Twitter and Tumblr, both of which end at midnight (GMT) today.