In Conversation: V. E. Schwab and Samantha Shannon

Schwab + Shannon

As if a weekend of YALC wasn’t quite enough for me, on Friday I travelled back down to London (which is slowly becoming a home away from home, dare I say) to attend a marvellous event with V. E. Schwab and Samantha Shannon. The event was chaired by Lydia Gittins (Titan Books) and held at the magnificent Waterstones Piccadilly (if you’ve not been, add it to your must visit list NOW!).

2017 has been a year where I’ve tried to go to more of these events but finding ones I want to go to during times when I can go has proven to be quite tricky with a 2+hr commute involved so I was beyond delighted when I saw that I could attend this one. I am a HUGE fan of V. E. Schwab (as you will know if you’ve read any of my reviews of her books) and I think she is such an inspirational person and a fantastic role model. Although I haven’t read The Bone Season yet, I do follow Samantha Shannon on Twitter and have met her at previous book events and heard her speak so I knew we would all be in for a treat on this one.


Luckily for me the lovely Nicola was also going to the event and managed to snag me a seat in the front row – look how close we were!

I had seen V. E. Schwab in a panel at YALC the weekend before but I was still super excited when her and Samantha Shannon took their seats and the conversation started. There were some GREAT questions from Lydia and really interesting discussions. I thought that both Victoria and Samantha were very engaging, entertaining and interesting to listen to.


Both ladies made very interesting points when questioned about being female writers of fantasy, with Schwab sharing that the reason for her gender ambiguous pseudonym was that she wanted her readers to enjoy her story and didn’t want the decision of whether or not to pick up her books to be made purely because of her gender. Samantha and Victoria both shared their own experiences of being sat on panels full of men and some of their uncomfortable moments. Victoria said she still gets readers who are suprised to discover she is not a man! I thought this opening question was really interesting and there were certain moments where gasps were audible from the audience, making everyone laugh!

Another favourite moment of mine from the discussion was the importance of fashion/costume in their novels. Both authors agreed that the fashion in their novels was of importance and both had their reasons behind certain aspects of the costume. Victoria shared with us the secret of Kell’s coat and it BLEW our minds (those of us who hadn’t figured it out!). Samantha based the colouring of the costumes in The Bone Season around the tradition of wearing different coloured carnations to sit exams during her time at Oxford – I hadn’t heard of this before and thought it was really interesting. When asked why costume was so important, both authors agreed that without a key costume piece (eg. Kell’s coat) it can be much harder for a reader to bring the characters to life in their mind.


Writing tips! I do love when authors are asked to share some writing tips and I mainly enjoy this question because I think it’s fun to see how different they all are. As I’ve heard many authors say, there is no one way to write or to write a successful novel. It is about finding something you’re passionate about and sticking with it. As Victoria told us, if writing brings a warmth to your heart and soul that cannot be replaced with anything else then write. It’s a long, hard journey for writers to get published and so your heart, mind and soul have to all be in it if you are going to succeed. As Samantha reminded us there are many, many ways into publication. She even gave a little shout out to the New Voices panels from YALC which were two of my favourites and definitely showed us that not everyone follows the same route into being published.

There were lots of other fantastic questions and points made during the panel including the use of a historical point to ground their books in the real world, portal novels and world building. I felt that I learnt a lot from both Victoria and Samantha as well as sharing a lot of laughs with others in the audience too.


After the chat was over there were the signings. As I didn’t have my copies of The Bone Season with me I queued to meet V. E. Schwab and get my books signed. It was a fairly long queue but that didn’t matter (I even missed my train and ended up getting one an hour and a half later but I didn’t mind!). Once I got to the front I was equal parts nervous and excited to talk to Victoria as she is a person that I hugely admire and as I’ve mentioned before, I just adore her writing. She was ever so lovely and easy to talk to. We had a nice chat and then I absolutely had to fangirl over the incredible shoes she was wearing. She kindly signed my books and then we had a photo together.

This was a fantastic panel and it gave me lots to think about as well as giving me the chance to meet and talk to one of my favourite authors. Memories that will last a long time!


What has been your favourite bookish event of 2017?

Which author would you love to meet / see in a panel?


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16 responses to “In Conversation: V. E. Schwab and Samantha Shannon

  1. Pingback: SUNDAY SUMMARY 13.08.2017 | Kelly's Rambles·

  2. Wow, that sounds awesome! I’m so glad you had a wonderful time. I have yet to attend any bookish events, but I’m hoping I make it to a few by the end of the year. If not, that’s definitely going on my bucket list for next year. What a wonderful post! I just stumbled upon your blog, and I’m greatly enjoying its content.

    I’m new to blogging and book reviewing, and I was wondering if you had any tips for newbie bloggers and book reviewers.

    If you have the time, please check out my blog @breenysbooks. I’d love any feedback. Have a wonderful day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi! Thank you so much, the event was a lot of fun. I definitely recommend going to some bookish events if you get the opportunity, they are so fun.

      Thank you for the lovely content – I’m actually following your blog already! 🙂

      I am no expert but my main tips would be to comment on other blogs and interact within the community, follow other blogs too. This will help to grow your own audience. Sometimes taking part in tags such as Top 10 Tuesday can help too. My main tip though is to enjoy it and do it for yourself, don’t worry too much about what others think, it is your blog, after all 🙂


  3. Great post, Kelly! It sounds like it was an ideal combination to put Samantha Shannon and V.E. Schwab on the same panel – the shared discussion topics are so engaging. What is the secret of Kell’s coat?! (It never occurred to me to put it down to anything other than magic!)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This sounds awesome! I would have loved to hear more about being a female author in a genre dominated by men. That always fascinates me; I wonder how much unconscious gender bias exists in the world of literature.

    I haven’t been to any author events in 2017 yet. 😦 The closest ones to me are over 3+ hours away with no public transportation, so I’d have to pay out the nose for parking. I haven’t found one worth going to yet, honestly. I hope some come closer!

    Okay– I need to ask…. what secret about Kell’s coat? It didn’t even occur to me to ponder on his coat at all!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that in certain genres of literature there is definitely still a big gender bias and both Schwab and Shannon summed it up perfectly by talking about how many panels they had been sat on with only white men. It certainly gave me a lot to think about.

      I hope you get some author events close to you soon, Jackie. They are such a wonderful experience! I was super lucky to have two of my favourite authors in my home city in January but nothing here since then. Luckily when it is not term time it’s generally affordable to make it to London for events I really want to go to.

      Kell’s coat is an homage to the Room of Requirement in the HP series. It becomes whatever he needs 🙂 very cleverly done, I thought!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I would love to hear what they have to say about the panels they sit on and other experiences as female fantasy authors. that would be really interesting. I’ll have to see if I can find some other author events near me!

        OBVIOUSLY! That’s so brilliant and so obvious once I think about it. Thank you for sharing! I totally want Kell’s coat…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds like a great discussion and some different areas than were covered at her Edinburgh event.

    Schwab’s shoes were also fab at that event. I’m now wondering if they are the same ones or if she has a collection of beautiful shoes 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so glad you enjoyed it Kelly. It’s really hard to get to London for all the bookish events I’m sure we’d love to go to. Im looking forward to Bath’s KidLit Festival at the end of September though! Maybe I’ll see you there.

    Liked by 1 person

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