One can only imagine how daunting it would be to embark on the writing of a seven-part series, especially one set in the secret cell of a criminal underworld in the year 2059. Clearly, Samantha Shannon is not bound by timeworn advice to “write what you know”; and perhaps the scope of her undertaking is less daunting because she is 21 years old. The Bone Season will be published right after she graduates from Oxford.

In fact, Shannon says, the idea for Bone Season is grounded in reality: “I was doing an internship at a literary agency in Seven Dials, London. I had an image of a girl, having the exact same day at work that I was, but she happened to be clairvoyant.” Shannon says she ran off during her lunch break and started planning a society of clairvoyants in a futuristic version of the city. She went on to write for 15 hours a day while studying for her secondary school exams, causing her mother to worry about her health. Can you blame her?

Bloomsbury editor Rachel Mannheimer reports that The Bone Season was originally submitted in the U.K. to Alexandra Pringle, Bloomsbury’s group editor-in-chief, by David Godwin (of David Godwin Associates, where Shannon had been interning). “The unanimous feeling was, we had to have this,” says Mannheimer. “Samantha has created a wide-ranging, mythic story in a whole new world, a future Earth with an alternate geopolitical history, new creatures from another realm, and humans with new powers—a whole taxonomy of clairvoyance. There was no doubt about global potential.”

That hunch about global appeal turned out to be right: so far, The Bone Season is being published in 21 countries and has been optioned for film by Imaginarium Studios. Bloomsbury’s announced first printing is 150,000 copies.