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Friday, 25 January 2013

2013 Debut Author Interview: Laura Lam

Every Friday here at The Book Goddess blog, I will be featuring one 2013 debut author and interview them about their upcoming book. If you want to take a look at the past interviews, go HERE.

About the author of PANTOMIME!
Laura Lam Laura Lam was raised near San Francisco, California, by two former Haight-Ashbury hippies. Both of them encouraged her to finger-paint to her heart’s desire, colour outside of the lines, and consider the library a second home. This led to an overabundance of daydreams.

She relocated to Scotland to be with her husband, whom she met on the internet when he insulted her taste in books. She almost blocked him but is glad she didn’t. At times she misses the sunshine.

PANTOMIME  by Laura Lam - debuting February 5th 2013 from Strange Chemistry

R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass—remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone—are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.

Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star.

But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.



1.    Describe your book in 5 words.


Secrets, identity, magic, flying, falling.


2.    PANTOMIME I thought was a very unique book. How did you come up with it and the characters Micah and Gene without giving too much a way?


I actually started another book with a 27-year-old Micah Grey, first. The character came into my head almost by accident, but I was a little nervous about writing a character like Micah. So I took my time, did some research, and then realized I needed to tell his story.


But I kept getting stuck on the plot and tapping into his voice. I thought I’d write a “short story” about Micah’s background to get a feel for him. But I fell in love with the circus and the characters and the straightforward coming of age story and that became its own book.


3.    Do you prefer Micah or Gene? Who was the easiest and the hardest to write about and why?


I love them both. Micah gets to have a lot more fun than Gene, however. They were both about the same level of difficulty in terms of writing. I found the voices very easy to tap into, but perhaps Micah’s was a bit harder because I had to balance him against so many more characters.


4.    Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started? What was your publishing journey like?


I started writing as a teen but didn’t finish anything. I took a break for a few years and read a lot to get an idea for the kind of fiction I liked best. I studied creative writing at university (which in retrospect was not the best for day-job career prospects) and wrote short stories and poems, and placed in a couple of university contests. It was during uni that I came up with the idea for Micah Grey.


I became serious about writing in late 2009, just after I moved from California to Scotland to be with my husband, who I met on the internet when I was 15 and he was 16. The only job I could find was a really boring admin assistant job, and so I daydreamed the plot while I filed and wrote both Pantomime and the adult Micah Grey book in the evenings. I finished Pantomime and subbed it to Angry Robot’s Open Door month in March 2011, not really expecting anything but proud of myself for subbing.


To my surprise, I made it to the editorial round. But there were lingering issues with the manuscript, and they thought it was YA. But luckily, they were branching out into YA anyway, so I was their first submission, I think. I received a revision request in November, spent 3 months editing, and then grabbed an agent and a book deal in 3 weeks. Everything came together and it still feels a bit like a fairy tale.



5.    Aside from PANTOMIME coming out this year, what else can we expect from you? New books, new projects?


It gets a bit tricky to speak too much about books not under contract. There will definitely be a sequel to Pantomime. I’m also working on another project set in the real-world, which is a gothic tale with a twist. I’ve also written some short stories set in Ellada & the Archipelago, Pantomime’s world, and have ideas for other Micah Grey books as well. So hopefully there’ll be some announcements about those this year!


6.    As a reader, what is the most important to you, the characters or the plot? And as a writer, is it different?


Characters. If I love the characters I’ll follow them anywhere. Give me the most amazing plot but terrible characters and I put it down. With writing it’s the same. I like doing character studies and I’m probably never going to be an action thriller writer, as that’s just not my style.


7.    What made you decide to write a Young Adult book?


As I said, I wrote one by accident. I’ve read a lot of YA for years and adore it, but I’ve also read adult fantasy where the protagonists were teens, so I wasn’t really sure initially which side of the divide Pantomime should be on. That’s why I initially subbed it as adult. But with the themes explored, I do think it belongs firmly in the YA camp.


I think it was easier for me to start with YA because I was 21 and being a teen was so fresh in my mind—I remembered all the heartache and the fierce desire to figure out who you are and what you believe in. YA has such powerful emotions and stories and so it was what I was drawn to explore.


8.    What are you feeling now that we're getting nearer to the February release date? Are you nervous or just really excited to get PANTOMIME out into the hands of readers and bloggers?


Both? It’s my dream come true, but it’s also so terrifying. In some ways Pantomime is quite a personal book, as if through a lens I shared more about myself than I originally meant to. But I think most authors must feel that way with their work. But I love the story of Pantomime and I love Gene and Micah, and I’m so glad other people are growing to care for them too. It’s wonderful.


9.    What other books are you really looking forward to read in 2013?


So many! A few sequels like Dracomachia by Rachel Hartman and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. I also really like the look of Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson and keeping up with the Strange Chemistry titles!


10. Did you had to do any research for PANTOMIME and if so, can you tell us what?


I did quite a lot of research into the circus, circus slang and customs, the Victorian society, etiquette and debutante balls, industrialization, colonization, and possible future technologies. Whenever I go to a museum, little interesting tidbits find their way into my head for a later date.

I try not to make too many notes as I research, so then that way it comes to me organically as I write, instead of me trying to fit in as many of the factoids I’ve stumbled across as I can. I love research, so it’s always a pleasure, especially when I stumble across something that I know will enrich the story.

I've already read PANTOMIME and it was awesome! Read my review HERE.

Check back next Friday for our next author interview, Lauren Miller (author of PARALLEL) and an ARC giveaway of her book, Parallel!


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