Monday, January 28, 2013

Interview with Laura Lam, Author of Pantomime

Today, I get to present the author of the awesome book Pantomime!! The book was so good, I stopped what I was doing, searched for Laura Lam (genius author), possibly made her uncomfortable  by tweeting my devotion, and then begged her to do an interview with me.

She said yes! Because she is so cool!  So check out my interview below, but first get a quick look at the book that set my brain on fire!

Release Date: Feb 2013
Book Summary: 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.

Laura Lam (future-book-baby-mama)

1- First please tell my readers what a Pantomime is and why you decided to incorporate this into your incredible story.

A Pantomime is more common in the UK than in the US, as the Christmas Panto is a big thing over here. A pantomime is a comedic-dramatic play. I wrote a longer history of the Pantomime HERE.

The shorter version is that the pantomime originated in Rome, which was when they told a story without words, but over the years it became Italian and then distinctly English. It's outlandish and funny, with slapstick and a lot of cross-dressing--the principal boy will often be played by a girl and the dame will usually be played by an older man.

From Laura Lam's Blog HERE

They were sometimes little interludes between opera acts, and so for my pantomime I stole that idea and had the play be little snippets between circus acts of R.H. Ragona's Circus of Magic. The pantomime in the circus is called Leander and Iona, and is about true love and monsters. It ties in very obviously to the themes of gender identity and exploration which are present in Pantomime. To be extra nerdy, some of the play's lines are in iambic pentameter.

2- Why did you decide to tackle the topic of gender identity within your story and how much research did it involve?

 It's something that evolved sort of naturally. I've always been interested in gender identity and some of my favourite fantasy and science fiction addresses this as well--Robin Hobb, Lynn Flewelling, Ursula K. Le Guin, and others--and so when I came up with a certain character, it wasn't unexpected.

But initially I was afraid to write about the subject, worried that I'd get it wrong. So for a good six months I just thought about it and read a lot of books gender & sexuality and GLBTQI issues and watched documentaries and youtube videos.

Some aspects of the research really upset me--the way people are treated just because of the way they were born--and I realised that yes, this was a story I needed to tell.

I realise I'm being a little coy, but we're being vague until the book is out!

3-Clearly, there will be a book two in this amazing adventure, but do you think there will be more than two books or even a spin-off series with other characters?

 Right now I have a contract for two books. I've love to do a third book to make it a trilogy, but that depends on how well Pantomime does.

Hint, hint!

But I also would love to go back to the series I started before Pantomime, which has Micah Grey as a 27-year-old. I'm also writing a few short stories set in Ellada just now, and I have a few other ideas percolating. I love the world, so I'd happily spend many books investigating it through different characters' eyes.

 4- What are three things you believe writers should do in order to improve their craft?

1. Read. Soo important to read, and read, and read some more. Read everything. Stuff you love. Read crap. Read famous classics. Read guilty pleasures. You'll learn so much about the craft of writing from every book you read. Every book I've read is an influence to some degree.

 2. Write. Write whatever. Write a blog, write reviews, write artcles, write short stories, novellas, novels. Try writing with an outline, or without an outline, and figure out what works for you. Get your butt in the chair and your hands on the keyboard and write.

3. Try to drown out the noise. I've noticed especially after getting a book deal that there's so much to worry about now.

Publishing can be a scary beast.

You sometimes feel like just one more voice yelling and waving your arms in a crowded room, trying to be heard. But sometimes you need to block it all out, unplug the modem, and just lose yourself in the words and the worlds and remember why you're doing all this in the first place.

 5- How did you find your agent?
I was rejected by another agent and cheekily asked if he had any other names in mind. I wouldn't normally do that, but we were on friendly terms already via Twitter and I could tell I was a pretty close miss.

One of the names he recommended was Juliet Mushens and I looked her up and she seemed perfect! So I queried her, she requested the full 5 minutes later, and she read it overnight and offered the next day.

I had a publishing offer from Strange Chemistry two days later and so she helped negotiate the deal.

6- What are your next projects?
I'm waiting to hear back about Pantomime 2 at the moment. To keep myself busy, As I said, I'm writing a few short stories set in Ellada, each one centered about a bit of Vestige, which is the advanced technology and/or magic left behind by an ancient civilisation, the Alder.

I don't know what I'll do with them yet, but I'm having fun writing them all the same. I'm also working on another YA which is a gothic ghost story with a twist, set in our world. I also have plenty of other book ideas percolating in the back of my mind, which is nice. When I first started writing I was worried I wouldn't have enough ideas, but so far I haven't run out!


Laura Lam was raised near San Francisco, California by two former Haight-Ashbury hippies. She relocated to Scotland in 2009 to be with her husband, whom she met on the internet when he instant messaged her and insulted her taste in books. She almost blocked him but is glad she didn’t. At times she misses the sunshine.

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