I have ANOTHER interview for you lovely lot! This one is with Laura Lam. She is due to release her first book early next year, it's called Pantomime and looks amazing! I can't wait to read it. This is Laura's first interview, so make sure you leave a comment to tell her how cool she is! :p
Congratulations on your debut book Pantomime! How do you feel now that it's due for release next year?
Terrified! And really, painfully excited. I keep having to pinch myself . It still doesn't feel real, and I'm not sure it will until I have the physical book in my hands. Maybe not even then!
I love the concept behind Pantomime, where did you find the inspiration?
This is actually a bit of a weird story. I started an adult book with a character called Micah Grey first, but I kept stalling and stopping because I was 19 at the time and couldn't quite get the sardonic, self-assured adult voice across yet. So I started thinking about my character's backstory, and thought a circus would be good training for his later career (which I won't say!)--it'd give him strength, flexibility and acting skills. I started writing a "short story" about Micah Grey in the circus and it took on a total life of its own. So that's where one of the primary characters and the setting of the circus came from. The world came from lots of research into the Victorian era and mythology, and influences from the various authors I've read.
What is it about YA books that you love the most?
Emotion in YA is so raw. When they fall in love, it's the first time and it feels everlasting, and teenagers fall hard. They don't normally have quite so much emotional baggage. Everything is new and fresh and frigthening, and tapping into that emotion can result in some very powerful stories. I seem to be drawn to characters that slip through the cracks or fall between ideologies. Teenage years are so formative. Childhood is a vivid memory but they're figuring out who they will be as an adult, and as a reader and a writer I love taking that journey along with the characters.
Are there any projects that you are working on at the moment?
I'm getting close to finishing the first draft of the sequel to Pantomime, which has not yet been officially named, though my various working titles all currently begin with 'P.' All I'll say about it for now is that it features magicians! I'm also working on another story completely unrelated to the world of Ellada, where Pantomime is set. I'm still figuring it out but it's a Gothic ghost story with a twist. That's been really fun to play with so far, as it's set in the modern day in the Czech Republic so I can actually find out answers to things instead of making it all up as I would with a secondary world. Of course, it has its own challenges as well.
Is there any one book or author that has inspired you to write?
To anyone who knows me I'm going to sound like a broken record--Robin Hobb. She's handsdown my favourite author and I've read her many times since I first discovered her at 15. If you haven't read the Farseer trilogy, I really recommend that you pick them up, along with her other work. She writes incredible, character-driven fantasy and her worldbuilding is top notch.
Another book that made me step back and think "wow, I wish I could write something like this" is The Stars my Destination by Alfred Bester, a SF novel from the 60s. He has a singularly unlikeable protagonist but come on, it's the Count of Monte Cristo! Set in space! Fantastic book from a fantastic writer.
If you could have any magical power what would it be, and why?
The ability to teleport. I was in a long distance relationship for 5 years (I was in California and he was in Scotland), and there were so many times where I wished I could just instantly be where he was. I also love travelling but hate airports, so being able to snap my fingers and be in Prague or Hawaii would be perfect.
If you could have written any book in history, which one would it have been?
That's a tough question! And one I have to be annoying and bow out about. I don't often find myself wanting to write books others have written, though I do get book envy with some incredibly well-written books. One I was recently jealous of was Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, but I wouldn't want to have written it, as I'm sure it would have turned out to be a very different book to Seraphina.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Erm, not a lot, sadly! I have a full-time job and so a lot of my free-time is spent writing or procrastinating at writing--darn you, Twitter! *shakes fist*. I also read a couple of books a week and I like to go to the gym occasionally and watch TV and film. I've started going to more conventions lately as well, which are great for meeting likeminded folks.
What are your plans for the next five years?
I have lots of plans, many of them harebrained and not properly thought out yet. I do know I want to keep on writing away, so maybe I'll have at least five more books written by then. I have some vague notions of perhaps teaching English abroad for a year in somewhere like South Korea because I think that'd be a great experience.
If you could invite any five fictional characters to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
Dr. Barlow from the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld - she could teach me cool stuff about science, and probably some stuff that would make me lose my appetite
The Fool from Robin Hobb's books as he'd have lots of witty banter and jokes and I'm a little in love with him.
Seraphina from Rachel Hartman's debut - she's got a good head on her shoulders and she could also play some music for us.
Jean Tannen from the Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch because he reads a lot and it seems like we'd get on.
Tyron Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire because he's awesome and he'd tie everyone together--crack inappropriate jokes with the Fool, get drunk and start singing with Seraphina, get into philosophical arguements with Jean and Dr. Barlow.
Is there any advice you were given, or would love to have been given, when you first started to write?
I did my undergraduate degree in creative writing, so I did get a fair amount of advice. I also read lots of agent blogs (and became thoroughly depressed at the small percentage of writers they pick up), and read lots of articles. In fact, I think I read too much writing advice in some ways. For a long time I was too scared to put stuff down on the page and wrote in tiny little fits and spurts. The most important writing advice is, as ever, just to write--and to write however works for you. Some like a rushed vomit draft that they then basically rewrite. Others like to be story architects. There's no one way to do it, even from book to book, as I'm now discovering.
Is there anything you would like to say to your fans and readers?
So far I've been able to largely control my readers--beta readers and some publishing folks and a few authors who have graciously decided to read it in advance. ARCs will probably be in a few months. So I don't have too many readers or fans yet! Obviously I'm hoping when people read my book they like it, and if they do and say some lovely things I'd be eternally grateful. Also, if they love Micah Grey, I've plenty in store for his character!
Wow! Thank you Laura! I have to say that I think that the preliminary cover art for Pantomime looks fab! --->
Here is the blurb for the book:
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 Chimaeras is still there. It’s a place where anyone
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 is with the Strange Chemistry label, and I have been lucky enough to be invited to their launch party on Thursday! *Happy Dance!!* So I will be dedicating a whole post to the antics and shenanigans of that on Friday, so make sure you come back! lol
See you next post!