Laura Lam is the author of Pantomime, which is published on 7th Feb. I was lucky enough to be able to read it early, and my review is here. Laura is touring around various sites and blogs prior to publication, and as part of that, she's answered some questions for me...
Q. Could you start off by telling us a little about the storyline for Pantomine?
A. Most of Pantomime is set in a circus, R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic, set in Ellada, a pseudo-Victorian secondary world, where magic is long-gone…or so they think.
Pantomime follows Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family who doesn’t fit into the world of corsets, crinolines, and cotillions. It also follows Micah Grey, the newest aerialist of the circus. Their stories intertwine in ways you may not expect and they learn they might be the key to unlocking the secrets of Ellada, and that the past is not so easy to run from.
Q. Where did the story start in your head, with Gene, Micah, or the circus?
A. Definitely with Micah Grey. He appeared in my head in 2007, but I didn’t start writing about him for about a year, and when I did, he was 27, not 16.
Q. Pantomime is set in a fascinating fantasy world - do you see this as somewhere in our own future, or a completely different place?
A. Aha, this is a good question. It could be a possible future version of Earth, where humans lived with the Alder and the Chimaera, and then a terrible event happened, the seas rose so that vast continents turned to islands, and history essentially started over. At the time of Pantomime, the people are in another Victorian age, of a sort, but with remnants of this past advanced civilization. I put in some hints to this here and there, but I leave it unclear. It could easily be another world, very far from Earth, that went through a similar fate. It’s up to the reader to decide which they like better
I did learn that Ellada is a name for Greece, though, by coincidence!
Q. Did you always intend this to be a YA book, or did it develop in that direction?
A. Initially I started a book with an adult Micah Grey, but I kept getting stuck so I decided to write about Micah’s teenage years when he joined the circus. I thought it would be a short story but it turned out not to be. When I finished, I initially subbed it as adult science fantasy to Angry Robot’s Open Door month, which is a bit funny as it’s now marketed as YA fantasy, which fits it much better. I did think it might be YA, but some of the themes are a bit more mature, so I submitted it anyway. Turned out the gamble worked—the Overlords thought YA would work better, but they were going in that direction anyway. I might have been SC’s first submission, but I’m not sure!
Q. How do you feel about the distinction between YA and ‘adult’ books - do you think it’s helpful or restrictive?
A. I think it can be both useful and restrictive. If I pick up two fantasy books and one is marketed as YA and another as adult, then I will assume the YA one will probably be a little shorter, more action-packed, and the romance fairly innocent—no detailed sex. But at the same time, that’s no guarantee of that at all, and sometimes I feel the line between YA and adult fiction can be very small indeed. I’ve read some YA that’s very sophisticated and some adult fiction that reads more juvenile.
Q. There are also some sci-fi aspects throughout the story, will these become more prominent in the next book?
A. Yes, but I won’t say any more than that.
Q. What can we expect from the next book, is it a direct continuation of the story?
A. The next book continues the theme with theatre but in the form of magic and illusion. There are still secrets to be kept and secrets to unravel, and it begins less than an hour after the end of Pantomime.
Q. What are your plans for the series - do you have a set number of books planned for it?
A. Ideally, I’d like to do a trilogy for the young adult Micah Grey books and an adult trilogy as well. I also have other ideas set in Ellada and the Archipelago but that do not feature the characters in Pantomime.
Q. Have you always wanted to be a writer, and how does it feel to now have a published book?
A. Definitely since I was around 14 I wanted to be a writer. I’ve always been dreaming up stories. To know that my book will be on the shelves soon still feels real. I achieved my dream. Even if it all falls apart from here on out, I still got my book in the shelves for people to read.
Q. Tell us a little about you as a reader, what do you enjoy, and what’s on your bedside table right now?
A. I’m a huge reader. I read a lot of YA fantasy, unsurprisingly. I’m currently reading The Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher, which is just wonderful. I have a soft spot for anything with gorgeous prose and characters that get under your skin. Authors where I’ll read anything they write: Robin Hobb, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Zoe Mariott, Margaret Atwood, Patrick Ness, Sarah Waters, Ted Chiang, Michael Marshall (Smith), Scott Lynch, and many more.
There are lots of ways to find out more..
Author Interview - Laura Lam
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