Today I have an interview with one of the February 2013 Anticipated YA Debut Authors! Today’s featured author is Laura Lam—and her first novel, Pantomime, is out in stores tomorrow, February 5, from Strange Chemistry! Read on to see how Laura answered my Q&A…
Scroll down to see who won the giveaway!
Nova: I’ll start with the dreaded question you may be hearing already from strangers on elevators, long-lost family members, and your doctor while you’re sitting on the examination table in the paper gown during your next checkup: “So what’s your book about?” Surely you don’t carry around a copy so you can recite the description off the flaps, so how do you answer this question when asked?
Laura: 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 and they learn they might be the key to unlocking the secrets of Ellada.
NRS: In my experience, novels transform themselves, sometimes unrecognizably, during the course of being written. Were there any shocking transformations that occurred between rough draft and final bound book?
LL: This book changed a lot. I originally submitted an early draft to Angry Robot’s Open Door Month. It was shorter, in chronological order, and while it was a pretty good draft, it wasn’t there yet. I had a rewrite request and ended up gutting and rearranging the story, developing it, and adding more magic. The book is so much stronger now, and I have so many people to thank for that, especially Amanda Rutter & Strange Chemistry for offering me the second chance and one of my beta readers, author Anne Lyle, who recommended the structure change.
Additionally, in that rewrite, I added in what I thought was a small, throwaway sort of character, but she has since become very prominent in the sequel. It’s amazing how certain characters can take you by surprise.
NRS: So you’re here with me gossiping about your main characters behind their backs. What’s something they wouldn’t want anyone to know that might make them blush?
LL: Many things make Micah blush! He has a very obvious crush pretty early on in Pantomime, and having someone point it out would turn him beet red in no time. Also, Micah has many secrets he wouldn’t want divulged to the circus, which would mortify him to no end…
NRS: Tell us about the place—as in the physical location: a messy office, a comfy couch, a certain corner table at the café—where you spent most of your time writing this book. Now imagine the writing spot of your fantasies where you wish you’d been able to write this book… tell us all about it.
LL: I write a lot in cafes. I can write at home, but I become easily distracted, mainly by my cats. During the weeks I write at Starbucks, and most Saturdays I write in my favourite local café. That said, I’d love to have a proper writing cave and office. I live in a very tiny flat, so when I write at home, my desk is a TV stand in front of my sofa! Or, you know, writing on a tropical beach or various places as I travel around the world would be all right too, I suppose.
NRS: To go along with the theme of this blog (and my life), what is the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
LL: Many! Cats & Twitter are the key suspects.
NRS: Imagine you’re on the subway, or bus, or sitting in a park somewhere minding your own business… and you look up and see the most perfect person you could imagine devouring your book. This is your ideal reader. Set the scene and describe this person to us.
LL: I must admit, I do fantasize about being on a train and seeing someone reading my book. It’d be a teen boy or girl, someone who maybe feels awkward in his or her own skin and is still figuring themselves out. They’d be reading, their nose close to the page. That would be incredible to see.
NRS: If you could go back in time to whisper a few words of advice into your own ear before you leaped into this writing career, what would you tell your young, impressionable self?
LL: Stop faffing about and write the damn thing. Also: don’t be so hard on yourself. You are not the worst writer in the world. You’re not the best, either, but you’re not the worst!
NRS: Dream question: If you could go on book tour anywhere in the world, with any two authors (living or dead), and serve any item of food at your book signing… where would you go, who with, and what delicious treat would you serve your fans?
LL: I’d love to do a tour around the US. I grew up in California, but I’ve only really been to coastal states, so being able to see it from coast to coast would be incredible. I’d like to go with authors I admire who seem like they’d be fun to travel with, so I’ll choose Laini Taylor and Gail Carriger, though they might outshine me between the awesome pink hair and the amazing steampunk outfits, so I’ll have to up my game.
I’d love to serve afternoon tea to my fans! There’s an afternoon tea scene in Pantomime and I might have gotten a little carried away with describing the food. So sandwiches and cakes and tea for everyone!
NRS: How do you plan to celebrate your book’s birthday tomorrow?
LL: When it comes out in the States, it’ll be a pretty normal day for me and I’ll be at work trying to concentrate. On the 7th, which is the UK release, I’ll be down in London for my Forbidden Planet launch and being super excited because my mom is flying out from California to be there.
Pantomime is on sale in the U.S. tomorrow, February 5, from Strange Chemistry. Read on for a chance to win a copy of the book!
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.
Visit her at www.lauralam.co.uk to find out more.