Today I'm interviewing UKYA author Laura Lam as part of her blog tour. Laura's debut YA novel, Pantomime, is being published by Strange Chemistry in the UK on 5th February 2013. Read on for more:
Pantomime by Laura Lam - 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. from Goodreads.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Laura. I grew up in California, and my parents were both hippies. I now live in Scotland because I fell in love with a Scottish boy. I read a lot and have a lot of nerdish hobbies, and I love to travel whenever I can get away.
Have you always wanted to be an author?
Pretty much. I’ve always been a big reader, but 15 was when I actually started writing in fits and starts. I ended up losing confidence and not writing much in my later teens, but it was still an eventual goal in the back of my mind. I decided to read a lot, and so I gobbled about 150 books a year for a few years, in all genres. When I was 19-20, I came up with the idea for Micah Grey, and I knew that he was a character that was here to stay.
How did you come up with the idea for Pantomime?
As I mentioned, Micah Grey developed first, and I actually have about 85k of a book with him as an adult in his late 20s, which now needs to be mostly rewritten. But I wasn’t quite ready to write that book yet, and I kept getting stuck. So I decided to develop his back story and thought I would write a “short story” about Micah Grey joining the circus as a teenager. I got a little carried away.
If you could describe Pantomime in three words, what would they be?
Magic, identity, secrets.
Why will readers like your main characters, Gene Laurus and Micah Grey?
The book is in first person for both Gene’s and Micah’s sections, so you really get into their heads. Though through circumstances they have to lie, in their inner dialogue they are very honest. I’d like to think they’re likable characters, even if they occasionally do unlikeable things.
What research did you have to do for Pantomime? Was there anything you found that surprised you?
I did a LOT of research. I researched the circus, circus slang, and the circus in Victorian society. I looked at circus fiction, such as Water for Elephants and The Night Circus. I researched Victorian society in general, and future technology theories. And I also researched a lot about “the twist,” which I’ll leave vague for now. And, annoyingly, that research was what surprised me most. I didn’t realise how badly people were treated in the past and still are today because of what they are and how they were born.
So vague, sorry!
Tell us about how you write; do you write in a particular place? Do you have any music playing? Do you have any must-haves with you while writing?
I write all over the place. Right now I’m sitting in a Vodka bar, but this is unusual. There’s some rather strange electronica music playing at the moment. Usually I write in Starbucks or my local independent café. I write at home as well, of course, but I’m a lot more productive out of the house. I don’t need to have music—all I need is some sort of hot drink and some motivation. Unsurprisingly, I also get a lot more done when I turn off the wireless.
What was most surprising to you during the writing process?
How words do add up to form a book. I wrote Pantomime very slowly, and the first draft is very different from the version that will soon be on the shelves. But those little sessions of 500-800 words turned into a first draft, and it ended up being a very different book than I thought it would be when I set out.
How does it feel to know your book will soon be in the hands of readers?
Terrifying and exciting in equal measure. I’ve had some wonderful advance reviews, but it’s nerve- wracking to see how it’ll do when anyone who wants to can purchase it and step into my world.
Anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for having me, Jo, and thanks to everyone for reading!
Thank you, Laura, for such a great interview! I can't tell you how good Pantomime is! It's amazing! You can read my "mini" review here - my full review will be published later this year, when I'm able to talk about the twist in more detail. You can find Laura on her blog, Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.
Be sure to visit Book Fairy Haven tomorrow for the next blog stop!