Sunday, February 3, 2013

Follower Love Blog Hop, Featuring Laura Lam, author of Pantomime and International Giveaway

Follower Love Giveaway Hop

February 5th - 11th

Co-hosted by The Reader's Antidote

I am very excited to welcome, Laura Lam, to my blog for an interview and giveaway. Her book, Pantomime is wonderful, and I want to share it with the world!

Pantomime Goodreads Book Description: 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.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review:  I am completely emotionally exhausted after this book. I was given this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Pantomime by Laura Lam is about Micah Grey, a performer in a circus troupe and also Gene, the daughter of a wealthy noble. They both have secrets to hide, ones that put them in grave danger. I don't want to give away big secrets in the novel, so that's where I'll have to stop. It's too bad because I'd love to explain why I am so drained and what an experience this book was. I will say this-- this is the most painfully honest depiction of a coming of age story that I have seen in a long time.

This is a gorgeously told story, and we get intimate details of living in a circus troupe. I felt like I was there. Gene and Micah are likeable characters, and the supporting characters are very well done also. SPOILER ALERT BUT ALSO A WARNING: I recently had a bad experience with another reviewer who said that every book should state clearly in the synopsis that there are gay characters so that readers could avoid them, so I just want to mention that if you have big issues with depictions of homosexuality or transgender characters, you must look elsewhere. It's too bad, because I think this book rises above those simple labels.

Overall, I felt this novel was thought provoking, intricately described, with fascinating characters and an intriguing protagonist. I'll be definitely picking up the next installment.

Author Blurb:
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.

Twitter: @LR_Lam

Author Interview

1.       Tell us a little about your journey to becoming a writer.

I have always been a reader and always wanted to write. I started a truly heinous novel when I was 15, which I never finished. It had cat people and fairies and no plot. I put writing aside for a few years and read a lot instead. I studied creative writing at university, where I wrote poems and short stories and came up with the idea for the character of Micah Grey. But I didn’t seriously start writing with an intent to actually finish and try getting published until I moved from California to Scotland and was stuck in a boring, boring filing job. I daydreamed and planned during the day and wrote in the evenings.

I tried writing a book with adult Micah, but it didn’t quite work yet. So I decided to write a “short story” to get to know Micah’s past when he joined the circus. I got a little carried away and Pantomime ended up being the first book I finished. I was 21. I then subbed it immediately to Angry Robot Book’s Open Door month (as adult science fiction—don’t ask me why. Past me was such a publishing n00b), and eight months later I had a revision request from the Strange Chemistry branch because it was a pretty good draft but it needed more work. I heavily edited the book and returned it to Amanda Rutter in March. She took it to acquisitions for Strange Chemistry, their new YA imprint, and in the meantime I nabbed agent extraordinare Juliet Mushens. So 2 days later I had both a deal and an agent and I was a professional writer.

2.       I loved your description of the circus in Pantomime, and it reminded me of Cirque du Soleil. Can you describe a little where your inspiration for this setting arose and how you researched your topic?

I’ve always loved the circus and thought it would be a great setting for a novel because you have so many different, strong personalities in this isolated setting. Everyone in a circus is  on the outskirts of society. As Drystan, the white clown, says in Pantomime, circus folk feel like they’re playing a joke on the world. There’s so much opportunity for politics and jokes and theatrics that it was so much fun to write.

I did a lot of research. One really useful book was The Circus and Victorian Society by Brenda Assael. Taschen’s Giant Circus Book (and it’s seriously huge, you could weight lift with that thing) has some absolutely amazing photographs which inspired some imagery in Pantomime. I watched endless clips on youtube (including Cirque du Soleil!) and researched circus slang. I also read fiction with circuses, such as Water for Elephants and The Night Circus, to see how they approached themes.

3.       If you could meet another author, who would it be and why?

I probably mention her so many times that I sound like a broken record, but Robin Hobb really is my favourite author, and I’d love to meet her. I’ve read her dozens of times and she’s probably my biggest influence. I even met my husband through her books, so it’d just be great to shake her hand and say thanks and get a cheesy photograph and a book signed.

4.       Why did you decide to write YA versus another genre?

I’ve always been a big YA reader but I didn’t really set out to write a YA book. As I said I started with an adult Micah Grey, and even when I wrote Pantomime I wasn’t sure if it was YA or adult. It contains some mature themes and the first draft had more overt sexuality, hence why I subbed it to Angry Robot. Luckily, though, they were thinking of starting a YA imprint so I went there. I’m very happy to be writing YA, as teenage years are so formative and intense. You don’t feel anything by half measures as a teen, or at least I didn’t. Everything was either amazing or terrible and could vacillate at a moment’s notice.

5.       If you could have Micah Grey meet another character in another book, who would it be and why?

Ooh, tough one. I think Tobin/Tamir from the Tamir Triad by Lynn Flewelling would have a lot in common and be friends.

6.       What is your favorite YA book of all time and what is your favorite read from the past year?

I have to cheat and bow out of the all-time fave one, because I have too many. In the last year, I was really impressed by Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, which I stayed up until 2.30 in the morning to read. But I’ve read lots and lots of amazing YA this year, so I’ll also mention Cinder by Marissa Meyer, upcoming The Oathbreaker’s Shadow by Amy McCulloch, Angel’s Fury by Bryony Pearce, the Leviathan Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld and the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray.

7.       Tell us a little about the sequel to Pantomime without giving too much away!

Hmm. Well, it doesn’t take place in a circus but has magicians of the illusionist variety. There’s answers about Vestige, the Chimaera, and the Alder. Expect kissing, heartache, Shadows & doctors.

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  1. is this INT giveaway ?
    if yes please count me in..
    thx u :)

  2. Awesome interview! I always like hearing how authors get published, and what they've gone through writing their book.

  3. Thank you for a chance to win and for being a part of this fun and awesome blog hop!!