Yesterday I made my first appearance on the radio for the local station schmuFM, 99.8, on the Literature Show. I chose a few songs, did a few readings, and answered some questions. I think it went pretty well, all told! Thanks to everyone involved in the Literature Show for inviting me to come: Haworth Hodgkinson, Ian Anderson, Rachel Grant, Mark Pithie, and Colin Edwards. The show will re-air at 1 pm on Monday on 99.8 FM, but you can listen to it online anywhere–but only until next Sunday!
Friday the 15th was my Aberdeen launch at the local Waterstones, for my friends and family who understandably couldn’t make it out to London. And wow. I moved to Aberdeen three and a bit years ago, knowing only Craig’s immediate family and friends. About 80 people showed up to my launch. I stood in front of them and felt so overwhelmed and blessed. I know I’ve been saying that a lot, but it’s still true. The support I’ve received for the launch of my baby book has been extraordinary and I’m so touched.
So this launch went similarly to the London one, except this time I had a normal microphone as opposed to a Madonna headset. I read from a different section and opened it up for questions again, and I actually got about 10 questions! Whoohoo. And then the signing. Unfortunately, Waterstones didn’t anticipate 80 people coming (I sent them the FB event page which showed at least 70, but in retrospect I should have confirmed numbers! But I was a little distracted by London), and so there weren’t enough books for everyone.
In any case, they’re going to order more stock and perhaps hold another signing, so I’ll announce that when I know more. It felt pretty rockstar to sell out in about 2 minutes though. It was nice to chat with people and sign more books (I’ve signed 139 at the time of writing in total!). Craig bought me a fancy fountain pen for signing, though it might not be the best choice when signing more than one or two at a time as bits of the paper kept getting stuck in the nib.
Afterwards, it was a lot of flitting around between groups and speaking with people. My Aberdeen worlds collided–in the same room were: Craig’s family, people from my current job, people from my old job at the library, two of my writing groups, people from nights out, and others. I was on a nerves and adrenaline high the whole time but overall I was just so happy. My book is out there and people came to launch it in style. Thank you, everyone, and I hope you all come back for launch 2.5! <3
The Forbidden Planet launch at London’s megastore on the 7th was wonderful. I flew down Wednesday night, and the journey ended up being rather farcical as I took: a car to the airport, the plane down to London, a bus, a train I had to wait 25 minutes for, an overground that I had to wait 20 minutes for, and then a cabbie who first couldn’t find me and then got lost twice on the way to where I was staying. Oy ve. Luckily, when I was stranded waiting for the taxi with a dying phone at freezing Willesden Junction in the middle of the night, I met a nice girl and boy who walked around with me a bit.
Wednesday, I hung out with Strange Chemistry author & friend Kim Curran and then went to collect my mother, who had flown out for my launch. On the way to collect said mother, as soon as I left the Royal Festival Hall, the first person I saw walking down the street was…the girl I’d walked around Willesden Junction with at midnight the previous night! What are the odds of that? So I gave her my card and invited her to my launch.
My mother and I checked into where we were staying and then went to stalk Forbidden Planet. My mom, the obligatory paparazzi, took these photos. She also might have cried a bit, and just barely refrained from spontaneously combusting with motherly pride.
I still couldn’t believe I was in the front window. So cool.
After that, we met up with editor extraordinaire Amanda Rutter for tea and then down to begin the actual launch! I think around 40 people showed up. I was both more nervous and not as nervous as I thought I’d be. So many faces!
I was originally going to read my first chapter but then Amanda rightly pointed out that a 3 minute reading might be a little short (darn it, she caught me out!), so I improvised another reading instead, and I think it went pretty well aside from the occasional stumble and my earrings clicking on my Madonna headphone set at the start.
Afterwards there was a Q&A but only one question (which my agent asked, hehe), and so next was the signing. As I’d only signed 4 books before that day, it was still weird to scrawl in books. I was writing in books! Wasn’t I ruining them? Did people really want my scribble? I also decided to number them as I signed because I’m geeky like that. I’ve now signed 77 Pantomimes.
It was lovely to see some bloggers I’d met at the Strange Chemistry launch back in August, except now they’d read the book (and liked it, whew), plus put faces to a few people I know from Twitter and meet a few strangers (!). As ever, it was great to see familiar faces like (cue namedropping): Juliet Mushens, Kim Curran, Adam Christopher, Amy McCulloch, Tom Pollock, Anne Lyle, Adrian Faulkner, Molly Ker Hawn, Will Hill, James Dawson, Paul Cornell, Liz de Jager, Jen Williams, & Laure Eve. One of my closest friends in Aberdeen traveled all the way down–yay Lorna! I also met an online friend for the first time, Imogen, and saw online friends again for the first time in a while (Susannah & Sandra), and my cousin Dylan and his lovely Rixt were there from Amsterdam. Also: the girl I met from the tube and then on the street showed up, though unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to say hello. Thank you for coming, Diana, if you see this!
A huge thank you to everyone at Forbidden Planet as well, who made my first launch smooth and seamless and helped put me at ease.
Afterwards we went to the Phoenix pub and though it was hard to grab enough seats and chairs, it was nice to be able to chat at length with people. I drank champagne and felt very blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful folks to launch Pantomime into the world.
We finished on a note of unhealthy food at Byron burgers, and by then the adrenaline was wearing off…so I had some sugar.
I’m still on a bit of a high from how amazing it all was…and then there’s still the Aberdeen launch next week!
Well. Today is Pantomime‘s US release date. I am now a published author. It’s so surreal. I woke up this morning and when I checked my phone, Caroline Hooton had tweeted me this photo of Pantomime in the Strand Bookstore in New York.
This week has been a culmination of “is this real life?” moments. For instance, on Saturday (when at my favourite local cafe for the last time as they have now shut down, which is devastating), I was just settling down to edit when Stephen J. Sweeney was walking down the road in London and spied something in the window of Forbidden Planet:
Pantomime hanging out next to The Wheel of Time, Gail Carriger, and other famous people/franchises. I was absolutely floored! All productivity went out the window.
Again, I was so touched and amazed. I’m going to send Teacup a signed copy of Pantomime as a thank you, because how often does someone get fan music, and such gorgeous music at that?
Monday continued to be surreal. At lunchtime I went to the local Waterstones where I’ll be having my Aberdeen launch, and I made a beeline for the L section of teen books. And wahey–I was face out and there were SIX copies! I was so pleased.
…And then I stood up, turned around, and saw the table display. My mouth dropped open comically.
So here we are. Tomorrow night I’ll be flying down to London for my Forbidden Planet Launch on Thursday. I’m out there in the US officially, and a few UK bookstores have me out already.
And now, my sales pitchy stuff, where hopefully I convince you to buy my book!
Strange Chemistry is also holding a contest to capture photos of Pantomime out in the wild to win more books! For details, click here.
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 Chimeras 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.
“Who hasn’t dreamed off running off and joining the circus? Laura Lam’s Micah does just that, discovering a world of clowns and acrobats, con men and tricksters, corruption and incompetent doctors, and maybe more about himself. I look forward to more from this author.”
- Brian Katcher, author of Almost Perfect and winner of the 2011 Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award
“Micah is the most wonderful, complex, brave and contemporary teenage hero I’ve read, facing issues of identity and responsibility that will resound with any reader who has felt like an outsider. Pantomime is loving in it’s detail but hints at so much scope to come, it feels like the set up for an epic sequel. I raced through this book, desperate to know what happens next. ‘Look out behind you’, Robin Hobb…”
- Bryony Pearce, author of Angel’s Fury.
“Welcome to a world of shills and showmen, fading tech and circus freaks, where nothing and no-one is what it appears. An absorbing, accomplished debut.”
- Elspeth Cooper, author of the Wild Hunt series
“A lyrical, stunningly written debut novel, which set my heart racing with every lift of the trapeze. In Micah we have one of the most original – and likeable – protagonists I’ve read in a long time. An author to watch, without a doubt.”
- Amy McCulloch, author of The Oathbreaker’s Shadow
“In Pantomime, Laura Lam has created a world which will take your breath away, and characters you will never want to leave. Enchanting.”
- Lou Morgan, author of Blood and Feathers
“With its cast of runaways, freaks and bullies, Pantomime blends Victorian circus glamour with grittier YA themes like identity, body image and independence. Entertaining and thought-provoking by turns, this is an assured debut by an exciting new fantasy author – Laura Lam is a name to watch!”
- Anne Lyle, author of The Alchemist of Souls
“Ancient myths, vintage tech and living wonders abound in the riotous carnival of fancy which is Pantomime. Lam paints her world with greasepaint and stardust while exploring the notion of the circus ‘freak’ with subtle brilliance. A spectacular and brave debut!”
- Kim Lakin-Smith, author of Cyber Circus
Long post is long. TLDR: I AM VERY EXCITED. I’m trying to be cool, like this:
But really I want to be all:
A few days ago, the final version of Pantomime arrived. This was a moment I’d been idly daydreaming about since I was 14, and maybe even earlier than that. It’s one of the last milestones–ones I’m still looking forward to are signing my book for a stranger and walking into a bookshop and seeing my book on the shelves, plus others to come.
Wednesday night, I had just come back from the gym and I was starving, sweaty, and tired. None of that mattered when I opened the box and saw 20 copies of my book. I burst into tears–I was absolutely overwhelmed. There they were. Finished Pantomime, all grown up and ready to go into the world. When I could breathe again, I ate some food, waited until my face stopped being all splotchy, and took this photo.
A few days later, I went out for a meal with my husband’s family to celebrate the engagement of my brother-in-law and soon-to-be-sister-in-law. I gave a copy to each brother and their fiancees, and a copy to Craig’s parents. I was able to sign my first copies in an Indian restaurant.
So that was really amazing.
It’s one week until the US launch and 9 days until the UK launch. I’m torn between excitement and fear. It’s never far from my mind. It feels like another farewell and yet a new beginning. Evidently Pantomime is already shipping to those who pre-ordered on Amazon UK. I’ll be a published author with my book in bookshops, just like I’ve always wanted. Aiiee!
On one last marketing note, we’re running another Goodreads giveaway, this time for a signed final edition of Pantomime.
My Blog Tour for Pantomime begins today, January 18th, and runs to February 7th currently, which is the UK launch date. Below are the places I will be appearing, and I’ll come back and edit as the posts go live.
My blog tour is sort of two parts. My publisher Strange Chemistry arranged a blog tour with the bloggers in their Chemistry Set. But over the past few months I’ve also had bloggers contact me for interviews and I’ve also approached some of my favourite blogs. This means on some days there will be more than one post.
For the blogs arranged by Strange Chemistry, there’s a blog button, made by Kenda.
Isn’t it lovely?
And here we go:
18th January: Guest Post – The Road to Publication: The Book Galaxy
19th January: Interview: A Fantastical Librarian
20th January: Interview: Manga Maniac Cafe
21st January: Interview: Book Club Forum
22nd January: Guest Post – Top Ten Settings I’d Like to See More of in Young Adult: Bookworm Dream
23rd January: Interview: Readaraptor
23rd January: Excerpt – The Snake Charmer: Fantastical Imaginations
24th January: Guest Post – Why the Circus and Elladan Worldbuilding: Book Adoration
25th January: YA Debut Author Interview: Once Upon a Bookcase
25th January: Interview: Cuddlebuggery
25th January: Interview: The Book Goddess
26th January: Guest Post – Tour Through Ellada and the Circus with Pictures: The Book Fairy’s Haven
27th January: Interview: Nawanda Files
28th January: Guest Post – The Edibles of Ellada: Book Sake
28th January: Guest Post – Pantomime’s Metafiction (and Giveaway!): Rainy Day Ramblings
28th January: Interview: Two Fantasy Floozies
29th January: Interview: Reader Girls
30th January: Character Interview – Micah Grey: YA Sisterhood
31st January: Guest Post – New Year’s Writing Resolutions: Lost in Thought
1st February: Guest Post – Top Ten Films that Tie into Pantomime’s Themes: One Page Reviews
2nd February: Guest Post – Bookcase Showcase: Overflowing Library
2nd February: Review and Giveaway for a Signed Pantomime: Ensconced in YA
3rd February: Review: Candace’s Book Blog
3rd February: Review, Interview, and Giveaway for a Signed Pantomime: Ensconced in YA
4th February: Guest Post – The Safe Haven of the Circus: Fantasy’s Ink
4th February: Interview & Giveaway: Distraction no. 99 (Nova Ren Suma’s Anticipated YA Debut Series)
4th February: Review & Guest Post – An Introduction to R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic: Fluttering Butterflies
5th February: Interview: Winged Reviews
5th February: Newsletter Guest Post – The Fear and Joy of Writing Pantomime: The Book Smugglers
6th February: Interview: Snarky Bird Book Reviews
6th February: Guest Post – On the Back Lot of the Circus: One a Day YA
7th February: Guest Post – My Favourite Bit: Mary Robinette Kowal
7th February: Interview: Terribleminds (Chuck Wendig)
8th February: Guest Post – The Big Idea: Whatever (John Scalzi)
10th February: Interview: City of Books
12th February: Guest Post – Turning Points: Distraction no. 99 (Nova Ren Suma’s Anticipated YA Debut Series)
13th February: Interview: My Bookish Ways
15th February: Giveaway: City of Books
Been awhile since I did a general update of stuff, so here we go!
1. My launch at the London Forbidden Planet Megastore now has an event page. Please feel free to join if you wish to come or to invite friends and family you have in the area you think might wish to attend. Everyone is welcome, from all ages, and it’d be great to meet people who have read Pantomime, or who are interested in picking it up.
2. Oh mah gah I’m in a magazine! One of the members of my writing group who moved away to Glasgow was rifling through SciFiNow and came across my name! It’s a pretty balanced review of Pantomime. It was quite a weird experience to walk into a WHS at lunchtime and buy a copy (or three…) of the magazine. I also may or may not have been so excited that I showed the shopkeeper as she rang up my order.
3. Jessica at AllwaysUnmended posted a long examination of the themes in Pantomime, which was so fascinating for me to read as an author. Warning, there are some spoilers within, though they are clearly marked. The first half of the review does not have spoilers.
General writing updates:
In December, I focused a lot on publicity for Pantomime‘s blog tour, and I also wrote 3 first drafts of short stories, which are all set in Ellada. I don’t know what I’ll do with them, and all three of them need more work. But even if nothing comes of them, I had fun and learned a little bit more about another little boy from a noble family in Ellada, what lurks in the waters off the coast of Linde, and what happens to a group of miners after they discover a priceless Vestige artefact deep within the mines of Byssia.
I also went on a research trip to the Czech Republic and was thus able to finish my outline of another WIP and to edit the first 20k into something that makes more semblance of sense. I also outlined another book. And December was meant to be me taking it easy.
January will mainly be spent finishing up the guest posts and interviews for Pantomime‘s launch, trying not to freak out too much, and also switching gears back to editing Pantomime2. Whew.
2012 is almost done. And we’re all still here.
Last year, as I said in my previous end-of-year review, I landed a full-time, permanent job, which I am still in and I work for a great company with nice coworkers. In non-writing life, that gave me some much-needed stability. I was able to travel more this year, and I went to London a few times, Edinburgh, Chicago, home to San Francisco, and right now I’m in the Czech Republic and will go to Germany in a few days. I also made some lasting friendships, and though I definitely had some obstacles, non-writing life was pretty good.
Writing-wise, last year was a big deal for me because I started sharing my work with others. 2012 continued that trajectory in a very big way.
At the end of 2011 I had a rewrite request with Strange Chemistry and was working on revisions for Pantomime. I was a little over halfway, I think, and had no idea if my new version would land me an agent and a book deal. I finished the rewrite at the end of February. By the end of March I had both an agent a book deal, and had my own path to publication.
2012 was a year of firsts. First book deal, first ISBN numbers, first professional edit, first cover, first ARC that I held in my hands, first book reviews (and oh my word, it took some time to get used to the fact that people were actually reading my book. I felt so oddly exposed), first everything. Every small step was a milestone.
2012 was also the year where I wrote almost every day. I edited Pantomime several times, wrote the first draft of the sequel, and the rough 1/3 of another project, plus a few short stories. I also had to start marketing and doing interviews and guest posts, plus trying to keep this blog active. It was hard to balance with full-time work and other obligations, but I managed, more or less.
Now, at the end of 2012, my baby book is all grown up and edited and has almost 100 ratings on Goodreads, mainly from strangers. I feel like I’m holding my breath a little now at the tail end of 2012. Just 36 to 38 days into next year, my book will be out on the shelves and it’ll be the moment of truth: how will it be received? I’ll be on the other side, able to walk into a bookstore and see my book on the shelves, something I’ve dreamed about since I was fourteen.
So, 2013: time for us to dance.
First order of business: Pantomime has an official London launch & venue: February 7th at the Forbidden Planet megastore, hooray!
Thursday 07 February 2013 18:00 – 19:00
London Megastore, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JR
More information can be found in the press release on FP’s website.
I will also be having a book launch closer to home in Aberdeen: details to follow.
Please come, one and all! I won’t have the stage presence that R.H. Ragona, the Ringmaster of the Circus of Magic has, but I’ll do my best. If you’re London-based and free that day, please feel free to bring anyone you think might be interested, or pass along the relevant information to Londoners. Fun for all ages!
Second order of business: I provided my first blurb, for Amy McCulloch’s wonderful desert fantasy debut, The Oathbreaker’s Shadow. Think YA Dune meets Avatar: The Last Airbender, and that gives you a good flavour of this rich world.
In The Oathbreaker’s Shadow, Amy McCulloch weaves an intricate coming-of-age tale of the consequences of broken promises and betrayal, set in a rich world of magic, desert sands, and hidden cities. A page-turning debut from a talented new author.
And lastly, I have a few Pantomime links to share (there’s been a fair amount of reviews as we get closer to release, so here’s a sampling. For more, see my Facebook author page:
Niko on about.com says: “Laura Lam makes the circus magical once more, and I was captivated from the first page.” (Note: this one has a spoiler in the last paragraph but it’s clearly marked)
The Twins Read say: “Pantomime is an impossible reality, it’s like watching every whimsical and eerily beautiful dream we’ve had about the circus come to life. Dreamlike and surreal, Pantomime manages to evoke visions and paint images in the reader’s mind that make it easy to believe that a world like this could actually exist.”
Becca @ Lost in Thought says: “Why did this book have to end? Seriously, why? As I came to the last page I felt as if I was coming to the end of a whirlwind romance and I would never feel the enjoyment and amazement that I experienced at first sight again. Pantomime blew me away, under, over and afar, and is most definitely a contender for my favourite book of the year.”
I have also featured on a few bloggers’ best of 2012 lists, even though I’m not out until 2013! I had to pinch myself a fair few times.
If I missed any, let me know and I’ll add it.
Definitely helps me end 2012 with a big ol’ smile on my face.
Today I had my first review of my book from someone I didn’t really know. It’s another milestone—and phew, it was a very lovely review! But it made me realise that my time of more or less controlling my readers is now at an end. Not everyone is going to leave a glowing review—and that’s perfectly fine. ARCs have gone out on their merry way. I have no idea who has them, unless they’ve tweeted me a photo. I’ll be on Netgalley in a few weeks. And in less than 4 months, anyone who wants to can get a hold of my book and start reading.
It’s something I’ve dreamed of, but it’s also a little strange. Obviously, I’ll get used to it, but it’s that initial disconnect. I spent so long on those words, that if you plucked out a quote I would be able to tell you what chapter it’s in. I’ve read it 20 or more times. It’s the first book I finished and submitted and soon it’ll be out in the world.
And it’s amazing!
It also feels like a farewell. I’m letting go. The book will now stand on its own. It will mean very different things to readers than it means to me. I’m done editing that book, and though I’ve flipped through my ARC, I’ll never be reading it again with the intent to change anything, unless I proof it one more time. Now, I’m focusing on the sequel, which I should finish the first draft of shortly. I’m also planning and poking at other books, books not set in Ellada or that star the same characters. Every book I write will be special to me, but Pantomime was my first love. I wrote it having absolutely no idea if it’d ever be published, where I had that innocence and burning, fierce hope that someone would like it enough to let it see the light of day.
So, off you go into the world, little Pantomime. Fly, me lovely!