A Day in Edinburgh: Guest Talk at Napier University

Photo credit: David Bishop
Photo credit: David Bishop

Yesterday I went to Edinburgh to do a brief guest talk at Napier University for their MA Creative Writing students that are specializing in Genre. As a side note, I love that a course in genre is offered, as so many creative writing courses have a decidedly literary fiction bent. Which is fine if you wish to specialise in literary fiction, but if a student wishes to be a screenwriter or write genre, it can not be as useful. So, yay Napier!

I was nervous and might have rambled a bit too much, but the students were all so sweet. David Bishop, their professor, asked me some questions and then the students did. We discussed publishing–and I told them all my stupid mistakes I made so they don’t have to!–as well as: privilege in fiction, the QUILTBAG aspects of Pantomime, the cover image & marketing, and other topics that’s now a blur of nerves. I had a wonderful time and I hope the students enjoyed my talk.

David Bishop is also doing a project where he takes 100 portraits and I’m one of them. You can see the others here.

Afterwards I went to a nearby pub and spent the evening with the lovely, talented YA author, student, and commercial photographer, Elizabeth May. We’ve known each other on the Twitter. We are both Californians in Scotland writing fantasy. So we met up and drank beer and during the five hours where we chatted a mile a minute NONSTOP discovered we have so much more in common that it’s a bit uncanny. Yay Elizabeth May!

Overall, the last two weeks I’ve been adjusting to life on the other side of book publication. My friend sent me a photo of my book in New Zealand, and others have sent me photos from Canada and various places in the US and the UK. But it’s WEIRD, man. You prepare for the launch and then suddenly…it’s out there. And life goes on and is normal, except for little snippets of amazingness. I’ve been getting a few fan letters, which I honestly never thought I’d get. I love getting them, though–they brighten up my day to no end.

Pantomime’s Aberdeen Launch

Photo credit: Alex Silver

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.

Photo credit: Waterstones Union Bridge
Photo credit: Waterstones Union Bridge
Photo credit: Claire Jubb

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! ❤

Pantomime’s London Launch

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!

Pantomime Achievement Unlocked: Officially Published

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.

In the Strand

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:

forbiddenplanet2 forbiddenplanet1

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.

Sunday was also amazing because Magickedteacup left a comment on the Pantomime Blog Tour Post saying that they had written a waltz based on Pantomime!

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!

Amazon US, Amazon UKBarnes and Noble, The Book Depository, Waterstones, or see if your local independent has Pantomime or can order it in for you.

DRM-free on the Robot Trading Company, which means you can buy straight from the publisher. Also: Amazon UK & Amazon US.

Strange Chemistry is also holding a contest to capture photos of Pantomime out in the wild to win more books! For details, click here.

Cover copy:

Pantomime-coverR.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: