The Grey of Gender

In the build up to the ebook re-release of Pantomime & Shadowplay on December 3rd (they are available for pre-order), I am reposting some of the articles I wrote in 2012/2013 for the initial blog tours.

Content note: genital surgery. 

Before writing Pantomime &Shadowplay, I was interested in gender, but now I’m passionate about it. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I was always surrounded by different sexualities, races, abilities, and gender presentation. But for all of that, when I decided to write about a character who fell between genders, I knew I needed to learn more. I am always consciously aware that, as a cis-gendered woman, I am very much an outsider looking in, and my goal is to tread carefully and with respect. I’m not sure I always succeed, but I do always try.

I read a few books on gender theory, and then started researching intersex especially. What I found made me cry. I had no idea that babies a few days old were operated upon to make their genitals look “more normal,” even though that can take away a lot of sensation and, of course, the doctors half a 50/50 chance of choosing the sex that the child’s gender identity won’t identify with. I didn’t realise that a lot of the time, those surgeries can later have complications, resulting in many other surgeries.

Read the read on the Uncorked Thoughts blog.

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Autumn & Winter Holidays in Ellada

In the build up to the ebook re-release of Pantomime & Shadowplay next month, I thought I would repost some of the articles I wrote for the initial blog tours onto this site. This is a piece about winter holidays in Ellada that originally appeared on Starmetal Oak’s blog in late 2012, which closed down not long after.

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The holidays are upon us. In the country of Ellada in the world of the Archipelago, the pseudo-Victorian world where my debut Pantomime is set, the winter holidays are both similar yet different to ours. Pantomime is set in spring and summer, so these holidays don’t appear until Pantomime’s sequel, Shadowplay.

There are two main autumn and winter holidays. The night before the longest night of the year is called The Night of the Dead. It’s slightly similar to our Halloween in that many feel the barrier between the living and the dead grows thinner. Many people hold dinner parties with séances for entertainment. Others who are more superstitious will stay inside, windows shut tight, so that the dead cannot come to haunt them.

The longest night of the year is known as the Lady’s Long Night or the Long Night of the Lady. Elladans and most others in the Archipelago worship two deities—the Lord of the Sun and the Lady of the Moon. The longest day of the year is, coincidentally, the Day of the Lord, but it’s not as largely celebrated, at least not among the common people. Micah Grey doesn’t celebrate it in the circus, for instance. After all, they already spend most of their waking hours in daylight.

But the Lady’s Long Night is a lavish affair, when people celebrate that the worst of the winter and darkness is over. A huge procession twines through downtown Imachara, the capital of Ellada, with floats topped with people dressed as the Chimaera out of myth dressed all in white. Many go to the cathedrals to listen to choirs and pray to the Lady of the Moon. Gifts are exchanged. It’s a time of hope and cheer to remind them of the good in life, just after they were reminded of the sinister in the Night of the Dead.

The Definitive Future of the Micah Grey Series (PANTOMIME, SHADOWPLAY & MASQUERADE)

Micah Grey has had an interesting journey over the past few years. I first dreamt up Micah in 2007 and started a book with the character 10 years older in 2008. At the end of 2009, I was having trouble with it, so I decided to write a “short story” of Micah as a teen joining the circus. That expanded into novella length and then I finally admitted it was a novel. I submitted an early draft of it in March 2011 to Angry Robot’s Open Door month. In November of that year, I had a revision request because it definitely needed work, and I gutted and rearranged it and it found a publisher in Strange Chemistry, Angry Robot’s new YA imprint. PANTOMIME was released in February 2013, and the sequel, SHADOWPLAY, in 2014. Sadly, in June 2014, Strange Chemistry closed. I wasn’t sure initially what the next step for Micah was going to be. I knew I wanted to finish the story with the third volume, MASQUERADE. I set it aside for a bit and I wrote and sold FALSE HEARTS to Tor, which made my dreams come true. Self-publishing seemed the most likely option for the 3rd Micah book, so I researched it and even made a whole draft of a Kickstarter. I self-published the Vestigial Tales last summer to learn about the process. I knew I’d be able to do it, but the idea of publishing on my own was also anxiety-inducing.

Then I discovered self-publishing wasn’t my only option. When I received the rights back for the first two books, my agent pitched my existing publisher. To my absolute delight, Tor UK has bought all three books of the Micah Grey series!

When my agent told me the news, I cried really ugly tears. I sobbed, I hiccoughed. I was a total, happy mess. MASQUERADE (and Micah’s) fate has been up in the air since April 2013. It’s a long time not to be sure of things, and I love this series so much. I’m so glad I’m able to share it with you and that my books starring an intersex protagonist will have the support of a mainstream publisher.

At the moment, this is a UK-only deal, but hopefully other publishers will follow. 🙂

It’s still a bit of a wait for MASQUERADE (a little over a year) but PANTOMIME & SHADOWPLAY will be back up soon.

Thank you to my agent, Juliet Mushens, for selling this series twice now! Thank you to everyone at Tor for supporting my fantasy as well as my sci fi. And, finally, thank you to my readers: I really appreciate your patience and enthusiasm for the series. You kept word of mouth alive. You helped give it this second chance. Thank you, everyone who read my books and told others about them, whether on social media, by leaving reviews, or just physically shoving the book into someone else’s hands. You’re all awesome.

Here is the link to the initial press release, which is also pasted below:

PAN MACMILLAN BUYS DARK CIRCUS SERIES BY LAURA LAM

Pan Macmillan is very happy to announce that it has acquired world rights in PANTOMIME, SHADOWPLAY and MASQUERADE by Laura Lam, from Juliet Mushens at The Agency Group.

These enthralling books are set within a circus in a world somewhat like our own – but where wonders and magic really exist. A young runaway seeks escape from a life of injustice and secrets, and the circus promises freedom. There, Micah will become who she was meant to be, yet the future also holds conflict and dangerous mysteries.

PANTOMIME and SHADOWPLAY were originally published by Osprey Publishing’s Strange Chemistry, before the imprint closed its doors in 2014. But MASQUERADE, the final book in the Micah Grey trilogy, will be published by Pan Macmillan for the first time. Unlike Lam’s upcoming near-future thriller FALSE HEARTS, this series is written for young adults and adults alike.

Laura Lam said: ‘When I found out that the Micah Grey series would be re-released and completed by Pan Macmillan, I was so relieved and absolutely ecstatic. It’s been an interesting journey for Micah, and I’m extremely honoured and grateful to have the support of everyone at Macmillan for both my fantasy and my near-future thrillers.’

Senior Commissioning editor Bella Pagan commented: ‘I absolutely adored Laura’s False Hearts and am so delighted we’ll also be publishing her captivating first series too. These books also show off Laura’s huge talent and I just can’t wait for a new army of readers to discover this for themselves.’

Pan Macmillan plans to release PANTOMIME AND SHADOWPLAY in ebook this autumn. Physical reissues will follow from summer 2016, ending with MASQUERADE, the new book.

ABOUT PAN MACMILLAN
Pan Macmillan UK is one of the largest general book publishers in the UK, with imprints including Macmillan, Mantle, Pan, Picador, Boxtree, Sidgwick & Jackson, Bello, Tor, Macmillan Children’s Books, Campbell Books, Macmillan New Writing and Macmillan Digital Audio. Pan Macmillan is part of the Macmillan Publishing Group which operates in over 70 countries. www.panmacmillan.com

Art, That’s Special

Happy Chocolate Egg day!

I watched Boyhood on the flight home from California. Many details overlapped with mine and (especially) my brother’s childhood. I liked this short clip so I’m putting it on my blog, about work ethic + natural talent.

Mr. Turlington: Who do you wanna be, Mason? What do you wanna do?
Mason: I wanna take pictures. Make art.
Mr. Turlington: Any dipshit can take pictures, Mason. Art, that’s special. What can you bring to it that nobody else can?

In other news, Shadowplay made the longlist of the Tiptree Award. I love Tiptree’s work and always harboured a hope to be on that list because the Micah Grey series is all about exploring gender, so that was a nice boost to yesterday, when I was having a rough day. Congratulations to the winners and everyone on the list. 🙂

2014 Awards Eligibility

As many authors put up entries on award eligibility, I figured I’d do it, too, just in case anyone wishes to nominate my work:

Novel:

Shadowplay, January 2014, Strange Chemistry Books

Short Story:

“They Swim Through Sunset Seas” in Solaris Rising 3, August 2014, Solaris Books

If self-published work is eligible for anything:

Vestigial Tales:

“The Snake Charm,” June 2014, Penglass Publishing (novelette)

“The Fisherman’s Net,” July 2014, Penglass Publishing (short story)

“The Tarot Reader,” August 2014, Penglass Publishing (novella)

“The Card Sharp,” September 2014, Penglass Publishing (novelette)

(Note: the Vestigial Tales are on sale for 99 cents each on Amazon and pay-what-you-want on Smashwords. Feel free to download them for free if you’re short on funds, or if you can, buy them for the price of a cup of coffee. Purchase links here.)

Quite nice to see a wee list of all I published last year. A few things to come in 2015, too! 🙂

Shadowplay on Fantasy Faction’s Top 50 Fantasy Books of 2014

Shadowplay-CoverWhoohoo! Shadowplay is number 17 on Fantasy Faction’s Best 50 Fantasy Books of 2014! It’s at 17, which is pretty damn awesome. Feels great to be on the list and see some love for Micah. They say:

Shadowplay continues Micah Grey’s story, both in terms of plot and character growth. The interplay between Micah and Drystan, the white clown, is charming and heart-wrenching in equal measure, as Micah struggles to reconcile his past life as Iphigenia with his present life as the runaway circus performer wanted for murder. Beneath this internal conflict lies another far larger and more deadly, and Micah is unwillingly caught up in it.

I loved the world Lam created. She discusses themes of social and sexual inequality and sets them against a backdrop of an advanced civilisation long lost. With its immaculate prose, haunting exposition and brilliant transgender protagonist, this series is doing important things for the genre and is an absolute must read.

Number 1 is Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb, which I wholeheartedly agree with, as that’s one of the greatest books ever written, full stop. There’s also a strong Team Mushens presence, with Den Patrick, Liz de Jager, and Jen Williams on there too. Go team! Also nice to see Leigh Bardugo, Laini Taylor, and more.

Any books on the list you’re dying to pick up?

An Update on Pantomime & Shadowplay

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It’s 2015 so I can talk about it now.

As of today, the rights to Pantomime & Shadowplay have reverted to me. They’re no longer offered in e-book. It does look like there’s a few print copies still on Amazon and a few other retailers. My guess is that they’ll sell out this stock and that’s it. So you could still grab them in print over the next few days.

When will they be back up again? I’m sorry, but I don’t know just yet, but hopefully it won’t be too long. I’ll let you guys know as soon as I can.

Thank you again to all the readers who have enjoyed the series and told others about it. Word of mouth was all the series had to go on, and kept it ticking along and finding new readers.

It feels a little strange to technically be unpublished again; I’ve no books available for sale. But this is a transitional phase. These will be back up at some point, along with the third book, Masquerade. And there’s False Hearts to come in January 2016 (now only 1 year away!), which I’m very excited to share with you.

In the meantime, if you want to explore the world of Ellada, the four Vestigial Tales are still up, and they’re all off Amazon exclusivity. The novellas star secondary characters in the series and the last is a short fable.

Happy 2015! May it be awesome.

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