Windows and Doors to Our Worlds: Writing LGBTQIA Literature

Laura Lam:

A post I wrote for Author Allsorts:

Originally posted on AUTHOR ALLSORTS:

Windows_and_Mirrors Photo credit: Joseph D. Lipka

This past weekend I was at the American Library Association (ALA) conference in San Francisco. I’ve always wanted to go—I love libraries. I grew up in them, and I worked at one as an assistant for about 8 months, contemplated becoming a school librarian, and was essentially a corporate librarian for 3.5 years. The fact that it was over Pride weekend was extra awesome, as it meant I could also experience one of the biggest LGBTQIA celebrations ever right after the SCOTUS win for marriage equality (Jim Obergefell’s happy, tear-streaked face was my best memory. Such joy, gratitude, lingering grief, and pride).

My photo. Loads more photos of SF Pride on my Instagram. My photo. Loads more photos of SF Pride on my Instagram.

weneeddiversebooksA very welcome overarching trend that weekend was diversity. The #WeNeedDiverseBooks group was there in force, and I saw a great panel—probably one of the best I’ve ever seen—yesterday with Marie…

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The Road Trip to Los Angeles

Last week, my family and I took a road trip down from the SF Bay Area to Los Angeles. We haven’t done a road trip with just me, my mom, and my brother for a good ten years, and it was great. On the way down, we stopped at Marina State Beach (near Monterey).The next stop was at Pismo Beach, which was lovely, and we spent the night in Santa Barbara. The next day, we explored Santa Barbara, going to the marine center and the Presidio, before we battled traffic to Los Angeles.

In LA, we stayed with my Aunt Debby, Uncle Kurt, and my cousin Jake. My aunt has changed careers lately and become an interior designer, and you can see her work here. They have a beautiful home right by LAX, so at night I heard the planes flying overhead.

LA06
The pretty lobby of CAA

We had a busy time when we were down south. On the Friday, me, my mom, and my aunt had a girl’s morning and had manicures and pedicures. Then we all met up for sushi. After that, my brother had to play chauffeur and bring me to a meeting with one of my film agents, Jon Cassir. It was really surreal sitting in the lobby of Creative Artists Agency, realizing I was represented by the same company that reps so many film stars. It was one of those moments where at the low point at the start of 2014 where I thought my career was over and you told me in 1.5 years I’d be sitting there, I wouldn’t have believed you. It was a great meeting where I learned more about how film options and development works, as I wasn’t entirely sure before.

After that, my brother and I went down to Long Beach to meet my older half-sister Wendy, who lives in Anaheim. My dad had two kids as a teenager and two kids in his forties, so my older sister is 52. We had a nice meal at a diner then came back, getting lost about 50x in the process.

Saturday was devoted to book research. My option book for my Tor contract is set in LA, so it was incredibly useful to be able to crawl around downtown and see some buildings I’d googled while drafting the first half of the book. It was sad to see how certain parts of downtown, like the area around the Bradbury building, had once been so lovely but now looked a bit tired and run down, with most of the grand theatres shut or turned into random shops.

Saturday night was my aunt’s birthday, where I was able to see my cousin Dylan and his wife, Rixt, and their adorable daughter Ava for the first time since they moved away from Amsterdam in 2013. Rixt’s parents were also out, and last time I was in Amsterdam we went to their very adorable home outside the city.

Sunday, my childhood friend Natalie drove up from Orange County with her also adorable daughter, Isis. We wandered around Hollywood, which was a trip. So loud and crowded and so many different people smooshed together. People dressed up in costumes or street performers trying to make a buck. People hawking tours around the star’s homes. Religious people in conservative clothing trying to save all the sinners. Little kids amazed at the princesses. Gawping tourists, locals just trying to get from one side of Hollywood to the other.

Monday was Disneyland. We left the house early and was actually through parking and the lines and into the park by 9 am. We left the park at around half ten at night. We went on 18 rides, walked almost 11 miles, and got to have dinner at the Blue Bayou, aka the restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

Tuesday it was time to head back up north. We said farewell to our family and hit the road. I was feeling so drained from Disneyland (near the end of the night I’d half-lost my voice), so I slept in the car. We took a hike at Point Lobos and saw seals!

That night we spent in Carmel, which was very cute and quaint but would be crazy expensive to live there. We had some amazing Mediterranean food.

The last day of the road trip, we explored Carmel a little more, spent some time on the beach, and went to the nearby mission. By then, we were nearly home, and it felt good to be back and knowing Craig, my husband, would be flying out the next day.

Now I’m still hanging out with family a lot, but trying to get back into work, doing such joyous tasks as my UK and US taxes. I’ve finished a short story and will soon tackle my half-finished book, which should be easier now that I’ve visited the setting. It’s been nice to be back :-)

Books Read in May

Didn’t read as much as I’d like due to editing deadlines, but I still went through a couple.

1. Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Niell. A dystopian future similar to The Handmaid’s Tale. I can see why it’s gotten so much attention, but it didn’t quite work for me. I’d try another book of hers, though.

2. The Mirrored World – Debra Dean. Historical fiction set in Russia around Catherine the Great’s time. I enjoyed it but certain aspects felt glossed over.

3. The Shining Girls – Lauren Beukes. Been meaning to read this for ages after really enjoying Broken Monsters. It was a creepy, enjoyable thriller starring a time travelling serial killer.

4. Fool’s Assassin – Robin Hobb. Re-read in anticipation of Fool’s Quest being out this summer. I want to read the sequel so badly it pains me.

burialrites5. Burial Rites – Hannah Kent. A story of a woman sentenced to death for murder in Victorian Iceland. Well-researched and written, and unsurprisingly, a sad read.

6. The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution – Walter Isaacson. Partly book research, partly general interest. A good overview.

Total books so far in 2015: 31.

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

Books Read in April

I’ve been slack on the blog, but here’s the books I read last month:

Jennifer_Finney_Boylan_Shes_Not_There_sm1. She’s not There: A Life in Two Genders – Jennifer Finney Boylan. My mom lent this to me, as it was the Freshman Read at my alma mater last year. It was a wonderful memoir of a MTF trans woman and her experiences. Funny and moving.

2. The Darkest Part of the Forest – Holly Black. Holly Black is one of my authors I go to for a comfort read.They always have characters you root for, a great atmosphere, and tight plots. This one is set in a small town of Fairfold where the fae are always nearby and have a way with meddling with lives.

3. The Martian – Andy Weir. I listened to this on audiobook. It was an interesting book, and how if I’m ever trapped on Mars, I’ll know how to grow potatoes.

4. In the Woods – Tana Franch. I loved this book. Excellently written and a great mystery. Detective Andrew Ryan is in some ways frustrating and unlikeable (though understandable considering the massive amount of stress he’s under in this book), but his partner Cassie Maddox is the real star of the show. Really want to read The Likeness now, as it stars her.

5. Waverley – Walter Scott. Re-read for an essay for uni, plus about a book’s worth of articles and excerpts of analysis. I’m writing about the supernatural and Gothic allusions in the book.

6. Loose Changeling – A.G. Stewart. Andrea is in one of my writing groups and she came to my Shadowplay launch in SF. I was excited to read her first book and it was fun, fast-paced urban fantasy with fae. A perfect palette cleanser after the rather dark In the Woods and the very dense prose of Waverley.

7. Second Position – Katherine Locke. If you love ballet films with Center Stage, do yourself a favour and read this book. It’s a romance about two ballet dancers whose lives have fallen apart. After four years, they run into each other again and wonder if they can ever hope to pick up the pieces.

8. Turning Pointe – Katherine Locke. Technically this is a novella, but I’ll count it anyway. It’s a prequel novella for Second Position and was just as lovely, and very sad as it’s set around the events that drove Zed and Aly apart four years before the book.

Total books in 2015: 25

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. :)

Books Read in March

I actually read more this month that I thought I had, since it’s been such an emotional roller coaster.

BOOK Book Reviews 115148190421. The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins. A fast-paced thriller I read in a day, about a woman who sees something on a train and has to unpick the mystery. I do love me some unreliable narrators.

2. No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State – Glenn Greenwald. Book research.

3. Inheritance (Adaption #2) – Malinda Lo. Been meaning to read the 2nd half of this dulogy for awhile and it did not disappoint. Loved learning more about the Imria and getting to the bottom of the mystery. Plus: polyamory in YA!

4. In Case of Emergency – Courtney Milano. Reading for the Bisexual Book Award. I enjoyed this one a lot.

5. Solaris Rising 3 – edited by Ian Whates. I finally got around to reading this anthology, which has my story “They Swim Through Sunset Seas” in it. A good collection–I really enjoyed Gareth Powell’s story in particular.

6. A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab. Loved this book. It was the perfect escape during a particularly difficult week.

7. Greenvoe – George Mackay Brown. Read for uni.

Technically I also read Masquerade this month, but I’m never sure if I should count my own books in the totals. It does take me 2x as long to read them as I’m going over them more carefully. I also read some other articles and stories and such for uni.

Total this year: 18 books

Goal: 75 books