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.

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 May

Didn’t read that much this month – I had to edit my own work quite a bit and it took up most of my reading energy.

1. Golden Boy – Abigail Tarttelin. A contemporary novel about an intersex teen named Max. Excellently written and tugs at the heart strings. Very recommended (thanks Orion for the copy!)

foolsassassin2. Fool’s Assassin – Robin Hobb. MUAHAHA I GOT TO READ THIS BEFORE IT’S OUT. But now I have to wait until 2015 to find out what happens next. Noooo! This is a continuation of my favourite series by my favourite author. The last new Fitz & Fool book was released in 2003 (and I read it in 2004). It was surreal going back to these characters after so long. The last time I read them for the first time, I was a teenager and I’d just met my now-husband. I lived in California instead of Scotland. Fitz is older, but I’m older, too. I loved this book so much I can’t quite articulate it. I can’t wait to read it again. (thank you to HarperVoyager for the proof).

3. The Boy with the Porcelain Blade – Den Patrick. A member of Team Mushens and an excellent debut, out from Gollancz. It’s an intricate, atmospheric book set in a castle, slightly reminiscent of Gormenghast. There are houses, and the Orfano, people who are all slightly different in some way. It follows the story of Lucien, and time-jumps between his younger and older years. Recommended!

Total: 31 books

Shadowplay Teaser 10: The True Temnian

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10. The True Temnian

“If the Kymri are more predisposed to worship the sun, then the Temnians have more respect for the lunar cycle. During the full moon, or the night the Penglass glows under the stars, there is a huge celebration and feast. Elders dress as the moon and stars and bestow blessings upon those who need them. Special food is created that may only be eaten that night sweet mooncakes and small sips of a drink called Dancing Water made from almonds, fermented honey, and small gold flakes, which is meant to be an elixir for long life. Small amounts of the drug Lerium are also sampled. On this night, men and women are meant to become closer to the Lord and Lady and their prayers will more likely be heard and wishes granted.”

– The Former Elladan Colonies, Professor Caed Cedar, Royal Snakewood University

Interested in more? Shadowplay, the sequel to Pantomime, will be released January 7, 2014.

Pre-order links:

UK: Amazon – The Book Depository – Hive
US: Amazon – Barnes and Noble – Indiebound – Powell’s
Canada: Amazon – Indigo
Australia: BookAdda
NZ: Fishpond

Shadowplay Teaser 9: Mirror Maze

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9. Mirror Maze

“I had to sell another of my automata today. Each time, I sell my least favorite, but that means that each time I part with the next, it grows harder. I sold the golden tamarind monkey, and it was a shame. I hope its new owner cherishes it.

“At least soon it will be the Night of the Dead, and I should have more bookings for séances. It will delay the date I must sell the next.

“I still have all of Taliesin’s automata. Those I shall never part with, no matter my finances. Someday I’ll figure out how he makes them tick. Then I’ll be one step closer to revenge.”

– Jasper Maske’s personal diary

Interested in more? Shadowplay, the sequel to Pantomime, will be released January 7, 2014.

Pre-order links:

UK: Amazon – The Book Depository – Hive
US: Amazon – Barnes and Noble – Indiebound – Powell’s
Canada: Amazon – Indigo
Australia: BookAdda
NZ: Fishpond

Shadowplay Teaser 8: Shadow of a Shadow

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8. Shadow of a Shadow

“A magician creates magic and mesmerizes the audience. But it is a pantomime, and the audience knows that it’s a ruse. It’s in the name: a “magic trick”. They play along when the magician tugs his sleeves to show there is nothing hidden within them, or that the top hat is empty of a rabbit, or eggs, or flowers. Beneath the façade there is only sleight of hand, wires and contraptions, misdirection at a key moment.

“But what the audience does not realize is that it’s not always trickery. Or at least, not quite.”

– The unpublished memoirs of Jasper Maske: the Maske of Magic

Interested in more? Shadowplay, the sequel to Pantomime, will be released January 7, 2014.

Pre-order links:

UK: Amazon – The Book Depository – Hive
US: Amazon – Barnes and Noble – Indiebound – Powell’s
Canada: Amazon – Indigo
Australia: BookAdda
NZ: Fishpond

Shadowplay Teaser 7: The Philosopher and the Fool

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7. The Philosopher and the Fool

“Your whole life, you are told what is right and what is wrong. What you should do and what you should not do. What makes a good citizen and what makes a traitorous one. What happens, then, when you do everything you are not meant to do? Break down each and every barrier? Find out how good you are by how evil you can be?

“Some say this is how the Alder became great.”

-The Tyndall Philosophy, Alvis Tyndall

Interested in more? Shadowplay, the sequel to Pantomime, will be released January 7, 2014.

Pre-order links:

UK: Amazon – The Book Depository – Hive
US: Amazon – Barnes and Noble – Indiebound – Powell’s
Canada: Amazon – Indigo
Australia: BookAdda
NZ: Fishpond