I’ve been slack on the blog, but here’s the books I read last month:
1. 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.
Favourite book read in January: either City of Dragons by Robin Hobb or In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters.
February 2014: Licked my wounds, battled depression and anxiety, and kept promoting Pantomime & Shadowplay. I went down to Newcastle for the North East Teen Book Awards, which ended up being very, very timely. I’d been tempted to take a writing hiatus (because I knew I could never quit completely), and here were teens saying my books were some of their favourites of all time, wanting to take photos and have my sign things, and just in general being so sweet and so enthusiastic about books and reading. I came back and threw myself into the new project I’d been editing. I’d finished the first draft at the end of November 2013, and after some great beta reader comments, I was working on turning it into a workable draft. I called it Bonkers Book on social media. I also announced the Vestigial Tales, or my plan to self-publish some short stories/novellas set in the same world as the Micah Grey series. I also had an Aberdeen launch at Waterstones for Shadowplay, and was really touched by how many people came out for it. I seemed pretty on top of things. Behind the scenes, I was still a mess, though I was getting myself together.
Favourite book read in February: Unteachable by Leah Raeder.
March 2014: I’d been approached to write a short story for an anthology and in March I was able to announce it as Fablecroft Press did a funding drive for the Cranky Ladies of History, which blasted through its goals. I also got to participate in Robin Hobb’s worldwide scavenger hunt (post with pictures illustrating the clues), and am now friends with the girl who found my present, Louise, and we meet for coffee occasionally. I found out Pantomime had been nominated for the Bisexual Book Award—yay! I went to my friend Rhona McKinnon’s wedding and danced at my first-ever ceilidh.
Favourite book read in March: The House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill.
April 2014: There were some good events for #LGBTApril I participated in. I went to my first convention of the year—Eastercon, in Glasgow. As the conventions are usually in England, it was nice to only have to travel 2 hours to get to one, for once! I was on my first panel. I had fun but it was also a difficult convention, as my mental health was still patchy. There was more ceilidh dancing. I finished editing Bonkers Book and was working on the Vestigial Tales. Laya drew her first (of what proved to since be many) fan art pieces, and I also received some fan mail. I was so touched I wrote an emotional thank you to readers. I finished editing Bonkers Book & sent it to my agent and worked on the Vestigial Tales.
Favourite book read in April: This was a good reading month so I had three: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth, and Cress by Marissa Meyer.
Favourite book read in June: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.
July 2014 aka THE MONTH MY LIFE CHANGED: Vestigial Tales: I posted a roundup of “The Snake Charm” and its first month sales, launched “The Fisherman’s Net,” shared “The Tarot Reader’s” blurb and cover, and went on the local radio. Tor/Macmillan offered pre-emptively on Bonkers Book aka False Hearts, changing my life. It was right before a big work audit and I was trying to concentrate on spreadsheets while internally screaming with glee. The press release went live on July 25th. I told work I wanted to stop working full-time. My friend Erica came out to visit from California.
Favourite book read in July: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier and Natural Causes by James Oswald.
August 2014 aka THE MONTH OF ALL THE CONS: Vestigial Tales: I posted my month 2 roundup of being a hybrid author, launched “The Tarot Reader,” and unveiled the cover and blurb for “The Card Sharp.” Erica and I took a day trip to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival. I went to Nine Worlds in London and had a great time—definitely my favourite con of the year. I went to some other London events such as the Broken Monsters launch for Lauren Beukes and the Fantasy in the Court event at Goldsboro Books, where I got to meet some people from my new publisher, like my editor Julie Crisp, for the first time. Then it was time for another convention, Loncon3. I went back to Aberdeen, exhausted.
Favourite book read in August: Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters.
September 2014: Vestigial Tales: another monthly roundup and launching the last of the Tales (for now), “The Card Sharp.” The cons weren’t over! I journeyed down to York for Fantasycon. My husband and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary/10 years of being together. I did some events for #WriteCity in Aberdeen, doing both public events and school visits throughout the city. I started my Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen and began reducing my hours slightly at work. I was able to announce that False Hearts will be published in the US through Tor/Forge and in Italy through Fanucci Editore. Peter F. Hamilton blurbed the book (!), calling it: “A smart debut from someone who’s clearly got what it takes.” I went down to Winchester for Amy Alward’s beautiful wedding. I became a British citizen!
Favourite book read in September: Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes.
October 2014, or THE MONTH OF NO FREE TIME: I did my full-time masters. I did more school visits. I worked around 30 hours a week at the day job. I tried to write, but that didn’t really happen. Pantomime was listed as Gay YA’s October Book of the Month and they did lots of great promotion. I managed to post another Vestigial Tale monthly roundup. I really missed sleep and free time, but by the end of the month, my replacement had started and been trained and I dropped down to around 12 hours a week for work. I finished the first draft of Masquerade, finally.
Favourite book read in October: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (for uni).
Favourite book read in November: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, with an honourable mention to the Complete Atopia Chronicles by Matthew Mather.
December 2014: I finished up the first semester of my Masters degree. I went to London for my agent’s Christmas party. I went to the Isle of Arran on my first-ever writing retreat with Elizabeth May and Emma Trevayne, editing Masquerade for beta readers. I waited to hear about *stuff* and tried to be patient (and failed). I was called back into the day job almost full-time for a little bit. Stress. Stress. Stress. Aaaaand relax. Got ready for Christmas. Ate all the food. Now: reading, watching a lot of TV and slowly editing what I wrote of Brainfreeze Book and sorting through Masquerade beta comments.
Favourite book read in December: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.
I’ve been interviewed for the Bisexual Book column over at Examiner.com!
Jim at YA Yeah Yeah discusses My Indie Bookshelf, and he included Pantomime as one of his recommendations 🙂 It’s a cool programme because if you buy via these recommendations, then a small percentage goes to the indie bookshop of your choice to help support them.
I was on an SF Signal mind meld about things I’ve learned since being a debut author, along with a lot of other great folks.
This past weekend I was down in London for the launch of my friend Kim Curran’s awesome new book, Glaze! It was at a cool cafe/pub by Waterloo station called Topolski, and it was a great turn out. Kim has been hard at work lately on a blog tour and launching it. Her publication story for this book is interesting – she self-published it, yet ended up partnering with the small press, Jurassic, to provide a (gorgeous) limited edition hard copy.
PETRI QUINN is counting down the days till she turns 16 and can get on GLAZE – the ultimate social network that is bringing the whole world together into one global family. But when a peaceful government protest turns into a full-blown riot with Petri shouldering the blame, she’s handed a ban. Her life is over before it’s even started.
Desperate to be a part of the hooked-up society, Petri finds an underground hacker group and gets a black market chip fitted. But this chip has a problem: it has no filter and no off switch. Petri can see everything happening on GLAZE, all the time. Including things she was never meant to see.
As her life is plunged into danger, Petri is faced with a choice. Join GLAZE… or destroy it.
I blurbed it!
‘In Glaze, Petri is a strong heroine, desperate to be part of the hooked-up society, only to discover that it’s not the paradise promised – quite the opposite, in fact. Glaze is reminiscent of authors like Scott Westerfeld, yet Curran has a voice all her own, and she’s one of the strongest YA writers in science fiction today.’ – Laura Lam, author of Pantomime & Shadowplay
The Shadowplay Blog Tour begins today, December 20, and runs until around January 12th. Last year I had 39 stops, which was a bit overwhelming, so this year I’m down to 23. Below are the places I will be appearing, and I’ll come back and edit as the posts go live.
Lisa @ Over the Effing Rainbow: “You know those times when you read a book that leaves you wishing so sincerely that you’d been able to read it when you were a kid, or in your teens? That feeling might be a little bittersweet, but let’s focus on the sweet, because honestly – I wish I’d had this (and Pantomime) to read fifteen years ago.”
Leo @ Jet Black Ink: “In short: Lam is a genius, she writes beautifully and everything about this book was a complete and absolute pleasure. If you loved the circus, you’ll fall in love with the complex and fascinating world behind the stage of Shadowplay and the Kymri theatre Micah now calls home.”
Ellie @ Curiosity Killed the Bookworm: “Parts of Shadowplay reminded me of The Prestige, with old style illusionists gripped in an ancient grudge. I loved the atmosphere of the theatre and the images conjured up by their performances.”
Lyndsey @ Page After Page: “Not only do we have a dual between Maske and his rival magician but the new characters shed light into the world that Lam has created. Lam also tackles issues such as sexuality, politics and discrimination and they are all written about wonderfully. The plot is incredibly unique and one that had me hooked. I couldn’t stop reading this book and now that I’ve finished it, I want even more.”
Richa @ City of Books: “This series is a must-read for all fantasy lovers. I literally couldn’t put this one down! Shadowplay is captivating and enticing, with the most complex characters you’ll ever come across. I loved every bit of this, and I’m now impatiently waiting for the next installment.”
Nina @ Death Books & Tea: “Shadowplay, plotwise, is very different to Pantomime. We learn a few things about Micah that you really don’t expect.”
Sam @ River & Sam: “Lam once again gives readers a wonderfully woven, extensively smart novel that handles topics of sexuality, discrimination and transition with such ease. It’s so easy to fall in love with her characters and follow their lives [. . .] I loved Shadowplay as much as I loved Pantomime, if not more, and I look forward to seeing where Micah’s adventure lead him.”
Leah @ Uncorked Thoughts: “I really enjoyed Laura’s first book but this one blasted it straight out of the water. It’s in this book that I fully fell in love with Micah and Drystan, Cyan and Maske. I feel like I’ve left some best friends behind in the pages of Shadowplay.”
Pantomime has been nominated for the American Library Association YALSA 2014 Popular Paperbacks list in the Books with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer-questioning, Intersex, Asexual individuals, and their Allies Category! Very cool and honoured to be included.
A few months ago, Pantomime was reviewed by the American Library Association’s Booklist online, which I missed. A nice review: “At around page 90 in Lam’s impressive debut fantasy novel, there’s a reveal so stunning that it makes it difficult to discuss without spoilers. Still, difficult hardly means impossible, especially as Lam’s memorable characters and rich world building stand tall in their own rights. Using a flashback structure to show both why noble-born Iphigenia Laurus runs away and joins the circus and how she changes her identity to become trapeze-artist Micah Grey, Pantomime does feature standard YA elements such as parental estrangement and problematic romance—yet marvelously transfigures them.”
And lastly, Pantomime had another lovely review on the site Fantasy Faction: “Micah is one of the most sympathetic, well-realised and bravest characters I’ve read about in a long time. . . Well-written and intelligent fantasy with characters I loved and a wonderful protagonist, in a fascinating world. I really enjoyed Pantomime and I can’t wait to re-enter Ellada and continue to unravel its secrets.”
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.
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.
InThe 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.