Today I welcome back Laura Lam to A Fantastical Librarian. Her Pantomime was one of my favourite YA debuts this year. I thought it was a gorgeous book and found Laura’s protagonist Micah a brilliant character. With her second novel Shadowplay, the sequel to Pantomime, being published next week – I’ll be reviewing it a little later next month – I was glad to be able to ask Laura about her experiences in the last year and whether the reception of Pantomime and Micah’s unique nature was what she’d hoped for. Laura answers those questions below and then some. Take it away Laura!
The Post-Publication Roller Coaster
The past year has been a lot of ups and downs. It’s transitioning from the daydream of being an author to the reality. I wrote a little more about how strange that is on this blog post. Overall, it’s been a good year. I think the reaction to Pantomime has been positive. On the sales side of things, I don’t think it’s been a runaway success, but it also hasn’t done badly (at least – I don’t think so!). As of this post, Pantomime’s been shortlisted or longlisted/shortlisted for 5 awards/book lists, and that’s incredible! It’s a little funny though, because my day-to-day life is still overall the same. I go to work (I still work full-time). I go to the gym, see my friends, watch TV. But I get these little pockets of surrealism – meeting my favourite author and knowing she read (and liked!) my book. Receiving a wonderful note from a reader, or someone tweeting me a beautiful review.
Many people have connected with Micah and the other characters. Once, after I did a school visit, I received a message from one of the parents. When I first saw the subject line, though, I panicked. I was worried that it’d be a parent really angry that I’d written about an intersex & bisexual protagonist. But no, she’d written to say she’d borrowed it from her daughter and loved it.
That keeps happening. To date, I’ve not seen any really obviously homophobic reviews (though one or two definitely have it as an undertone). No one’s sent me hate mail, saying I’m peddling filth to children. As far as I know, no one’s challenged the book or tried to ban it, though I have seen one or two suggestions that librarians self-censored by not buying it because they thought students wouldn’t react well to the GLBT themes (to which I wanted to reply: what about your GLBT teens?). People have bought it who I worried would be upset by it, and they weren’t. I think perhaps 10 years ago, the reaction to Pantomime might have been different. I’m grateful that a lot of people are interested to read about Micah, rather than turned off or afraid of him. I think it definitely shows that times are changing and acceptance is on the rise.
Not everything has been a smooth ride – there have been bumps, and setbacks, and disappointments. But one thing I’m proud of is that I haven’t let them get me down. If I have a bit of bad news, I throw myself that much harder into whatever project I’m working on. I figure setbacks are not going to go away. The fear is always going to be there. All I can do is keep going and keep hoping.
I have a lot of hopes for the next year. I hope that Pantomime continues to make its way into the hands of readers. I hope that people like Pantomime enough to take a chance on Shadowplay and continue Micah’s journey. I know series can have a big drop off, and that’s scary. I hope some of my other WIPs find publishing homes.
Mostly, I know that, crazy as this ride is, I’m not getting off.
Bio: Laura Lam was raised near San Francisco, California, by two former Haight-Ashbury hippies. Both of them encouraged her to finger-paint to her heart’s desire, colour outside of the lines, and consider the library a second home. This led to an overabundance of daydreams.
She relocated to Scotland to be with her husband, whom she met on the internet when he insulted her taste in books. She almost blocked him but is glad she didn’t. At times she misses the sunshine.
Pantomime was released February 2013 through Strange Chemistry, the YA imprint of Angry Robot Books. The sequel, Shadowplay, will follow in January 2014.
You can find Laura online at the following places:
Pantomime page (including ordering links): http://staticsplit.wordpress.com/pantomime/
Shadowplay page (including ordering links): http://staticsplit.wordpress.com/micah-grey-2-shadowplay/