Guest post: Laura Lam on her debut novel, Pantomime

It’s nice to spread some good news. Today, Strange Chemistry announced two new signings: Laura Lam and Julianna Scott, both for two books, the first of which are due early 2013.

I met Laura at FantasyCon 2011 in Brighton, and after hanging out she let me read her first novel, Pantomime, which was at the time under submission to Angry Robot. I loved it, and I’m pleased to see it’s now been picked up.

I’ve invited her here to talk about her road to publication. Take it away, Laura!

Hello, all!

I’m Laura Lam, and I sold my first book, Pantomime. Adam kindly invited me to steal his blog for a bit and write a bit about my book, how it came to be, and how I found a home for it.

Pantomime ’s official blurb:

R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass – remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone – are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimeras is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.

Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star.

But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.

Of course, that’s only a teaser, and there’s a bit of a twist for readers to discover. There’s more to these characters than first meets the eye.

I ended up writing this book in a roundabout way. I originally came up with the idea for the character and the world when chatting on the phone to my then-boyfriend, now-husband. Initially, I started writing a novel about Micah Grey as an adult, but I struggled. I was pretty young, and I was having trouble nailing an “adult” voice when I didn’t even consider myself an adult yet. So I decided to step away from it and write a “short story” about my character’s backstory as a teenager. I absolutely clicked with young Gene and Micah and found the voices right away, and it spiralled into a book of its own. I read a lot of YA and love it, so it made sense to concentrate my efforts there. It’s such an exciting time to be writing YA—people are really pushing boundaries and exploring diversity, and my books fits right in (I hope!).

Just after I finished, I subbed Pantomime to Angry Robot Books’ Open Door Month on March 30, 2011. I really expected just a form rejection—it was still pretty rough, but I was proud of myself for getting back to submitting something. I sort of forgot about it, and then when I was on a road trip along the East Coast of the USA in June, I got an email saying they had liked what they had read, and could I please send the whole manuscript? It was signed by “Amanda for Angry Robot.”

I freaked out, gave it all a last read-through while driving from DC to Philadelphia to try and catch any other typos, and sent it off again, expecting a rejection.

One month later, I found out I was going to editorial. Cue more freaking out.

At the end of November, I got a revision request, from Amanda, who was now a part of Angry Robot as the editor of their new YA imprint, Strange Chemistry. I did a substantial edit, which I finished on the 29th of February. I started querying agents that day, and everything happened very quickly. Within three weeks, I was on the other side with a book deal and an agent. Today, I’ve had the deal announced and I’ll be going to Eastercon as an author with a book coming out next year.

After all that waiting, I’m still in shock, trying to come to terms with the fact that I made it and this is no longer a hobby, but a part-time job. And, oh crap, I have to write another book. In half the time. But, still, it’s a dream come true, and I’m unbearably excited.

Pantomime will be released April, 2013 by Strange Chemistry Books, an imprint of Angry Robot, with a sequel to follow at the end of the same year. I hope you’ll take a look and step into the world of Ellada and R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic.

Laura’s website and blog are here, and you can find her on Twitter as @lr_lam.