Teens book of the month: Pantomime

Author: Laura Lam | Age category: 12-16

Review

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.

Competition

We have 5 copies of Pantomime to be won! To be in with a chance of winning one, just answer this question:

What is the sequel to Pantomime called?

Add your answer as a comment to this page. Competition closes on Friday 30 May. Entrants outside the UK must cover postage.

 

Q&A with the author, Laura Lam

Did you enjoy the research that you did for this book?

I definitely did. I researched various topics for Pantomime and its sequel - the circus (specifically in Victorian society), Victorian debutante balls, gender identity and intersex topics, magicians and illusionists, and all sorts of smaller topics I wouldn't have expected to, such as dragonflies, salamanders, sailing ships, and more. One of the best parts of writing for me is falling down the rabbit hole of research, bouncing from subject to subject and learning tidbits of information I can use for my story and my world. Writing lets me be the eternal student!

I loved learning about the circus and how it was its own little world, with its own rules and culture and way of seeing the world. It was a harsh and demanding life, but many ended up being very close. Before writing this series, I did not know that much about intersex people, but now I know a lot and am very passionate about intersex rights and raising awareness. We grow up thinking that people are either male or female, but there are so many shades in between.

I created a Works Consulted page on my website with a list of the resources I used. The page also has links to several intersex organizations if you’d like to know more.

Why did you start writing this book?

I first came up with the idea for Micah Grey when I was at university. Growing up, I loved reading books where girls dressed up as boys to prove they could do anything. I had the idea to write a story like that, but where dressing as a boy wasn't a disguise. I wanted to write a story set in a magical circus that grappled with issues of identity and acceptance.

The world is the result of a lot of my pet interests. It’s based on the Victorian era Scotland, but with remnants of advanced technology or magic from a long-vanished civilisation scattered throughout the world. The people use this Vestige, but they don’t understand it. I like the quote by Arthur C. Clarke that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” and I definitely experimented with that in the world of Ellada.

What else have you written?

Shadowplay, the sequel to Pantomime, came out in January 2014. Instead of being set in the circus ring, it’s on the magician’s stage, with mysterious illusions in an abandoned theatre. It has adventure, mystery, a man with a clockwork hand, a magician duel, and a dash of romance. I’ll also be self-releasing some short stories and novellas set in Ellada, a series called Vestigial Tales. The first one, “The Snake Charm,” will be released soon. And, as usual, I have a couple of other projects in progress as well!

Read up on our previous Children's and Teens Books of the Month here