QYAS: Laura Lam talks bisexuality, genderfluid characters


shadowplay laura lamWith the Queer YA Scrabble running all weekend long, we’ve redevoted the site to talking about issues and writing relating to queer YA.

Today, Laura Lam is stopping by to talk about writing as a bisexual woman writing genderfluid characters! In Pantomime, the first in her Micah Gray series, the Circus of Magic is where Micah joins as an aerialist’s apprentice. But a secret in her blood could unlock secrets of the country where the Circus resides.

While the original books in her series were published by the now-defunct publishing imprint Strange Chemistry, the Micah Grey series has been picked up by Pan Macmillan! Pan Macmillan will re-release the original two books as ebooks this fall, with physical copies available next summer. Masquerade, the final and as-of-yet unreleased book in the series, is scheduled to release next summer.

Do you identify along the LGBTQ spectrum in real life? How does that affect your writing?

Yes, I am bi. It took me writing five books with bi protagonists before it really struck me. I married my first boyfriend, so I didn’t really question my sexuality until my mid-twenties. For me, it’s the natural default to have a character that is attracted to both genders. I also think being bi makes me think about other characters’ sexualities more. I don’t assume everyone is straight or cis in my books.

What was the hardest part of writing authentic LGBT fiction? Do you tackle intersectionality in your writing?

You have to do a LOT of research to avoid stuffing things up, and no matter how much you research, there’s still a good chance you’ll get something wrong. Intersectionality tends to come quite naturally to me. Micah is genderfluid, intersex, and bi, so that right there looks at physical sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Micah also started as a daughter of a noblewoman and then joined the circus as a pauper runaway, so I’ve investigated class. A lot of my work features intersectionality—my upcoming book False Hearts stars white/black/Polynesian bisexual twins who were formerly conjoined and raised in a cult. Whew.

What has your experience with your editors and publicists been like, in terms of writing LGBTQ fiction?

I’ve never really had a problem with it. No one has told me to “straighten” a character. The only issue I had was that Pantomime’s cover blurb glossed over than Micah was intersex, making it seem like he and Gene were two different people rather than one. It would have been nice if it was clearer that it starred an intersex protag.

What advice would you give to young, aspiring LGBTQ YA writers?

Keep on writing. The publishing has been very straight and very white for a long time, but I think times are changing and people are really wanting more diverse works to reflect the world we live in. Don’t be discouraged. Write a kickass book with all the LGBT characters you want, and work to make it so very good they can’t say no.

This weekend – including this interview – is part of the Queer YA Scrabble, to raise money and awareness for Stonewall. Stonewall is a charity committed to helping queer people (especially teens) navigate adversity and promoting education. The Queer YA Scrabble will run this entire weekend, from to the end of the day on Monday, June 8.

We here at YA Interrobang have partnered with the authors of Clan Hydra to bring you the most awesome prize box imaginable. Laura Lam donated a signed paperback copy of Shadowplay. Tess Sharpe donated a signed paperback copy of Far From You – with a specially written short story accompanying it! Robin Talley donated a signed paperback copy of Lies We Tell Ourselves, along with some swag. Astor Penn donated a signed paperback copy of All the Devils Here. You will also be entered to win a paperback copy of Christopher Hawthorne Moss’ Beloved Pilgrim, a paperback copy of Matthew J. Metzger’s Vivaldi in the Dark and Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You The Sun.

To enter the giveaway, you can fill out the form below. You’ll need to find and decode a special phrase in some of the Queer YA Scrabble posts back into its original word to enter, but we promise – it’s not hard. The giveaway is open to the United Kingdom, Ireland, United States of America, Canada, Mexico, and anywhere in continental Europe except Russia. Unfortunately, do to the prohibitive cost of shipping, the giveaway and auctions are not open to countries in Africa, South America, Asia or Australia. (Sorry, Aussies.)

The Queer YA Scrabble giveaway is over; thank you for participating!

EDIT: The post originally said that the series, upon their rerelease, was to be redubbed the Dark Circus series; this was incorrect.

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