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All About the Books Meme – with Laura Lam

Once more we turn the spotlight on one of our wonderful authors and grill them about the books they adore! This time it is the turn of Laura Lam, the wonderful author of Pantomime, which we can’t wait to release in February 2013.

1) One Book That Changed My Life

I read this book when I was 15 and it totally changed the way I thought of books. It has a fantastic first line–“He was one hundred and seventy days dying and not yet dead.” I loved the far-future neo-Victorian feel of this Count of Monte Cristo retelling and the integration of the Tiger! Tiger! poem by William Blake. It’s a mishmash of science fiction, fantasy, and literary fiction. The main character is unsympathetic and unreliable yet goes through a complete transformation. Near the end, a character is hit on the head and suffers synaesthesia (which I found so cool I wrote a sestina about synaesthesia and won $100 in a contest at university), and Bester had fun mixing the senses with wonderful phrases like “Indigo undulated with sickening speed like a slithering snake,” which I just love. This was definitely one of the books that turned me from a reader to a reader who wanted to write.

2) One Book I’ve HAD to Read More Than Once

This was another life-changing book, but also the book I’ve probably read the most number of times. I am really fond of the character Fitz and all the trouble he gets into. When I’m ill or really stressed, I come back to the Farseer trilogy again and again. I love the world-building, the prose, the magic and political systems, and how all of the characters find a way to get under your skin.

3) One Book I’d Want on a Desert Island

A Kindle would be nice, but the power source and internet connection might be a problem. Also: sand.

Can I cheat and choose a fictional book? The Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer from Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age would prove really useful to getting me off the desert island alive. I think it also has its own power source and is probably impervious to sand.

4) One Book That Made Me Laugh

I’m reading this book now and it’s hysterical. I love Mary Roach’s books—she’s an insatiably curious woman. She fixates on somewhat odd subjects—sex (Bonk), human corpses (Stiff), life in space (Packing for Mars)—and in Spook she investigates the human soul and the afterlife. She researches reincarnation in India, how much the soul might weigh, the ectoplasm specimen at Cambridge, et cetera. She’s witty and her personality peppers her prose. She loves adding footnotes of all the strange things she finds as she’s researching, from the decidedly odd to the humorous names that made her giggle.

5) One Book That Made me Cry

I challenge anyone to read this book and not cry. Seriously, Patrick Ness, you broke my heart. It’s the story of a young boy whose mother is sick with cancer, and at night, a monster hidden in his yew tree calls on him. It’s so gorgeously written and so powerful and moving. When I closed the book after reading the book, I was sobbing my heart out. Damn you/thank you, Patrick Ness.

6) One Book I Wish I’d Written

It’s more that I wish I had gotten to this premise first rather than writing this particular book. My writing style is nothing like Riggs, but I love the combination of creepy old photos, a grandfather with a mysterious past, and a hidden world tucked into a corner of Wales. I had some reservations about the book, but overall I thought the premise and atmosphere was so creepily fantastic. Plus, it’s sold really well and he’s gotten a movie deal—that’s nothing to sniff at, either!

7) One Book I’m Currently Reading

I’ve been meandering my way through the Gemma Doyle trilogy for the past few months. I keep wanting to rush but I’m savouring it. Again, I love the atmosphere and I’m a sucker for boarding school narratives, especially ones set in the Victorian era. Bray’s prose is lush and lovely, and she captures the friend-enemy relationships girls can have with each other very well. Going to be reading this book for a while yet though—it’s gigantic!

8) One Book I’m Intending to Read

This has been on my list for a few weeks, and slowly but surely I’m inching my way toward it. I’m interested in Victorian medicine, and so I’m really looking forward to this YA novel of a young boy from the slums of Edinburgh stumbling on the even darker underbelly of the city—Burke and Hare, the bodysnatchers, and their relationship to John Knox. I have a feeling it’ll be a really good read.

Thanks Laura!

How’s that? Any books here which catch your eye and make you want to read?

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