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Laura Lam

Fiction and Excerpts [4]

Fiction and Excerpts [4]

Five Books about Futuristic California

I grew up in the East Bay area, just over the Bay Bridge from San Francisco. I moved a lot, so I lived in Oakland, Fremont (three houses in the same neighborhood! Once we moved 12 doors down the street), Union City, Hayward, and Castro Valley. Now I live half a world away in Edinburgh, Scotland. Writing the Pacifica books (False Hearts & Shattered Minds) has been a way to go back home, even if it’s through the lens of a twisted, near-future vision of that state.

The last two trips home, I’ve been exploring Los Angeles looking for things to feed into my fiction, and it’s been interesting to see California in a new way. I once told my mom I wanted to go to the Xanadu Gallery in San Francisco so I could imagine it riddled with bullets for a scene in False Hearts. I walked down downtown Los Angeles, imagining floating skyscrapers and mansions overhead. I picked apart California’s obsessions: with celebrity, with perfection, with presenting itself as a hippie ecotopia. In this future, it’s still the centre of loads of technological innovation, just as Silicon Valley is now. I created a walled off cult set in the redwoods of Muir Woods. I took so many places of my childhood and placed them in creepy thrillers, just to see what would happen. At first glance, California looks like a utopia, but if you scratch the surface, it’s just as grim as some of the cyberpunk I grew up reading.

Here’s a mix of books set in the Golden State that possibly fed into my Pacifica books, plus some I really want to read.

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Series: Five Books About…

Conjoined Twins: The Real-Life Inspiration Behind False Hearts

Content note: this article goes into detail about surgical separation of twins and medical treatment without consent.

False Hearts stars formerly-conjoined twins raised in a cult, and there’s also futuristic San Francisco, brain hacking, dream drugs, a mob, and a fair amount of violence. Though I researched many topics for the book, I spent the most time learning all I could about conjoined twins to ensure I depicted my twins respectfully and without falling into harmful tropes. The initial book idea was sparked by reading an article on io9 about Daisy and Violet Hilton, who were 1920s vaudeville stars. They were so famous that they were essentially the Olsen twins of their day. In the course of my research, I learned of other historical twins, and also their own opinions and beliefs about being conjoined, which differs to the mainstream narrative that all twins desire separation above all else and it is their ultimate goal.

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False Hearts

Twin sisters Taema and Tila, conjoined until the age of sixteen, are in their mid-twenties when they’re drawn into a deadly battle for control of a drug that facilitates a disturbing form of lucid dreaming.

One night Tila stumbles home, terrified and covered in blood. She’s arrested for murder, the first homicide by a civilian in decades. The San Francisco police suspect involvement with Verve, an illicit narcotic that allows violent minds to enact their darkest desires in a terrifying dreamscape, and they offer her twin Taema a chilling deal. If Taema assumes Tila’s identity and obtains the information needed to take down the city’s drug syndicate, the police may let her sister live. But Taema’s investigation stirs up ghosts from the twins’ past.

Raised in the closed cult of Mana’s Hearth and denied access to modern technology, Taema and Tila dared to dream of a life beyond the walls of the compound. When the heart they shared began to fail, the twins escaped to San Francisco, where they were surgically separated and given new artificial hearts. From then on they pursued lives beyond anything they could have previously imagined.

But that freedom comes with a price; once unable to keep secrets from each other, Taema and Tila learn the true cost of lies.

Laura Lam’s adult sci-fi debut False Hearts is available June 14th from Tor Books and June 16th from Tor UK. Read an excerpt below, and check out “Through the Eyes of a Bluebird,” a companion story set in the mysterious commune of Mana’s Hearth.

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Shadowplay (Excerpt)

Check out Laura Lam’s Shadowplay, the sequel to Pantomime, available now from Strange Chemistry!

The circus lies behind Micah Grey in dust and ashes.

He and the white clown, Drystan, take refuge with the once-great magician, Jasper Maske. When Maske agrees to teach them his trade, his embittered rival challenges them to a duel which could decide all of their fates.

People also hunt both Micah and the person he was before the circus–the runaway daughter of a noble family. And Micah discovers there is magic and power in the world, far beyond the card tricks and illusions he’s perfecting…

[Read an Excerpt]

Pantomime (Excerpt) and Cover Reveal

We have a special two chapter excerpt and a gorgeous cover reveal for Pantomime by Laura Lam, out on February 5, 2013 from Strange Chemistry!

Click the cover to enlarge.

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 Chimaera 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.

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