Today I am interviewing Laura Lam, author of the new sci-fi thriller, Shattered Minds.
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DJ: Hey Laura! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Laura Lam: Thanks for having me! I’m a former Californian who now lives in Scotland. I write primarily SFF, and my other books include False Hearts and the Micah Grey trilogy: Pantomime, Shadowplay, and Masquerade. I also teach part-time on the Creative Writing MA at Napier university in Edinburgh. My life is reading and writing, pretty much, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
DJ: What is Shattered Minds about?
Laura: When I do my elevator pitch I tend to say: “Female Dexter with a drug problem meets Minority Report. It’s about addiction, identity, and the darkness within.”
DJ: What were some of your influences for Shattered Minds?
Laura: Serial killers in general, and perhaps even vampire literature, despite the fact there are no vampires in this book. I read loads growing up and was always interested by that resistance a character shows against that desire to kill. I was also influenced by cyberpunk, government and corporate leaks, hacking, and Orphan Black.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them? (aka What makes them compelling?)
Laura: Carina has become deliberately addicted to dream drugs so she’s only killing people in her imagination instead of in real life. In these dreamscapes she crafts criminals only to kill them slowly, deliberately, in all the ways she likes best. I actually don’t care if people sympathize with Carina. She is, in many ways, unlikeable. But I do want readers to empathize with her, to put themselves in her shoes, even though that can be very uncomfortable. The villain, Roz, gets some screen time, and she’s sort of a cross between Rachel from Orphan Black and Dr. Frankenstein. She is very twisted. Dax, meanwhile, is the moral breath of fresh air. He’s one of the hackers who has a strong moral compass and knows to do the right thing. If Roz and Carina are super Slytherin, he’s more Hufflepuff.
DJ: What is the world and setting of Shattered Minds like?
Laura: Shattered Minds is set in Pacifica, which is the West Coast (California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii) of the formerly United States. It’s set roughly 100 years in the future, and in many ways it’s a technological utopia. Scratch the surface, and it’s just as ugly as any dystopia. Shattered Minds is set primarily in Los Angeles, whereas False Hearts, the other book set in that world which came out last year, is set in San Francisco.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Shattered Minds?
Laura: To be honest, editing it. The first draft was incredibly difficult, as it was so outside of my usual comfort zone. I could tell that the bones of the plot were in place, but it hadn’t quite come to life. When my editor helped me crystallize Roz and Carina’s motivations, everything came into focus and it basically became a Frankenstein retelling. That’s when I fell in love with the book.
DJ: Did you have a goal when you began writing Shattered Minds? Is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Laura: When I teach on the masters, we make every student think about their purpose, both as a writer and for each piece of work they create. Is there a what if question that sparked the initial idea?
What if a serial killer had been created rather than born, and what if she struggled against those urges? What if she was slowly destroying herself in dream drugs to protect others from that violence?
Then we have them think about the sorts of themes that will show up in that work:
Shattered Minds features identity, justice, resisting the darkness within, medical ethics, our relationship with technology, and the personal choice to change our bodies and our minds.
We also ask the writer to think about what they actually want the reader to be doing—you want the reader to be active rather than passively receiving the information:
I want the reader to act as a detective, piecing together the narrative from Carina, Dax and Roz’s points of view, and to also empathize with unlikeable female characters.
And lastly, how it can fit into the genre:
This book blends psychological thriller with the slick near-future aesthetic of cyberpunk.
And voila! My statement of purpose.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Shattered Minds that you can share with us?
DJ: Now that Shattered Minds is released, what is next for you?
Laura: Many things! I’m currently working on another near-future thriller, a cowritten far-future feminist space opera, and a lesbian time travel fantasy. No idea what will happen with any of them yet, though, but I’ll keep writing away and cross my fingers they all find homes.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Shattered Minds that we haven’t talked about yet?
Laura: There’s cool floating mansions that celebrities live in over Hollywood. Also floating skyscrapers. And hover cars. Evidently I like things that float?
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Laura: Thanks for sending them though!
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*** Sins of Empire is published by Tor Books and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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She can uncover the truth, if she defeats her demons
Ex-neuroscientist Carina struggles with a drug problem, her conscience, and urges to kill. She satisfies her cravings in dreams, fuelled by the addictive drug ‘Zeal’. Now she’s heading for self-destruction – until she has a vision of a dead girl.
Sudice Inc. damaged Carina when she worked on their sinister brain-mapping project, causing her violent compulsions. And this girl was a similar experiment. When Carina realizes the vision was planted by her old colleague Mark, desperate for help to expose the company, she knows he’s probably dead. Her only hope is to unmask her nemesis – or she’s next.
To unlock the secrets Mark hid in her mind, she’ll need a group of specialist hackers. Dax is one of them, a doctor who can help Carina fight her addictions. If she holds on to her humanity, they might even have a future together. But first she must destroy her adversary – before it changes us and our society, forever.
About the Author:
Originally from sunny California, Laura Lam now lives in cloudy Scotland. Lam is the author of BBC Radio 2 Book Club section False Hearts, the companion novel Shattered Minds, as well as the award-winning Micah Grey series Pantomime, Shadowplay, and Masquerade. Her short fiction and essays have also appeared in anthologies such as Nasty Women, Solaris Rising 3, Cranky Ladies of History, and more. She lectures part-time at Napier University in Edinburgh on the Creative Writing MA.