I recently finished Shadowplay, by Laura Lam. It’s the sequel to the fabulous Pantomime, and picks up where that book leaves off. Micah Grey is still trying to leave his past and his family behind him, but now the law is after him too. Having left the circus behind, he and the clown, Drystan, take refuge in an old friend of Drystan’s, a disgraced former magician named Jasper Maske. Where the circus was the backdrop for Pantomime, stage magic is the same for Shadowplay. The book is filled with fantastic magic tricks and spilled stage secrets as Micah and Drystan learn the art of magic in order to help Maske regain his former glory.

But Micah’s past is still trying to reclaim him, and he’s facing even greater questions about who he is. An extinct civilisation is reaching across history to seek his unusual talents, and while he can hide in plain sight from his own past, he can’t seem to escape someone else’s…

This book dances along at a great pace, twisting and turning all the way. There’s arch rivalry and dark pasts, secret technology and forgotten history. There’s danger. There’s romance. There’s fabulous magical entertainment. It’s a book filled with colourful intrigue and complex characters. Yet at its heart, Micah Grey’s story is that of a teenager trying to figure out his place in the world. I think that’s what makes him so relatable.

I really enjoyed Pantomime. I loved Shadowplay even more. Laura Lam ramps up the pressure and holds nothing back this time. She answers questions, and asks a whole bunch more in their wake. I’m totally hooked on these characters now, and eagerly anticipating wherever she takes them next.

Find it here: Amazon

Showered with Inspiration

My muse lives in the shower.

I’ve been aware of it for a long time now, but I’ve only recently realised just how true that is. I’ve often been struck by ideas and solutions to story problems whilst standing amongst the steam, but I’ve now discovered that I can deliberately seek such solutions mid-shampoo. And I find them. Pretty much without fail.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been stuck on a plot point or searching for the story behind the concept only to be struck by inspiration as the hot water courses over my skin. They can be issues I’ve been juggling for ages, finding no joy, and then I’m lathering up and – bam – I’ve got it. What is it about showering that unleashes the ideas? Perhaps I’m washing away all the extraneous thoughts and distractions so the solutions can shine through. Maybe it’s something to do with the almost hypnotic lull of shampooing and scrubbing, my brain on autopilot as I perform the automatic ritual of getting clean. It’s almost like it frees up my mind to concentrate on outside issues. I guess it’s one of the few times I don’t have to focus on anything else. No distractions. Nothing to break my chain of thought. Just the flow of the water and the rhythms of washing.

Some people sing in the shower. I ponder… often without realising it, occasionally on purpose. And I figure out where my stories are going. How they should end. Where the conflict lies. What the heck to do about that niggling plot problem. I emerge from the steam physically cleansed and mentally revitalised, my works-in-progress several steps closer to cohesion.

If nothing else, I guess I’ll never be one of those writers who locks herself away for days at a time and then emerges, dishevelled but triumphant, with a fresh story hot off the keyboard. My hair might not need a wash, but if I’m snarled up in story brambles, I’ll be jumping in the shower to discuss things with my ever-fragrant muse.

Does your muse hang out somewhere specific? Or do you just get hit with inspiration at entirely random intervals?