This week, I am delighted to introduce to the ball Lara Elena Donnelly, my agent-sibling! Lara and I are both represented by the magnificent Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary, so I’ve had the privilege of knowing Lara since before the rest of the world got to enjoy this dazzling debut! Apart from being a fantastic, award-nominated writer, Lara is a lovely person and well-worth the following on Twitter. 😉
The all-singing, all-dancing Lara Elena Donnelly is the author of Nebula-nominated, vintage-glam spy thriller Amberlough and its upcoming sequels, Armistice and Amnesty. Lara’s short fiction and poetry can be found in Nightmare, Strange Horizons, Uncanny, and other venues. A veteran of small-town Ohio and the Derby City, Lara now resides on Sugar Hill, way up in Harlem.
In Amberlough, three denizens of a doomed and decadent city cut deals to save themselves and each other from an ascendant fascist party intent on a violent coup. In the second book of the trilogy, Armistice (May 2018), the ramifications of that coup are playing out on a global stage: shifting alliances among diplomats, arms dealers, and spies hover on the brink of treason and outright civil war.
The Deb Interview
Talk about one book that made an impact on you.
When people ask me what my favorite book is, I tell them New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear. That book taught me more about subtle characterization than anything else I had ever read. It showed me narrative tension doesn’t need to come from plot. I marveled at its elegant worldbuilding. It’s just a book that showed me what writing can do, and more specifically: what queer historical fantasy can do.
Where do you love to be?
The kitchen. So much of what I do—my day job and my writing—involves typing, words, and cerebral tasks. I love to put on some music, put on an apron, and start breaking eggs. Both my parents are cooks—my dad was in the restaurant industry when I was little, and my mom has almost as many cookbooks as she does books of the literary type—so I was raised at the stove. Or stripping kale. Or chopping vegetables.
If you were a drink (preferably alcoholic), what would you be and why?
I picked this question to answer because it seemed glamorous and on-brand but it turns out it’s REALLY HARD to pick JUST ONE. After extensive consultation with friends, exhaustive soul-searching, I’ve come down on an Aviation.
It’s a classic, and very elegant, and a gin drink, with all the glorious, glamorous cultural connotations of gin. But it’s also a little…weird. The crème de violette makes it floral, almost perfumed. For heaven’s sake, it’s purple. Some people think it’s overwrought, overhyped, overdone. But I’d rather be bizarre, absurd, and over-the-top any day of the week.
What time of day do you love best?
Cocktail hour! Why do you think I to answer that question about being a drink? But seriously. I hit a slump every day around two or three p.m. and only find my stride again around five. Which is, incidentally, about the time I like to get into the kitchen to start prepping for dinner. And in my opinion, no mise en place is complete if it doesn’t include something for the chef to sip on.
Tell us a secret about the main character in your novel — something that’s not even in your book.
So, Amberlough is a jazzy, sexy, vintage-style novel, which lends all the characters an air of sophistication. But the truth is, if Cyril lived in this modern world of ours, he would be the most basic of bros. As a friend of mine said: college-age Cyril would be in a business school frat and wear a rose gold Apple watch. I mean, come on: the man likes boring whiskey and top 40 music, and he’s probably read five books in his entire life, most likely to pass a class. If he were working in New York City it would be in FiDi, managing hedge funds. He’d wear a blue suit and brown shoes and take really tacky photos for his Grindr profile. And, god help me, he would vape. If you’ve read The Raven Cycle, he is essentially Gansey with worse taste in friends.
Luckily, he lives in Amberlough, where he was recruited out of university to be a spy, and smokes unfiltered cigarettes in speakeasies that don’t yet have to post a letter grade. And that’s all much more my cup of tea.
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— The Debutante Ball (@DebutanteBall) March 3, 2018