Laura Gilliam

About Me

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Laura Gilliam

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What I Write

Writing Sample



Chapter One

The oar was floating out there, taunting him. For the sake of doing something, Val stirred the murky water with their one remaining oar, taking the rowboat nowhere. It was nearly morning now and the gray of the placid ocean reflected the dim gray of dawn. Sameness melted into sameness. Val’s exhausted eyes could not make out which grayish blob of flotsam was the tool that might get them back to their home shore in Haiti. Or, where shore was. Or, even what was sea and what was sky.

Jacques moaned. Val wrapped their one bit of canvas more tightly around his brother. At least Jacques had lost that ghostly stillness. After barely moving or breathing through the scorching afternoon and the chilly night, Jacques twitched and murmured like a living person again. Val blew out a long breath, letting a sliver of hope lessen the weight of his dread. Maybe soon, his brother would wake up and be well. If Jacques were himself again, he’d spend a few seconds sizing up the sun and then skull the boat to their own home bay one-oared. Laughing, teasing Val for his worry.

“Jacques,” Val whispered, the surrounding emptiness stealing the strength from his voice. He shook his brother’s meaty shoulder. “Wake up. Wake up and scold me for never learning to row properly.”

Jacques turned, showing the half of his face where the log had slammed and scraped against his head the morning before. A surge of nauseous guilt clutched Val’s stomach at the sight of Jacques’ mashed nose. The raw skin all down his cheek and neck was still puffy and seeping blood. His eye was purple and swollen shut. A thin crust had formed between the lashes. It was a small blessing, but at least there were no flies this far out at sea.

His fault, this was all his fault. Val hadn’t caused the landslide that sent trees and mud hurtling off the cliffs. But Val had rowed them far away from the familiar coastline near their village. Val had gotten lost so that Jacques had been the one rowing with his back to the cliffs. So that the huge wave had flung the log at Jacques head. It was Val’s scheming that had made Manman send them out on the water in the first place. If Val hadn’t been stealing her precious vetiver oil, those evil-looking men would not have come to their village looking for more.

“Sorry, Jacques, never mind,” Val rasped around the sudden tightness in his throat. Careful not to rock the boat, he retrieved the water bottle from his knapsack. Drop by drop, he poured a capful of water between Jacques’ cracked lips. He took none for himself, though his throat felt as dry as sand. Only a couple of centimeters of liquid remained in the bottle. “You keep resting. I’ll find the way back home.”

What I Write

I write science fiction based on big ideas about the potentials of the human species on a fragile planet earth. I am currently working on a trilogy (duology? quartet?) about a near future bio-engineering accident that changes humanity’s relationship to sustainable food and energy.  I’ve completed the first in the series and plan to begin drafting the second in the fall. Meanwhile, for the last four years, I’ve been working on a MG quartet exploring the changes and implications of the aforementioned accident through the adventures of four young protagonists growing up in four separate environments in the altered world – quarantine city, containment camp, desert and ocean. Two manuscripts are in final revisions, the third is fully drafted and the fourth draft is my project for this Write-a-thon


“These Are Not Your Grandpappy’s Warriors,” review of Kameron Hurley’s Meet Me In The Future in Cascadia Subduction Zone, vol. 10, no. 1

My Write-a-thon Goals

Writing Goals

Nanowrimo style, I will finish a full 50-60K draft of my MG climate/science fiction novel PHYTA, the fourth in my quartet of novels based on the world I began in my adult science fiction novel EUTAGION.

Fundraising Goals