Thanks to GIRLS LOVE TO READ for publishing my guest post on destiny!
Today we are super pleased to welcome Ellie Campbell to the site! The lovely Lorraine, one half of the duo, has written us a fantastic guest post on the five simple twists of fate!
In To Catch a Creeper, Cathy has some real ups and downs where her path seems to be merrily going in one direction only to be sideswiped and sent off on a completely different track. It occurred to me we all have some of those events that look like destiny when we realize how they’ve shaped our lives. Here are a few of mine.
1. Fed up with my boring dead-end job as a clerk in a swimming pool company, I flipped open the evening paper and saw an ad for a literary agent needing a secretary. I’d always been a total bookworm but it had never occurred to me that such things as literary agents and book publishers existed or to wonder how those pages got into my hand. I went for the interview the next day and knew this was what I wanted more than anything else in the world. The agent (now novelist) Carol Smith called me that evening and told me I had the job. It was the event that changed my life, led to me becoming a writer and so much else.
2. Fast forward about ten years. I was 4 days into my planned adventure of travelling solo in South America for a year, newly arrived in the small town of Otavalo, Ecuador. Feeling lonely (already) I visualised asking the universe to meet a kindred spirit. Next morning I walked into a café for breakfast and a nice-looking Frenchman started to talk to me. Others joined in the conversation and frustrated by the language barrier, he left. After a full day’s hike I returned to my hotel to be told my ‘amigo’ was looking for me. I found the same French guy coming down the stairs. As luck would have it, it was his birthday and he’d tracked me down to have dinner with him. He’d been searching the many backpacker and tourist hotels for a ‘Dutch girl’ because he’d thought I’d said I was from Holland instead of England. Once my trip ended, I lived with him in France for three exciting, wonderful and tempestuous years. After that I never could see returning to my old life in London and on our break-up I took up my backpack again.
3. Shortly after leaving France I was working on a boat in a marina in Guatemala, cleaning, sanding and varnishing when my employer, a nice American I’d met on a chicken bus, told me his friend needed a cook for a weekend charter. Terrified about airing my limited culinary skills and possibly poisoning paying guests I insisted I couldn’t cook. The whole marina insisted I could. Remembering my vow to always say yes to opportunity, I was reluctantly persuaded and for the entire weekend, the captain cooked the meals for me and I served them to his wealthy Guatemalan clients. However, Captain W. and I had such a laugh together that he offered me the permanent position of cook and crew of his 47’ yacht, breaking the bad news to the person he’d hired who arrived the next week and paying her for the inconvenience of finding her job gone. The joke around the marina was that Captain W. had paid $100 to get rid of a girl who could cook in favor of one who couldn’t. I fooled them by managing to produce edible meals, pour unlimited amounts of alcohol and handle the dinghy for snorkeling. It was two years of paradise and partying. But that decision led to…
4. One year later, on that same boat, four male clients arrived from Colorado for a sailing trip around Honduras. Three I knew from their boys trip the year before but the fourth was a stranger, a single guy from Boulder. Not my type at all – shorter than me, he was unusually quiet (suffering from an ear infection), wearing nerdy-looking glasses, missing a tooth (he’d taken out his temporary implant), sporting his sneakers, socks and favourite ragged and hole-y old swimshorts. (OK, I was wearing my favorite ragged and hole-y old sweatshirt, not to mention a bra that had most definitely seen better days, but at least I knew not to wear shoes on a boat.) Between bouts of seasickness (mostly his) we chatted about our love lives and he turned out to be excellent at kitchen prep because he couldn’t stand how long it took me to produce a meal. His three pals invited me to Boulder for a river rafting trip, where Gary and I ended up sharing an inflatable kayak and he offered me his spare guest room as a place to stay – just for a week. And, yes, reader, I married him.
5. I was settled in Boulder when sister Pam and I came up with the idea of writing together despite – or maybe thanks to – the ocean separating us. We set out to find an agent for our first Ellie Campbell novel and a young agent, Caroline Hardman, wrote to us and said she wanted to take us on. She admitted that we would be her first ever clients and we confessed that Ellie Campbell was not one but two people. Caroline promptly got us a two-book contract with a brand-new editor, Emma Rose, making us the first authors that Emma acquired for Arrow Books and How To Survive Your Sisters her first production. It was a whole lot of firsts for all of us… most of all the first time Pam and I realised we might actually accomplish our dream of being novelists.
Yes, when it comes to luck and opportunity I’ve definitely had more than my fair share – and certainly more than Cathy although things always seem to work out for her in the end. There’s a few other events that spring to mind but I think I’ll save them for another day…