Category Archives: Interviews

Bookaholic Confessions interviews Ellie Campbell

AI

 

It gives me great pleasure to welcome the fabulous Ellie Campbell (aka Lorraine and Pam) to Bookaholic Confessions today. Ellie Campbell is a new author to me but I am massively excited about reading Million Dollar Question, which sounds amazing. I had a great time chatting to the two ladies behind Ellie Campbell and learning just how they go about the writing process and where the idea of a pseudonym originated from…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHi Pam and Lorraine (aka Ellie Campbell!), a big warm welcome to Bookaholic Confessions! Thank you so much for participating in this interview. Would you like to start by introducing yourselves…?

Hi, I’m Lorraine, I’m the elder of the two sisters, and after years of wandering the world, footloose and free, I’ve somehow landed on a 10 acre ranch in beautiful Boulder, Colorado with my husband, horses, cats, dog, and chickens. I’m addicted to books and when not reading, writing or trail riding, I’m volunteer at my favourite horse rescue Zuma’s, working with abused horses or untouched mustangs, (two of whom I’ve ended up bringing home.)  Every day is an adventure and I feel incredibly lucky to be living my dream.

And I’m Pam, the baby of the family, although rumours of me being spoilt are greatly exaggerated. I moved from London to a small town in Surrey with my husband when my three children were small. I love the countryside and growing vegetables in our allotment (community garden). I still work part-time at a local college and at least once a year I am a reluctant participant of marathon fundraising bicycle rides across Europe on the back of my husband’s bone-shaking tandem, cycling to Paris, Gibraltar, Brussels, Barcelona, Montpelier, etc. braving mountain ranges and blazing sun, although to be honest I would just as soon be sitting on a beach or at home watching movies with a bar of chocolate and a bottle of wine.

Can you tell us a bit about your new novel, Million Dollar Question (released 25th April 2015)?

It’s a story of luck and coincidence (and of course money). Of our two heroines, one is a ruined by a scandal that takes her from wealth and privilege to broke and homeless. The other, a divorced mother pining for her ex, suddenly wins a million pounds and has to face the pitfalls that come with that. As the novel progresses, their paths entwine and it turns out they have A LOT in common. It’s possibly the most romantic of our novels and quite a bit of it takes place in London and the Isle of Skye, two of our favourite places.

You’ve written five fabulous novels together now and you must get asked this questions LOADS of times, so I apologise in advance! How does the writing process work between the two of you?

It does vary a bit with each book but usually we will thrash out the storyline and characters with phone calls and emails and then each picks chapters to work on. It’s easier with books like Million Dollar Question, which has two simultaneous stories. We send the pages to each other for editing and reworking and we end up with a master document going back and forth, getting changed along the way. (It has also happened that one of us gets a burst of creativity and has quite a bit of the novel written before the other comes in to strengthen the story and develop the characters further.) We add in humour or suggest twists, we come up with new ideas, clean up sentences, rewrite segments, and generally do anything we think might improve the book. The first draft is inevitably too long and we both cut like crazy, catching typos and mistakes along the way. There’s usually a few rewrites, then one of us does the final run-through before it goes to our proof-reader. We’re pretty well matched in all aspects, writing, ideas, characters, dialogue. And we go over the manuscript so much that our writing really gets blended. We do sound alike anyway and we share a similar sense of humour.  It’s like siblings telling stories of their childhood.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember who did what.

lorraine and pam with alfieDo you always agree on storylines and character traits or do you ever have any disagreements?

Well, it’s not always easy writing together. You have to be flexible. Sometimes you have an unspoken idea of how a scene or character should progress and the way your partner writes it is completely different so you have to rearrange your thinking. That can be a good surprise or a not-so-good one. Sometimes you have a knee-jerk reaction against a new suggestion that veers dramatically from what’s been discussed or what you’ve envisaged. Neither of us will force an idea but we’ll sure as hell argue our point. Luckily, once we’ve had a chance to cool down and reflect, we almost always see the value in each other’s suggestions and realize what we’ve been arguing against is actually quite brilliant. It adds a bit of extra spice to the writing process. And we have a rule that if one of us hates something, it’s out. It’s a collaborative effort.  We both have to like everything and we both have to do what’s best for the book.

Lorraine and Pam on couchHow did the idea come about for you to write novels together under a pseudonym?

We were each separately writing and selling our own short stories with a longer novel in the works. But one day when chatting, we discovered we both wanted to write a story about four sisters and use some of our own (shared) family experiences as inspiration. We were already giving each other feedback on a regular basis, helping out when one of us got stuck. So writing it together seemed logical, saved us fighting over who got to do it. And we felt it would be a fun project, which it was. Then we got a two book contract so we had to write a second one together. And here we are.

Do either of you think you’d ever write a novel alone?

It could happen. We’ve both written independently and we could do again, especially if one of us wanted to move on to a different genre or a very personal project. What the writing partnership gives us is encouragement and confidence and a helping hand when you’ve tied yourself into some corner and can’t see where to go next. It’s almost like having a creative editor looking over your shoulder. We both value each other’s opinions so even if we were writing our own novels, I think we might end up asking for feedback as we went along.

How do you go about doing the relevant research for your novels?

We write mostly from our own life experiences and knowledge, we talk to people, and then of course the internet has an amazing amount of information which we make full use of. We read a lot too although I can’t say we spend entire days in library – our books don’t usually demand it. Alas, so far we’ve never followed anyone like a cop or a fireman around for a day, absorbing their life style – I’ve a feeling even if we were writing about someone like that, we’d be too chicken to ask. We’re actually quite shy.

Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication?Pam and Lorraine 3 and 5 bigger 3000

We’d each sold over 70 short stories before we wrote How To Survive Your Sisters. Lorraine had started selling them when working in publishing, in a literary agency then for Woman magazine. Then when she was backpacking in South America, Pam was at home with kids and for fun took a bunch of creative writing classes, then started submitting to magazines. When we wrote that first novel together, we sent it out to an agent, Caroline Hardman, who was just starting to build a client list. (We were her first clients.) We got a two book contract from Arrow Books, Random House, but when the economy started to affect publishing, we decided to go the indie route with our third novel Looking for La La. We were so green.  We had no idea of promotion, reviews, Facebook or Twitter – the Arrow publicist had handled everything. So we realized we had to learn fast if our books weren’t going to sink without a trace. We are still with our agent but we reverted the rights to our first two novels so we could self-publish globally.

Who are your favourite authors and what kind of books do you both enjoy reading?

 A huge variety. We both love Anne Tyler and Susan Isaacs – Pam always lists Compromising Positions as her favourite novel, whereas Lorraine has loved Jane Austen, Tolkien, Daphne Du Maurier, and C.S. Lewis since she was about 12. We love all the good funny chicklit writers like Helen Fielding, Maeve Binchy, Marian Keyes, Fiona Walker, Jennifer Weiner, Jane Green, Nick Hornby (male version) but other writers such as Amy Tan, Sue Monk Kidd, Margaret Atwood, Barbara Kingsolver also come to mind besides mysteries, thrillers, (John Grisham, Michael Connelly) wisecracking detective stories like Raymond Chandler, Janet Evanovich and Sue Grafton, some historical (Diana Gabaldan) and Lorraine loves to listen to l-o-o-n-g epic Game of Throne-type fantasy stories when she’s spending hours driving to and from horse rescues. And Pam spends her holiday devouring autobiographies.

And finally – can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?

We’re working on a third novel in the Crouch End Confidential series which started with Looking For La La and followed on with To Catch A Creeper. The books could best be described as chicklit mysteries with Cathy, our crazy housewife and wanna-be sleuth, getting herself into all kinds of tangled situations, both domestic and more dangerous as well.   We keep writing about her because she’s so much fun.

A huge thank you to Pam and Lorraine for taking part in this interview. ♥

And thank you, Holly, for the great questions.  It was fun!

see the original on Bookaholic Confessions.

Interview : Ellie Campbell ~ Million Dollar Que$tion | Jera's Jamboree

Interview : Ellie Campbell ~ Million Dollar Que$tion

JJ is delighted to be welcoming Ellie Campbell today.
dfw-ec-mdq-cover-large
 
 
 
 
 
Hi Lorraine and Pam,
 
Welcome to JJ!
Please summarise Million Dollar Que$tion in 20 words or less. 


Wealthy woman loses everything just as impoverished single mother wins a million. How does luck and money affect their lives?

What was the idea/inspiration for your novel? 

Wondering how people deal with extreme changes in fortune.

Please tell us about the characters in your book. 

Olivia is a ruthless career-obsessed workaholic who ends up broke and homeless, Rosie Dixon is a sweet naïve mother of two still pining for her ex-husband.

What scene did you most enjoy writing? 

The scene where Rosie wins a million pounds. It was fun imagining what that might feel like when you’re down to your last penny and how hard it would be to believe your luck.

… and what scene was the hardest? 

The charity event where we meet Olivia. Trying to explain her hedge fund career without drowning in boring financial details and to make an over-privileged cynical character sympathetic.

Did you travel to any places?

Pam went to Marbella and we both took a trip to the Isle of Skye. We spent a lot our childhood up there and it was a great excuse to go back.

Do you have a favourite place you go to for inspiration or a favourite activity? 

Lorraine goes out to hang with her horses …

 
 
 
 
and Pam goes to her allotment (community garden) or walks the dog. 
 
Finally ladies, what has been the best part of your writing journey so far? 

Having a reason to talk to each other on the phone every day. Meeting lots of great people – authors, bloggers and book reviewers. They have been awesome. 

Wishing you success ladies.
 
Head over to the Goodreads page to enter for your chance to win a copy.
Closes May 7th 2015.
You’ll find an interesting bio over on their website.
Twitter: @ecampbellbooks
Sign up for Ellie Campbell’s newsletter for free books, offers and exclusive news.

via Interview : Ellie Campbell ~ Million Dollar Que$tion | Jera’s Jamboree.

The Love Of A Good Book talks to The Chicklitsisters

The Love of a Good Book talks to The Chicklitsisters

Lorraine and Pam are co-authors of the Ellie Campbell novels. They write together despite living in different countries. Pam in UK and Lorraine in US. They find writing together the perfect excuse for endless phone conversations. Together they’ve published four novels, How To Survive Your Sisters, When Good Friends Go Bad, Looking For La La and To Catch a Creeper.

20140315-190031.jpg

Hi ladies, it’s lovely to catch up with you both, it’s been nearly a year since our first interview 
And we have a lot to catch up on, I have a different blog and you, a new Novel.

 

Your new book is called ‘To Catch a Creeper’ please could you tell me about it? 

Yes, like Looking For La La, you could call it a chicklit mystery – it’s a funny entertaining rollercoaster ride about a North London wife and mother who once again finds herself involved in solving a murder, while surmounting marital crises, career crises, friendship crises and everyday parental challenges. We intend it as the second book in a series but it totally stands alone if someone hasn’t read the first. This time there’s a burglar terrorizing the neighbourhood and a transvestite as the prime suspect. Of course Cathy’s female friendships are a vital part of the story and her long-suffering husband has his own issues to deal with.

‘To Catch a Creeper’ follows Cathy from ‘Looking for La La’ – has Cathy changed at all? 

Yes, she’s still scatter-brained, a bit naïve and very loyal and dependent on her friends but she has gained in confidence and self-esteem. At the start of the book she’s no longer a depressed ‘desperate housewife’ but very excited about her new job and much more secure in her vastly improved marriage. (Of course we couldn’t let her stay that content for long.) As complicated as things get I’d say she’s better prepared for adversity and using her ingenuity to overcome obstacles rather than falling prey to jealousy, suspicion and alcohol-fuelled fights – although she still enjoys her girls’ nights out which now have increased from twice a month to every Wednesday.

dfw-ec-tcac-cover-mid

Can you tell me about some of the new characters we will meet? 

Well, there’s her hip new colleagues at the advertising agency, including ‘Vicious Viv’ and other trendy young executives who seem to have it in for poor old Cathy. She has a new neighbour, an eccentric nervous old lady, Mrs Baker, who involves Cathy in a running battle with her domineering daughter and proves to be full of surprises. And then there’s the nerdy middle-aged members of the Neighbourhood Watch, mostly cardigan-sporting males, who she enlists to help her solve her crime.

There’s going to be more in the ‘Crouch End Confidential mystery’ series, what can we expect to read about in the future? 

I think you’re going to see the new book transition even further into the mystery side as Cathy and Pimple (the cleaning lady) decide they have a talent for solving crimes. There’ll be more developments in her marriage, her family life and with her female friends. And of course the same laughs, chaos and complications.

20140315-185843.jpg

Last time we discussed your writing process, (Lorraine & Pam are sisters who write as Ellie Campbell), today I would like to ask if you find it difficult getting a book to its print stage, when you live in different time zones? 

It’s not really an issue now that Pam has stopped jolting us out of slumber with pre-dawn phone calls and I have realized I’d better contact her early in the day because the UK is 7 hours ahead. We have few really urgent ‘have-to-be-answered-this-minute’ decisions. Actually I get a bit insomniac, I’m often on the internet at 4 a.m. and Pam frequently surprises me by responding to an email when I happen to know it’s 1 a.m. in England. It’s only a problem if she doesn’t get to the phone in time and decides to return my call forgetting it’s some ungodly hour over here – which happened when I was jetlagged a couple of days ago – and we inadvertently woke my husband. Since we’d just returned from India and he was exhausted, I felt terrible about it.

20140315-185942.jpg

Questions for you both to answer:

if you were told that you could live any day without repercussions for your actions, what would you do and why?

Lorraine: I don’t have any secret criminal – or otherwise naughty – fantasies so I’d probably pick something I’d be far too chicken to do these days unless I was sure I’d come out unscathed – I don’t bounce the way I did when I was 13. I’d love to jump a horse at top speed over huge cross-country obstacles for example or play a fast-paced game of polo without falling off. Or maybe I could summon the nerve for a spot of extreme skiing and basically just fall down a mountain, popping to my feet with panache for the final run in. When you say no repercussions, you’re including bruises and broken bones, right?
Pam: I’d probably spend the morning releasing all the battery hens from their poor life, and the laboratory animals at the same time. Then I’d hijack some cattle lorries heading for slaughter. Find them good homes where they could live a lovely peaceful life. In the afternoon I’d rob a bank so I could use the money to open a horse rescue centre. (Might all take more than a day though.)

If you could choose one book that you think everyone should read, what would it be and why?

Lorraine: The Bible. Our grandmother used to force it on us every Sunday, she was very religious and didn’t approve of us playing on the Sabbath! And from a historical, political, or educational standpoint, it is THE big epic, documenting – and still inspiring – stories of bravery, love, death, murder, religious wars, crusades, invasions, great kindnesses, terrible cruelties. Christians, Jews and Muslims have based their entire cultural identities, social laws and moral codes around its ancient texts. It’s actually mind-blowing to imagine how our world might have developed without this one book. And it’s still influencing our lives today even though everyone seems to find something different in its pages.
Pam: I’m going to go for the Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Anderson. There’s just so many great stories in there, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling, Tin Soldier, The Nightingale, Snow Queen, etc. Everyone should read them as kids.

What or who in life inspires you?

Lorraine: Smiles, friendly people, nature. I’m lucky enough to live on ten acres with stunning views of the Rocky Mountains to the west and incredible sunrises over the haystack-shaped hill to our east. It’s impossible not to jump out of bed when I see the sky awash with red and orange and know the horses are at the fence waiting for me.
Pam: My friends. They’re just awesome. In so many ways.

Please would you share who your 5 dream dinner party guests would be?

Lorraine: I’d step back to classic Hollywood in its most glamorous era hoping to pick up some backlot gossip. For starters I’d choose Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Robert Mitchum with Barbara Stanwyck or Mae West for witty one-liners – and just to liven things up the Marx Brothers could fight over the final chair. But if any of them cancelled, Errol Flynn has always been one of my all-time original heartthrobs.
Pam: I’m always a bit nervous about dinner parties, especially if it is me holding one. So I’d choose a few comedians to liven things up. Probably no 1 is Russell Brand, because even though he can be very naughty, he is incredible to listen to and can tie people up in knots. Graham Norton because he is just so quick-witted and makes me laugh with all his silly looks. Then I’d bring in Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders and watch them spar off each other. Finally I’d get Jerry Seinfeld because he’s super talented and it’s nice to get an American take on things.

At your dinner party, there’s a cocktail in honour of ‘ To Catch a Creeper’ what are the ingredients?

Lorraine: Tricky…in honor of Cathy’s scatty nature and dubious culinary skills, it would probably be something haphazard and impromptu – vodka and blackcurrent Ribena, supplemented with the kids’ juice boxes when the Ribena runs out.
Pam: I could also see her doing something totally self-indulgent and decadent – Mars Bars in a blender with Baileys Irish Cream. Yumm.

20140315-190521.jpg

A big thank you to Lorraine and Pam for dropping by to chat!

To celebrate the launch of ‘To Catch A Creeper’ 
Looking for la La is just 99p from the 24/03-30/03/2014
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk

In the US only, you will be able to get ‘How to Survive Your Sisters’ FREE from the 26/03-30/03/2014
Amazon.com

via The Love of a Good Book talks to The Chicklitsisters.

Writer's Corner: Survival Skills For Writing Partners

Writer’s Corner

Survival Skills for Writing Partners by Ellie Campbell

Hi, we’re Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell, the ‘chicklit sisters’ who write under the name of Ellie Campbell.  538a9-elliecampbell1This always brings up questions, mostly about how we manage to avoid killing or alienating each other.  People understand creativity is an intensely personal thing – as one variation of a famous quote has it: ‘Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed’.  Given the intense emotions and vulnerability the process inspires, involving another person could be considered nearly as touchy as sharing a boyfriend – let’s just say you’d better have some strategies in place.   And frankly we are not the angelic siblings portrayed in “Little Women”: the four of us Campbell girls were infamous for flare-ups, squabbles, fist fights, marathon sulks – all the fun family dynamics we explored in our first novel ‘How To Survive Your Sisters’. But with our fourth novel, ‘To Catch A Creeper: A Crouch End Confidential Mystery’, ready to be launched on March 24th, we’ve decided to unlock ten of our deepest darkest partnership secrets.

What can you do to assist you and your writing partner in developing a common ‘authorial voice’?

Arrange to grow up in the same family, telling and retelling the same old stories, preferably with a Scottish accent that it will take years to tame into semi-intelligibility.  And make sure the younger one slavishly follows the elder, imitating her every gesture and move.

What do you do if you start to suspect you’re actually the better writer?

Keep it to yourself.  Remember all those times you’ve been stuck and unable to produce a coherent intelligible sentence and realize your partner is probably suffering from the same illusion.

What if there is a point on which you really can’t agree?

Maintain that this is an equal partnership and a democracy.  Ask her if she’d rather be right or be happy.  And argue that 18 months age difference carries a lifetime of seniority.

What do you do if you hate the pages your partner has just spent the whole day writing?

Say nothing.  She might hate it herself the next day when the glow wears off.

What if you had just had a disagreement with your partner about something else, do you take it to work with you?

Hell yeah. Add in a character that has all her bad characteristics.  And then give her boils, warts,  and whatever other awful retribution fits the scene.

What do you do if your partner is reading aloud a really bad joke which she thinks is hilarious, so much so that she can’t get it out for laughter

Agree that it is terrific.  Try your best to laugh alongside. Delete it slyly months down the line.

What if your partner takes credit for writing a scene or chapter that you have written?

Silently seethe.  Then later take the credit for something she has written.

What do you do if the story is taking a direction you don’t like?

Subtlety is required here.  Send her a day pass to a Spa that has to be used next day and take over.              

What do you do if your partner accuses you of slacking off? 

Insist you’ve spent the last few days on brainstorming, research and character background.  If all else fails, tell her your computer has malfunctioned and the internet is down.

What do you do if your partner is doing all the writing and you aren’t?

Accept that is the way that writing works.  Don’t fret too much unless she’s finished the book and insists on publishing it as her own sole work. Then that is worrying.

And finally, a freebie:

What do you do if you have a row so violent that you feel ready to storm over there and wring each others’ necks?

Feel grateful you live thousands of miles and an ocean apart.  Pour a large vodka, bitch to your husband and cut off all communication.  Hopefully you can laugh about it tomorrow.

Posted by Jencey Gortney 

via Writer’s Corner: Survival Skills for Writing Partners by Ellie Campbell.

Ellie Campbell says:  Thank you Jencey.  And remember that How To Survive Your Sisters is FREE this week on Amazon.com and Looking For La La is just 99 cents/99 pence until Sunday.

A Spoonful of Happy Endings: Review and Interview

Spoonful of Happy Endings

From: A Spoonful of Happy Endings:

Review & Interview: ‘Looking for La La’ by Ellie Campbell (2014)

A few weeks ago I was contacted with a review request for Ellie Campbell’s new novel ‘Looking for La La.’ I had already seen several messages on Twitter and within the book blogging world about this book and have to admit I was quite curious! Ellie Campbell is actually a pseudonym for Pam and Lorraine, two sisters who write novels together, and ‘Looking for La La’ is slightly based on Pam’s own experiences of her husband receiving anonymous postcards. I’ve also had the chance to interview Lorraine and Pam about their work, writing in general, and their plans for the future, so make sure you also check out the author interview below!

Housewife Cathy is getting a bit bored with her dull life as a stay-at-home mum. However, her life is suddenly shaken up a bit when her husband Declan starts receiving strange anonymous postcards from someone who calls themselves ‘La La.’ At first, Cathy is thrilled with the excitement and decides to investigate together with her best friend Raz. Soon, though, things get tricky as Cathy discovers she has her own secret admirer to deal with, her friends are hiding all kinds of secrets from one another, and the relationship between Cathy and Declan starts to tense up more and more…

This book was quite a whirlwind, but a pleasant one! While the story starts off with Cathy living the life of an average stay-at-home mum, as soon as a bit of spice is added in the form of these postcards from the unknown La La, everything is turned upside down and all kinds of things start to happen. One of the most wonderful things about the novel was that the authors managed to keep me guessing until the very last pages; I had no idea what was going to happen and I was really surprised by some of the twists and turns in the book. While the story might perhaps here and there be a bit too fast-paced to some readers, I did really enjoy that it was different and fun.

I’m not quite sure whether I really fell in love with the heroine of the novel, Cathy, but she was certainly entertaining and I got caught up in her story. Both the primary and secondary characters in the book were worked out very realistically; all of them were flawed in their own personal ways and especially the bitchy side of Cathy’s friends made me laugh out loud several times. I wouldn’t necessarily say this book is 100% chick lit, but more of an interesting mix of chick lit, a bit of women’s fiction, and a touch of mystery/detective novel. As a whole, ‘Looking for La La’ is a fast-paced and quirky read, filled with lots of entertaining moments and twists and turns you will not see coming!

Rating: 7,5/10

For more information about this book: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads 
Thanks to the author for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Author Interview with Ellie Campbell 

  

I’m delighted to have Pam and Lorraine, a.k.a. Ellie Campbell, on the blog today for an author interview in which they tell us more about their book ‘Looking for La La’, their plans for the future and their career as authors!

Can you tell us something about your new novel, ‘Looking for La La’?

Looking For La La is the story of a bored frazzled mother-of-two who is initially excited when someone mails a love postcard to her husband.  As she enlists her best friend in a quest to discover the sender, secrets are exposed, suspicions rife, romance kindled and she ends up putting her marriage, her friendships and even her life in jeopardy.  It’s a humorous mystery and at the same time a look at that limbo stage in a woman’s life when her kids have returned to school, her marriage is well past the honeymoon stage and she’s suffering the frustrations of not quite knowing what her new role should be. 

Where did you find the inspiration for ‘Looking for La La’? Is it in any way based on your own personal experiences?

Actually Pam’s husband did receive an almost identical postcard and they never did find out who sent it.  But instead of driving herself crazy the way our heroine Cathy does, Pam laughed it off and decided it would be a great opening scene for our latest book.  Plus she well remembers how bonded she and her girlfriends were in the days when they were all at-home mothers and children ruled their lives.  However, the postcard is the limit of actual events we used. There were no murderers in our neighbourhood.  (Or if there were, we weren’t involved in them.)

Which character in the novel did you most enjoy writing about and why?

Well, Cathy was a lot of fun to write because while she has a lot of good qualities she’s not exactly the perfect wife or mother – she’s scatty, impulsive, sometimes jealous, often childish in good and bad ways and she gets up to some crazy antics.  But her neighbour Zena was also a favourite – a prissy, eccentric clean-freak with terrible dress sense.

What is it like to write as a duo? How did the two of you decide to start writing novels together?  

We began by showing each other our short stories just for interest…which turned into sending stuff we felt needed some critical advice or a little help…which led to us deciding to write a book together – mainly because we both wanted to write about the sister thing and include some of our childhood memories and our mother’s stories.  We could hardly have two similar books using the same material to so we decided to co-write ‘How to Survive Your Sisters’.  It’s fun, challenging but mainly it removes the lonely aspect of being a writer.  We get constant feedback and can be quite put out if one of us writes a bit we think is brilliant and the other doesn’t rush to email us back and compliment it.   Well, maybe I’m not entirely serious there but it is nice to have someone to share the load.

Can you perhaps tell us something about your future plans as an author? Are you already working on a next novel?

Well, yes, funny you should ask.  We actually have a lot going on.  The sequel to ‘Looking for La La’ entitled ‘To Catch A Creeper’ is about to be published on March 24th this year.  We also have our fifth novel Million Dollar Question in the final editing stages and we are working on a third in the Crouch End Confidential Mystery series which is based on Cathy, the main character in ‘Looking For La La’ and ‘To Catch A Creeper’.  We’re hoping even more books about her sleuthing skills will follow.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Above all, sit down and write.  Many people think they have a novel in them but never get past the dreaming stage.  There’s much to be said for writing what you know about, what interests you, or what you yourself would love to read rather than what you think will sell.  Don’t waste creative energy discussing your ideas with others and don’t let people discourage you.  Enjoy the amazing changes the internet has brought to book publishing. It’s never been easier to self-publish and find readers.  But keep your standards high.   If you put your ebook up on Amazon, you’re responsible for the final product and at the end of the day people still get annoyed with typos and sloppy writing and don’t hesitate to show it with those killer one star reviews.  Finally, a great cover is your best publicist.  (That’s a lot, isn’t it?  Sounds very bossy.) 

What is the last book you read that you’d like to recommend to others?

Lorraine: I really enjoyed ‘The Affair’ by Colette Freedman.  A friend gifted me a copy when I was in Los Angeles recently and I read it all on the plane on the way home.  The story is written from the point of view of three different characters in a love triangle, starting with the wife, then the husband and then the mistress.  I liked the way there weren’t any blanket villains in the scenario, just ordinary people dealing with age-old issues and human weaknesses.

Pam: ‘Yours Truly’ by Kirsty Greenwood.  It was such fun and made me laugh out loud quite a few times.  Well done to her. 

Which book could you not live without?  

Lorraine: OK, I’m going to try really hard not to say Pride and Prejudice although I know it almost by heart and pick The Famous Five by Enid Blyton.  Even though I haven’t seen a copy for years and they are kind of laughable, Blyton’s adventure series were the easily accessible novels that got me into reading at a very young age and made it an essential part of my life.  From there I became a total bookworm and went on to Swallows and Amazons, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe… I get chills just thinking of those childhood friends.

Pam: I have always loved Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.   It had everything – adventure, pirates, buried treasure, a talking parrot, Long John Silver.  It was the perfect novel , inspired me into wanting a life of adventure and I always used to think of it when Lorraine was off sailing around the Caribbean. So jealous. 

And last but not least, if you had to describe ‘Looking for La La’ in just three words, which words would you pick?

Funny,  Quirky.  Unique.

Thanks so much, Pam and Lorraine! 🙂

JeanzBookReadNReview: PROMOTIONAL POST – LOOKING FOR LA LA & TO CATCH A CREEPER BY ELLIE CAMPBELL

INTERVIEW WITH ELLIE CAMPBELL

AKA

PAM BURKS & LORRAINE CAMPBELL

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?

Our names are Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell, sisters writing together as Ellie Campbell.  We were both born in Inverness, Scotland, although the family moved to Edinburgh and then when we were teens to the south of England.  These days Pam lives in Surrey, just outside London and Lorraine lives in Longmont, just outside Boulder, Colorado.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?

On one level, yes, it was always there in that we both loved reading, writing, creating fantasy worlds.  But it never felt like a real option.  Growing up, Pam wanted to be a farmer or work with horses and Lorraine wanted to be an explorer, or a sailor or a cowboy.  Something adventurous.  Of course we both ended up doing clerical and secretarial work on leaving school.  We loved books but ‘authors’ were people who studied great literature and we just weren’t that academic.

When did you first consider yourself as a “writer”?

Probably, for each of us, when we’d had several short stories published and magazine editors were contacting us, asking for more work.  We were writing separately in those days.

Did it take a long time to get your first book published?

We’d been writing shorter things for years before we even attempted a novel.  How To Survive Your Sisters was the first book that we started to work on together from scratch.  We had an agent by then and once our agent sent it to Random House, things seemed to happen quickly.  But we both have at least one unpublished manuscript on our shelves so we definitely paid our dues.

How does the writing process work with two authors?

Well there are compromises of course but it’s actually great to have the support and encouragement of another person and we fire each other’s imaginations. We brainstorm by phone, email and Skype, throwing out ideas and then, when we’ve hashed out a basic story, we each pick a character or chapter, start writing scenes and send them to each other.  We both add our input to every page and chapter so that by the end we can’t really separate who wrote what.

Do you ever disagree on the direction of a character or the plot?

Yes, sometimes – rarely – we get quite snappy with each other, especially if someone has spent ages on writing something and the other decides it should all go a different way.  Luckily it doesn’t happen very often and it does help that we live thousands of miles apart.  Usually we just need time to cool off and think about what’s best for the book.  That’s really our main objective – since we’re both working towards a common goal, we make it about the work rather than about our egos.

If there’s a disagreement, say about plot, title, cover, etc how do you solve it?

We keep brainstorming until we come to a solution we both like, especially with something as important as titles.  As far as plot, if one has an idea that the other really detests, then it’s out.  It’d be pointless to try to force the case.  Having said that though, partnership involves compromise.  If we really can’t agree then one of us may have to concede in order to move the whole thing forward.  Usually we’re not that stubborn.

Do you market the book any differently with it having two authors?

Not really, apart from the photos on our author pages and social media accounts are of two people.   Really it’s the books that are talking. Hopefully it’s far more interesting than Lorraine and I could ever be.

Do you write alone as a sole author of a book too? If so which do you enjoy most?

We have written alone in the past, both novels and short stories.  I think with short stories, it’s preferable to do it alone, especially if there’s a tight word count.  But even when we work solo, we tend to give each other pieces of advice, and hopefully we both listen.

Do you get together in the same room to do the writing or is it all done via computers?

Living the other side of the world from each other, it’s hard to be in the same room. Our time zones are about 8 hours’ difference, so that complicates even Skype calls. On the rare occasions, when we visit each other on holidays, we always imagine we might get some writing done, but it’s never worked out. When we meet up in person, it’s just too easy to go off and have fun instead.

AUTHOR LINKS

Website: http://chicklitsisters.com

Facebook: Ellie Campbell Books

Twitter:  @ecampbellbooks

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1710882.Ellie_Campbell

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/ecampbellbooks

via JeanzBookReadNReview: PROMOTIONAL POST – LOOKING FOR LA LA & TO CATCH A CREEPER BY ELLIE CAMPBELL.

Pam Burks: My Heart Belongs to ………. | The Love Of A Good Book

Pam Burks: My Heart Belongs to ………. THE ISLE OF SKYE

Every holiday throughout my childhood, my family would squeeze into our wreck of a car and drive the 250 odd miles to our grandma’s home on the Isle of Skye – birthplace of my dad and his parents and their parents and so on.

Growing up in Edinburgh was brilliant, no question. I’d gangs of friends, played out all day, dodging cars and strange-looking men. I’d climb church roofs with killer drops, clamber to the top of great high oak trees, coming home only when it grew dark. So why did I long for Skye so much?

I’d have sleepless nights beforehand. Ached to get there.

The journey was horrendous, all five passengers taking turns with the sick bag. The roads were windy, bumpy, some of them mere dirt tracks, but as soon as we reached the Kyle of Lochalsh car ferry, I knew I was almost home.

I’d leave the car and breathe deeply, as we made the crossing, absorbing the sweet scent of the peat-burning fires emanating from chimneys of the whitewashed houses dotting the landscape.

We’d arrive at my grandma’s house, late at night. The beds would have been warmed with the stone hot water bottles, a fire would burn in the range. I’d crash out the minute my head hit the pillow and next morning, I’d squint open my eyes and know I was in heaven.

To me, the freedom here seemed even greater. There was only one family living nearby, but they had five kids, so with my three sisters, I’d eight ready-made playmates alongside all the chickens, cats, dogs, sheep and cows.

We’d fish for crabs, go on boat trips to empty the lobster creels and spend hours messing around in the rockpools. We’d wade through peat bogs, stand perilous close to crumbly clifftops and take dips in the cold North sea. Once I had to swim like crazy as a huge fin appeared ten feet from where I was bathing. Turned out to be a harmless basking shark.

I’d follow heather tracks for miles, knock on any door and the householders would usher me inside, clucking away about how they’d known my dad since he was a “wee bairn”.

Last year, I returned with some of my family. Part holiday, part research. I was afraid I’d be disappointed. Our childhood friends had moved away. Some had died. Our family croft and the house I knew as my second home had long since sold. There was now even a bridge to the mainland. Where was the romantic ideal of “over the sea to Skye”?

Wasn’t a great start. I found out that I booked in one of the busiest holiday periods on the island as the Highland Games had just finished. I expected hordes of people, crowded shops and tourist sights, with the capital Portree changed beyond recognition. I was worried we’d be bored.

How surprised I was.

We visited Dunvegan castle, drank in fabulous pubs, danced at ceilidhs (where I was flung around the dancefloor by kilted members of a Chicago Piper band).

We sailed the bay to see white-tailed sea eagles soaring high above us and seals playing in the water.

We walked around the magnificent Cuillin mountains and picnicked beside the Fairy Pools.

Yes there was a bridge, but the ferry still ran. Yes it was busy, but there weren’t the hordes of tourists I expected. Maybe because each passing place on the narrow roads, is its own beauty spot. The scenery was outstanding.

I travelled back as I’d arrived, via the ferry, but no sooner had the boat left shore than I was aching again to return, knowing that I was leaving my home.

My heart belongs there.

Oh wow, I’m still amazed by that shark. Thank you so much for sharing Pam

via Pam Burks: My Heart Belongs to ………. | The Love Of A Good Book.

ORDER YOUR COPY OF ‘TO CATCH A CREEPER ON MARCH 24TH.

Socrates Book Reviews – Guest Post: Desert Island Delights

 

If you were stranded on an island what 10 things would you most want with you?

1) Kindle, filled with books and solar powered so that it wouldn’t run out of charge as I guess they’ll be no plug sockets on this island. Note to Self: Preload Kindle before you go on any cruises or plane journeys where there’s a likelihood of crashing into the sea.

2) Laptop, again solar powered, then I could write away to my heart’s content. I would so love internet access to go with it so I could do my own research and Skype people, let them know I’m safe, ask for pick-up etc, but I guess that wouldn’t be possible if I was in a hugely remote place.

3) Water I guess – especially if there was none in the island. Pretty important. Should have been first really. Or maybe I’d become a real survival expert and learn how to extract salt from seawater or set up some kind of water-gathering device. Another Note to Self: Preload to Kindle, lots of “how to do things when stranded books”.

4) Food. I’m assuming the island has some natural foods that I can eat, berries, fruit and fish, etc. but just in case it didn’t, then I guess I would have to have a huge hamper of food enough to last until I am picked up. (And tin-openers with it and chocolate, lots of chocolate).

5) Shoes. I know what it’s like on the beach when the sand gets excruciatingly hot. Hopping from shady spot to shady spot. I assume this is a hot island. But even if it wasn’t, and it was all cold and craggy, I’d still need a good pair of shoes, stop my feet getting torn to shreds. Just a nice pair of trainers, don’t need to worry about make or anything.

6) Clothes – I wouldn’t want to be rescued naked, although if there was a choice I suppose I’d forego my modesty. But I hate being too cold and too hot and clothes would be hugely important. I mean I may get all clever with the vegetation and vines and make myself a banana leaf sarong or waistcoat or something, but it would be much nicer just to have some clothes washed up on the shore with me.

7) Sunblock. If I was there for months, I’d probably get very brown, but risk skin cancer? No way.

8) Moisturizer. There may be natural oily plants, like aloe vera plants or coconuts that I could crack open and rub into my face, but it would be so much easier to have a big old tub of moisturiser to hand. When I’m rescued I don’t want to meet the press looking like a wrinkled old prune as I model my banana leaf sarong and show them my home-made water collection contraption…

9) Animal. Little furry thing that I could befriend, like a squirrel or wallaby, or heck, even a rat (as long as there was only just one). I would be their friend. Tame them and they would follow me everywhere, and I would whistle and they’d come running to me and put their little paw up when they wanted more nibbles. I would talk to them and teach them commands like sit, beg, down. They would lie in my arms at night and I’d tell them stories or read to them from my memoirs. Because you might as well write them if you’re on an island, leave something behind for your family to remember you by.

10) Cigarette Lighter/ Fire starter. So I’ve been fed and watered, am comfortable clothes-wise, wandering around my island in my shoes and bikini under my banana leaf sarong, followed faithfully by my highly-trained squirrel/rat creature, been writing and reading with no disturbance (bliss), and my skin is well moisturised (for the press and future movie-makers watching on TV), then my No 10 would have to be a cigarette lighter. I love real fires and I’d need one for warmth, scaring off ferocious animals (if I can’t tame them), cooking, attracting passing ships/planes, gazing into and dreaming of lost loves, etc. Of course I’d have learned how to rub two sticks together my preloaded “desert island survival” e-book, but honestly, every night…? What a faff.

Do you know, writing this, I am actually wanting to go to this island, it is seeming more like bliss every moment.

Excerpted from Socrates Book Reviews – thank you, Yvonne, for featuring us today.  

Rabid Readers: Chat with “Looking for La La’s” Ellie Campbell.

Yes, we’re in the UK Top 100 novels for under 2.99 and with perfect timing we have this fun interview with Rabid Reader’s Tammy Dewhirst.  Thank you, Tammy.

Looking for La La author Ellie Campbell – also known as sister team Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell kindly consented to “sit down” for an interview. When coming up with the questions I struggled with what I wanted to know having read the novel with what the reader who hasn’t yet experienced the fun that is Cathy O’Farrell would want to know before diving into the fray. The end result is a little of both.  Stay tuned to the end of the interview for information about how you can win your own copy of Looking for La La by Ellie Cambell.

To read my review of Looking for La La click here.

Question 1: I see that you live halfway across the world from each other. How did you come to the decision to write together? My dad and I live quite a distance from each other and that enables us to get along better on a personal and working level. Do you find this to be the case as well? 

Pam: In many ways yes.  We are less than two years difference in age and we get on extremely well as sisters and friends.  However, professionally we’ve found that working apart actually suits us.  I have been over to Colorado to visit Lorraine, hoping to work on a few things, and we found we did very little.  As soon as I got home we were on email, skype and internet immediately swapping ideas and stories.  It seems to work for us better at a distance.

Lorraine:  Not to mention that if we disagree on anything we put the phone down (I didn’t say slam it, did I?) and cool off.  All sisters argue and it’s easier to be touchy and sensitive if you’re face to face.  As for writing together, we were both writing short stories and found we enjoyed sending our work to each other for comment, criticism, suggestions for improvement… a writer’s group of two, if you like.  It grew out of that.

Question 2: Your writing style is very cohesive. Is one of you the idea person and the other the writer?

No, we’re both into it all, hashing over the story, sitting down to write a section.  Sometimes we can’t wait to tell the other the new idea we had in the night, talking possibilities over and elaborating like a pair of old gossips. As for the ‘writer’s voice’, I think we sound alike even when we talk, it’s quite jarring hearing a story or a joke come out of your sister’s mouth that is exactly what you might have said.  There are times when one of us is doing more writing – usually if we’re in a major rewrite – and the other is editing frantically and there are times when one of us feels more creative and carries the load for a day or two.  But we both go over each scene, paragraph, line, cutting and reworking if necessary. At the end of the day it’s hard to remember who wrote what and who came up with what plot point.

Question 3: I recently heard an interview where a script writer working in a team said that teams enable a writer to keep the best material because the best material is always that of which you’re unsure. Is there a scene in “Looking for La La” you might have cut without having the assurance of the other person?

We actually cut some of our favorite scenes… for length, or because one of us thought the book could survive without it, and because our final rule is if one of us seriously questions or hates something, it’s out.  But yes, we might get cold feet over the day’s work and need the other one to tell us it’s good. As far as specific scenes in Looking For La La, I remember us debating whether having Cathy steal Alec’s glass (for fingerprints) in the office party scene was too outrageous and deciding that given her character (and inebriation) it wasn’t beyond belief.

Question 4: I notice that you’ve quoted Douglas Adams on your Facebook page. I have a number of DNA fans that follow my website. We must know, are you hoopy froods?

Lorraine: Sadly, we can’t claim to be that together.  I rarely know where anything is, let alone remember to bring a towel on my travels or carry it on Towel Day.  But living in England when Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy came out, first as the BBC radio show and then the book, it was a cultural phenomenon as huge as Monty Python, everyone talking about hoopy froods and quoting the funniest bits.  So of course we were part of that and I do remember laughing through the book, though it’s been a while.

Question 5: The story in “Looking for La La” was based on Pam’s personal experience. Did Pam take the Cathy route to solving the mystery? Is Pam the real Cathy?

Pam: Not quite that insane!  And I didn’t try to solve the mystery.   I decided the postcard was a bad joke or stupid prank but it made a great idea for a novel. However, like Cathy, I had an amazing group of close friends when the children were small and I remember when the children went back to school, us all struggling with decisions of what direction our lives should take – go back to the old job, start a new career, have another child? I was lucky in that I was offered an interesting job which I loved by a very good friend of mine.

Question 6: There is a feeling at several points of the story that what Cathy says is written to ring in an ironic sense to the reader, is this the case? In location 328 of the Kindle copy she comments “And this is supposed to be a liberated society” but she is the one who keeps herself as a “prisoner” at home (in her mind).

Yes, the irony is intended.  And, yes, it is Cathy’s fears that keep her prisoner when she obviously misses her former working life and would be a lot happier with more independence, money, stimulation and everything a job could bring.  She’s very much in self-denial, full of self-doubt, sticking her head in the sand when she has to face something she is terrified of – in this case change.  But then her self-esteem is at an all-time low, she’s lost confidence in her ability to function outside the world of motherhood and her stubbornness comes into play.  Because expectations are being made of her and she feels she’s being pushed to action, she’s digging in her heels.  But although Cathy’s extreme, a lot of people are scared by that next big move – be it marriage, kids, a career change…

Question 7: Raz and Cathy do the spit shake which could be considered odd for women of their age until you get to know them. Is that something you, as sisters, do in your life?

Well, probably, we did as kids. Can’t remember the last time but I’m sure our hands were pretty dirty and knees scabby.   But it’s part of the fun of Raz and Cathy’s relationship that they allow each other to be silly and playful, almost like an escape from their stressful adult lives.

Question 7: Your story-lines were pretty well resolved even down to ones that may have seemed minor – the hang up caller. Did you plot the course before writing “Looking for La La” or was it a case of keeping track as you went along.

It’s very organic.  We have certain things plotted and certain things seem to write themselves.  Then we might put “clues” in earlier, to tease the reader.

Question 7: Cathy is written in the spirit of the great British comedy characters. If “Looking for La La” were to be made into a movie, who do you see playing her? I must admit, I pictured the great Welsh actress, Ruth Jones, in the role.

Well, Cathy, of course, would suggest Eva Mendes, and she’d probably hang about the set, making a nuisance of herself. She’d love to be that glamorous and sophisticated. But our choice? Ruth Jones would be great. Are you listening, Ruth??

Question 8: Your cover perfectly conveys the novel. Who created the cover?

Andrew Brown from Design for Writers.  Recommended to us by Kirsty Greenwood, who is a fabulous chick lit author, who runs the site Novelicious.  We felt so lucky to have found someone like him as a designer.  He made the process so easy, that we feel indebted to him, and he came up with the idea of Cathy staring over the fence.

Question 9: I recently compiled a list of 42 novels for Towel Day. If you could list 2 novels you think everyone should read, what novels (or non-fiction works) would they be?

If had to narrow it down to two books, I would perhaps say “Gone With The Wind’ and “Lord Of The Rings”.  They’re both such epic masterpieces.

Question 10: What is coming next for Ellie Campbell?

We just published our two other novels How To Survive Your Sisters and When Good Friends Go bad in the States for the first time.  We haven’t really started to promote them yet so they are very much hidden amongst the millions of other great reads.  Watch this space though.  We also have a fourth novel which is currently with our agent and which hopefully will come out next year.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

They were fun.  Thank you, Tammy, for asking them.

Ellie Campbell is running a fabulous contest on their Facebook Page to win a copy of Looking for La La. Click here for details.

Looking for La La has been selected for the top 100 novels under  £2.99 and has been listed at amazon.co.uk for  £0.99! Perfect time for my UK fans to try this fabulous work.

via Chat with “Looking for La La’s” Ellie Campbell..

WiLoveBooks – 10 Things I've Learned From Being A Writer

Today the authors behind Ellie Campbell are here to tell us what inspired Looking for La La and share what they’ve learned from being a writer. 

Ten Things I’ve Learned from Being a Writer

It happened…well, let’s just say it was a few years back.  My sister, Pam, co-author of our Ellie Campbell novels, was having a peaceful breakfast with her family when a postcard decorated with scarlet lipstick dropped through the letterbox.  Surprisingly, the sender, La La, was proclaiming impassioned love for Pam’s husband.  Below you can read how it appears in our novel, Looking For La La.  (What, us waste a great piece of material like that?  Never!  Particularly when this La La was clearly up to no good.)

“Not a sound is heard as it lands silently on the mat. No drums rolls, crashing thunder, shafts of light. The walls don’t start crumbling, the ground doesn’t vibrate with terrifying tremors and a yawning fissure fails to zigzag across the kitchen floor and separate my husband from his breakfast marmalade.

In short, I’ve no clue as to the impact it’ll have on our lives. Mayhem. Marital breakdown. Murder. It should at least have been written in blood or come in the beak of a dark-winged raven.

It is a postcard. “Love from London” blazoned above a giant pair of pouting lips kissing a cherry-red heart.

At first sight it appears to be one of those “Please Come to Our Rave” flyers which get thrust through my door periodically. Now the chances of me, a world-weary, put-upon mother-of-two, going to a rave are slim to none, but heck it’s nice to be invited.

I turn it over.

Dearest, sweetest Declan – it begins. My eyes widen as I take in the blue spidery handwriting and race to the signature. ‘Love from La La.’”

We never found out who sent the card, Pam’s husband claiming innocence of the whole affair.  (More accurately that there was no affair.)  Knowing her hubbie – and his friends’ questionable sense of humour – she wisely chose to believe him.  It could have been end of story if we hadn’t used it to inspire our third Ellie Campbell novel.  In it bored housewife, Cathy Rogers, goes slightly crazy searching for the identity of La La and discovering everyone around her is concealing secrets… including an alluring romantic admirer and a deadly opponent.

I guess we’ve learned that in life sometimes your gifts come in disguise. Which made me think of other important things I’ve learned from my journey down the author path.  Here are just 10.

1. Writing is cheaper than therapy.  And a lot more productive.

2. You will see countless pairs of reading glasses scattered around your house until the moment you actually need them.

3. Never forward an email chain to your publisher, agent, or person of influence, without checking for rude or personal comments further down the page.

4. Don’t send out anything in writing, be it angry email or lyrical piece of prose, until you’ve had a night to sober up and read it again in the cold harsh light of day.

5. Procrastination is an underappreciated art.  Also known as ‘the creative pause.’

6. Google is specifically designed to suck all the productivity out of a working day.

7. Everything you take in, from childhood on, will leak out someday onto the printed page.

8. Don’t share your friends’ intimate confidences with the world.  Unless you have an endless supply of friends.

9. The instant you’re faced with a computer screen and a deadline, you’ll be filled with an urgent desire to fold laundry and polish that ancient silver teapot you inherited and will never use.

10. Always disguise your sources.  Unless it’s La La and then it’s open season.

via WiLoveBooks.