Category Archives: Interviews

WiLoveBooks – Author Interview: Ellie Campbell

Thank you to our 10,000 new readers who downloaded Looking For La La this weekend. And thank you to Wilovebooks for this fun interview.

It is two-for-one interview day! I am pleased to welcome to the blog Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell, the sisters behind the writing team of “Ellie Campbell.” They are the authors of How To Survive Your Sisters, When Good Friends Go Bad, and Looking for La La. Be sure to stop back on Thursday for more from this duo as they fill us in on the story that inspired Looking for La La  and share ten things they’ve learned from being a writer.

Q&A with Pam and Lorraine:

Describe your ideal writing space. How does it compare to reality?

Pam: Not that different in actual fact. My reality is an attic, with a window looking out onto fields and trees and the beautiful Surrey countryside. It is quiet and peaceful. I have a convector heater, which keeps the temperature just right. I have lots of windows. It is as I would like it, although ideally I would have a toilet on the same floor. And Lorraine would be sitting behind me, rather than asleep the other side of the world, to answer questions and prompt me when I get stuck. Also she could bring me up cups of tea and cake whenever I desired. And clean the house from top to bottom while my fingers flew across the keyboard.

Lorraine: Hah, fat chance on the sister as slave idea. My dream is a log cabin on the Californian coast, Big Sur, maybe, nestled in the pines but with a view of the cliffs and crashing surf (you did say fantasy, didn’t you?) It would be a beautiful organized space where I could look out the window and see my horses. Everything would be filed, no item marring the immaculate surface of clutter-free desk. The reality is that my office is so messy I can’t stand to go in there so I sit in the family room working at this little restaurant-style booth. It’s got so bad that last night I woke up at 2 a.m. and started tidying. I went to bed again at 4.30 a.m. This year though I’m going to wrestle it under control.

What is the first story you remember writing and what was it about?

Pam: It was about the second world war. My history teacher (a supply teacher by the way) had engaged us in such a way that by the end of his lesson, I couldn’t wait to put pen to paper and do the homework he had requested. It was to be about hiding and dark space. I went home and wrote and wrote. Totally immersed in my tale of the German soldiers walking around, while I was under some trap door. My poor mother injured at my side. I remember writing about their heavy jackboots clomping around.

The next history lesson, the supply teacher was still there and he stood up and read my story aloud. Everyone was silent. I was kind of appalled, amazed, and just really surprised as I began blushing and looking for a place to my hide myself “This story,” he said solemnly, as he came to an end, “Was written by someone in this class” and he read my name out. The class all started clapping, I blushed again and again. But it was at that moment, that I thought, I know what I want to do when I “grow up”.

Lorraine: I can’t compete with that. (I don’t think I did much homework.) Although when I was about five my teacher read aloud a story I wrote about being an elephant in the zoo and I thought she was mocking me, I wanted to hide under the desk. I was pushed into writing my first short story when working for Carol Smith, now a bestselling author but then a very successful literary agent. She always prodded me to write but I was too intimidated and shy about it. It wasn’t until a new secretary was hired and immediately started churning out stories like a fiend that my competitive streak kicked in – or rather the knowledge that cowardice was holding me back. I can’t remember the plot but I sold it to Woman magazine.

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Name a memorable book from your childhood. Why is it memorable?

Pam: I loved the Enid Blyton novels, especially the Famous Five adventures, always capturing bands of smugglers or robbers, or chowing down on luscious picnics and lashings of ginger beer. They’re what really got me reading. Then I started to like non-fiction while still very young. I’d ask Mum if the story was true when we picked out library books. If she said no, I wouldn’t borrow it.

Lorraine: My favorite books were probably ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’ and also ‘The Hobbit.’ Fantasy worlds, magic – I could escape into them for hours. In my mind I was there, skilfully sword-fighting, using my bravery and cunning against the evil villains. Oh, and there were horse books too. I particularly loved The Punchbowl Farm series and Romney Marsh series by Monica Edwards, I still have most of them. I wanted to live there at Punchbowl Farm and be friends with all those children.

If you could ask any writer (living or dead) a question, who would it be and what would you ask?

Lorraine: I’d ask Bill Bryson – ‘Notes From A Small Planet,’ ‘A Walk In The Woods’, – if he’d take me on his next trip. The man has such wit and observational skills. I think his books are hilarious. I think he’d be the perfect travel companion, especially if you were some place remote and far from civilisation where you could really use a sense of humour and an appreciation of the bizarre.

Pam: I’d ask Frances Mayes who wrote ‘Under The Tuscan Sun’ if she could recommend any cool 16th century rental villas in her village. Preferably with a private lake and a pool. Then I’d hunker in with the family, eating amazing Italian food, taking leisurely bike rides, and drinking gallons of Chianti – now that would be bliss.

If you could pick any of the worlds or characters you have created, which would you want to visit or spend a day with?

Pam: Cathy, the heroine in ‘Looking For La La’. I’d actually like to go down the pub with her, or out for a meal and just chat about life and men, and the woes of women. I’ve a feeling we’d have a lot in common. Particularly discussing postcards.

Lorraine: I’d probably say Cathy too although Hazel in ‘How To Survive Your Sisters’ would be a laugh and we could try and one-up each other with our backpacking stories. Actually I’d like to spend an evening with the Tuesday Twice Monthlies, Cathy’s ‘Mothers Restaurant Research Group’, singing karaoke at Tropicos. Especially if yummy Rupert were there. But since I’m not a mother, I’d have to be included as an honorary guest.

What is one thing you like to do when you are not reading or writing?

Pam: Digging around in my allotment, making paths, planting seeds, collecting manure and making it look good. I share it with my friend, Sheila, and we are always escaping whenever the sun comes out. Men have their sheds but I have my allotment.

Lorraine: I am volunteering at a couple of horse rescues helping to train these often-abused horses and getting them to trust humans after a painful past. I love it but I also enjoy riding my own three horses. There is nothing better than heading out into the Rocky Mountains on a beautiful Colorado day. You never know what you’ll encounter – elk, deer, coyotes, bear, mountain lions… well, actually I’d rather not meet the lions but they are out there. I actually saw two from the bedroom window of my cabin – not a sight you easily forget.

What are you currently working on?

Pam: We’ve just finished our fourth novel, Million Dollar Question, which is about two women, one in England, one in America, whose lives are overturned on the same fateful day, one winning a million pounds, the other losing everything. It’s about how each copes with their respective success and failure. And the things that link them together. It’s currently with our agent, Caroline Hardman at Hardman Swainson.

Lorraine: Also, since we’ve only just published Looking For La La , we’re putting a lot of energy on promoting what we think is one of our most fun books yet. We even created our own website and blog – chicklitsisters.com – because we didn’t care for the one we had before. As for a fifth Ellie Campbell novel – it’s really only a fledgling, far too young to expose. But perhaps there’ll be a sequel to La La one day. Cathy is such a great character and we love the combination of humour and mystery. We try to include both in all our books.

via WiLoveBooks.

SHAZ'S BOOK BLOG – AUTHOR INTERVIEW: ELLIE CAMPBELL

Excerpted from SHAZ’S BOOK BLOG.  Thank you Shaz.

Author Interview: Ellie Campbell

Today I’m delighted to be able to welcome Ellie Campbell to talk about her latest book Looking for La La.
Can you tell us a little bit about your new book Looking for La La?
Looking for La La follows the story of Cathy, a bored, unappreciated housewife and mother of two. Her world of school runs, ferrying children here and there, and the occasional nights out with friends is radically transformed by the arrival of a love postcard to her husband. What follows next takes Cathy on a wild ride of suspicion, temptations, marital breakdown and some very dangerous territory.
Where did the inspiration come from for the story?
Pam: Well, the postcard bit was true. It did arrive, addressed to my husband, covered in lipstick kisses. Unlike Cathy, however, I didn’t launch into some wild crazy sleuthing trying to find out the sender. I did tease my husband about his unknown admirer but he ran a health club packed with women and it could have been anyone. It was too good to waste though. I roped in my sister Lorraine to write a funny light-hearted mystery novel using the postcard as inspiration. Some might think that a strange reaction but I think most writers will sympathise. What’s a little infidelity next to a great idea, hah ha? No, seriously, we’d been married for years by then and knowing my husband as I do, I had no doubt it was nonsense.

Which came first, the characters or the plot?

Lorraine: The characters definitely. Cathy pretty much wrote herself and Declan was the perfect foil to go from romantic first meeting to showing the power struggle in marriage and how couples start taking each other for granted. Then there was Cathy’s diverse group of friends, mostly mothers with their own kid-related problems. And Declan and Cathy’s two admirers, providing temptations and creating even greater rifts. With several strong personalities and the unique way they reacted to events, they all conspired to push the plot in directions we didn’t originally plan. It was a very organic way of writing and amazing the way it all came together.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
Lorraine: Pam and I loved reading Enid Blyton books, all the Famous Five adventures. We played imagination games together, where we were pirates or lived in the jungle like Tarzan. And we used to adlib plays into a little cassette recorder. I actually became a total bookworm. I’d go over to friends’ houses and read their books instead of playing with them – no wonder I wasn’t the most popular girl in school. I think we even started a a novel or two as kids. But becoming a writer – no, that was beyond our wildest dreams. I’d write 10-page letters to friends but if I hadn’t started working for Carol Smith, (who was then a literary agent, and has since become a bestselling author), and if she hadn’t encouraged me to write my first short story, I think it might never have happened. For me anyway.
 
Have you ever had writer’s block? And how did you overcome it?
Pam: Yes, but the good thing about working with a writing partner is that with luck they can move the story along when you’re completely stuck. It’s rare that we’re both blocked at the same time. Or just reading what the other has written can suddenly consolidate your half-formed thoughts about the way things should go – not always convenient if they don’t gel with what has been put on the page but we’re always open to hearing fresh ideas and changes. Since I live in England and Lorraine lives in the States, we email each other the latest document at the end of each day and sometimes it’s like waking up to a brand-new novel.
If you weren’t a writer, what career path would you have chosen to follow?
Lorraine: At the moment I’m studying to be a horse trainer and there is a part of me that wishes I’d done so a lot earlier in my life, perhaps worked on an Australian cattle ranch. But I get to play with horses now as well as writing so it’s the best of both worlds. And I’ve had so many life experiences I’d never want to have missed. Including working briefly in the movie industry in Los Angeles – I’d also have liked to make movies or even act if I hadn’t been so shy.

If you could have any of your books made into a film, which one would you choose and why? Who would you cast in the leading roles?

Pam: I think they’d all be filmic but I’d probably choose When Good Friends Go Bad because there are so many secrets and twists and a really dramatic finale. Jennifer Aniston would play Jen. Georgina would be Helena Bonham-Carter or Kate Winslett. Meg would be Kristine Wiig from Bridesmaids, Starkey would be Johnny Depp, Ollie would be Ryan Goslin and we can’t cast Rowan because she needs to stay a surprise.
If you could write another style of genre, what would it be and why?
Lorraine: We both like mystery novels which is why there is nearly always a mystery or a twist in ours. I think it would be fun to write a series like Janet Evanovich does with her Stephanie Bond bounty-hunter. Yes, Stephanie is out there trying to find someone and there is action and drama but it’s really all about the characters, their interrelationships and the humor. Looking For La La was definitely a lighter read than our other two novels, we made it funnier whereas the others were more realistic with funny moments, but we loved getting that sleuthing element in there. We’d also like to write something around horses, our other great passion.

Do you have much spare time to read books? If so, what was the last book you read or what are you currently reading?

Pam: Last book I read was Yours Truly, Kirsty Greenwood. Loved it. Great fun. No wonder it got to No. 1 in Kindle bestsellers. At moment I am too busy writing blog posts and working on the sequel to La La.Lorraine: We really don’t have much spare time except the few pages I read at night before my eyes close. I did manage to devour half of Love The One You’re With by Emily Giffin while travelling to Indiana for the weekend. But don’t tell Pam – she’d have me sitting on the plane editing or updating our blog.
Can you describe Looking for La La in 20 words or less? 
A love postcard brings mystery and turmoil into a mother’s dull routine, jeopardizing her marriage, friendships, and even her life.

 

Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview “Ellie Campbell”

Thank you Shazjera for the lovely interview on Jera’s Jamboree.  You can see the original by clicking on her banner or the link at the bottom.

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Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview “Ellie Campbell”

 

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My guest today on Jera’s Jamboree is a little different. ‘Ellie Campbell’ is the pen name of two sisters, Pam and Lorraine who write together.

Hello ladies, welcome, please summarise your latest book in 20 words or less.

A surprising love postcard throws a bored housewife into turmoil, with secrets threatening her marriage, friendships and even her life.  

What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?  

Pam:  Well, actually it was the arrival of a lipsticked postcard proclaiming passionate love to my husband.  That part of the book was true – all the rest, including the stalker and the possible murderer were figments of our overblown imaginations. Presumably it was a silly joke but it made perfect fodder for a fun novel about marriage, motherhood, female friendships, illicit romance and that difficult stage when all your children have started school and you have yet to find a new direction or a satisfying job.

What inspired you to write?

Lorraine:  I was always a total book junkie, devouring several books a day, and loved to write long funny letters.  But I’d never have considered the possibility of becoming a novelist if I hadn’t worked for the author, Carol Smith, who was then a literary agent and talked me into completing my first short story.  I have to say that what inspired me in those days was my not-so-successful love life.  If I got dumped or was humiliated by an awful date, I could use it as grist for a humorous story in which the heroine always came out the winner.  It made me feel a lot better and it paid.  

Are you pantsers or plotters?

Pam: In the old days I could think up a good opening line and a whole short story would spin itself from there.  Now because we write together, we have to be plotters.  We talk about what will happen in scenes before one of us writes it, we discuss character traits, often we give them a bio.  Usually our books start with a situation.  With How To Survive Your Sisters we wanted to write about the dynamics of a family of four girls and coming together for a wedding seemed an obvious place to start.  With When Good Friends Go Bad it was imagining meeting up as adults with your best friends from school.   But having said that it’s still a very loose outline.  Everything changes as the book evolves.  We discover a new twist, a backstory element we hadn’t thought of or a villain pops up from nowhere.  To be honest, writing Friends we had no idea what had happened to the missing Rowan until about two-thirds through the book.  Or which of the two love interests Jen would end up with.  But surprises are part of the fun.  

Do you have a most creative time of day?

Lorraine:  My best energy is definitely the morning.  We’re surrounded by farmland and have the most amazing dawns here in Colorado, the whole eastern sky streaked with red behind the silhouette of Haystack Mountain which is shaped exactly as the name implies.  I have a few things to do before I can start work – like let out the chickens, feed the horses, the dog, the indoor and barn cats (sometimes even my husband) – but I can already feel the siren call of the computer.  Whereas if I put it off till later, the afternoon say, I get too easily distracted or the interruptions start.

What has been the best part of your writing journey so far?

Pam: Getting published – that was probably the most exciting day, when Arrow gave us a two-book contract and we went into their offices to drink champagne and hear everyone rave about our work.  The freedom of being able to create your own worlds, explore themes that interest you, be able to work from home.  The highs when it’s going good.  The fun of working together as a team, always having something to talk about, an excuse to pick up the phone and chat.  We had a few press and radio interviews when our first two novels came out, even a book signing and a launch party, but actually we are both quite shy and that was more of an ordeal than a pleasure.

Have you joined any writing groups?

Lorraine:  I did go to a writing group at the library once.  One of those where they give you a topic and tell you to write for ten minutes starting from…now.  I thought naively I’d enjoy it since I’d had some short stories published and it was supposed to be very laid-back, no nasty critiques or negative judgements.  Instead I was terrified.  Paralyzed.  I had total performance anxiety, couldn’t think of a thing to put on paper, sweated bullets imagining I’d have to read my scribbling out loud, knew that everything I did get down was pathetic garbage. Now I know why I write under a pseudonym and have to leave the room if anyone is reading my work.  Needless to say I never went back.

Being a writer can be lonely.  Do you have a support network?

Pam: I would have to say Lorraine and I are our own support network.  Since we’re both writing the same book, it gets a lot less lonely.  We get instant feedback, we have someone genuinely interested in what we’re doing, when things aren’t flowing or we’re bored, we can pick up the phone and have endless chats about the plot or characters.  Having said that, with the launch of Looking For La La, our first venture into e-publishing, we’ve had amazing support from other writers such as Kirsty Greenwood, Michele Gorman and several others who have been kind enough to give us advice on promotion, finding a jacket designer or including us in their blogs.  It feels a lot like a sisterhood of authors – we love it.

Please share with us what are you reading now?

Lorraine:  I am reading Love The One You’re With by Emily Giffin.  It’s the story of a happily-married woman who meets up with the passionate ex-lover who was her first real heart-break.  It sounds like a familiar storyline but the writing is so accurate and poignant that it’s impossible not to be gripped.  You can see the heroine struggling to do the right thing and yet getting sucked back into all her old feelings.  We’ve all wondered what happened to the one who got away and what he’d think of you if you ever met up again.  In fact that was a strong element of the story in When Good Friends Go Bad.

And finally … can you share with us what’s your WIP?

Lorraine:  We have actually delivered our fourth novel, Million Dollar Question, to our agent, Caroline Hardman at Hardman Swainson.  It’s the story of two women, on different sides of the Atlantic, whose lives are overturned in a single day, one by winning a million pounds on the premium bonds, the other by losing her fabulous career, her wealth and her fiancé in a shocking scandal.  It follows their two different journeys until their stories finally intertwine.  We’re also refining our new website  – chicklitsisters.com, writing blog posts, arranging a book giveaway of Looking For La La, so that’s taking up quite a bit of time.   As for our next book, we’re still thrashing that one out – it’s in the early birthing stages.  But we enjoyed the characters in Looking For La La so much, especially Cathy, that I wouldn’t be surprised if one day she stumbles upon another mystery and we just have to write a sequel.

Thank you for sharing with us today.

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via Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview “Ellie Campbell” | Jera’s Jamboree.