Tag Archives: Carol Smith

Girls Love To Read – Author Article: Five Simple Twists of Fate by Ellie Campbell

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…

via Girls Love To Read – Author Article: Five Simple Twists of Fate by Ellie Campbell.

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.

sisters kids

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.