Tag Archives: Hardman Swainson

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.

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.