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Bookaholic Confessions interviews Ellie Campbell

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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.
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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.

TinasBookReviews: The Saturday Spotlight with Ellie Campbell and Giveaway of Looking for Lala

TinasBookReviews

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Saturday Spotlight with Ellie Campbell and Giveaway of Looking for Lala

Welcome to the Saturday Spotlight, a weekly feature that shines the light on Indie and Debut authors. This week I have the pleasure introducing readers to:

ELLIE CAMPBELL    ~Author of Looking for Lala~

10 Random and Possibly Uninteresting Facts about Ellie Campbell

May~2014 by Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell

Pam is a pescetarian and eats salmon and sweet potatoes almost every night. Mainly because it only takes two minutes to prepare and she can’t be bothered thinking of anything different for herself. She will however happily burn a variety of meals for the rest of her family.

Lorraine is addicted to coffee, tea and wine and gets very grumpy if deprived of one or all. She wouldn’t care if she never saw another piece of salmon in her entire life

The best present Lorraine ever got was when her husband’s friend gave her his Arabian horse Sylvarr. Lorraine’s husband is still cursing the ‘free gift’………..

Pam wants to own a horse again one day but of late has had to settle for the rear end of a tandem.

Lorraine once nailed Pam on the head with a well-aimed rock when they were kids. Lorraine cried so hard from fear of reprisals their parents didn’t even notice Pam staggering around bleeding

Pam once nailed Lorraine on the head with a golf club, practicing her swing at one of Edinburgh’s free courses. She claimed it was an accident

Lorraine is visiting Pam on the way to a wedding in India this Spring. She will only be at Pam’s for one night and half a day.

Pam is hoping in that brief jet-lagged period of time that Lorraine will help write some blog posts

Lorraine hates exercise of all kinds, but did once walk the West Highland way. 100 miles. All uphill.

Pam hates exercise of all kind but she has somehow found herself signed up with a group of long distance challengers to cycle on the back of husband’s tandem from Biarritz to Barcelona. A distance of approximately 600 kilometers. She is dreading it. Especially the Pyrenees mountains in between.

Today Ellie Campbell is giving away a copy of Looking for Lala to one lucky winner, everyone is welcome to enter. International entries can choose an eBook copy, US can choose Ebook or paperback. To enter please fill in the Rafflecopter.

Ellie Campbell says: Thanks for featuring us on your Saturday Spotlight, Tina! Click on the link below to enter the giveaway for LOOKING FOR LA LA.

via TinasBookReviews: The Saturday Spotlight with Ellie Campbell and Giveaway of Looking for Lala.

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.

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.

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.

I heart books! | For lovers of chick-lit, adult and romance books.

A lovely interview with I Heart Books.  Thank you, Kirsty!

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Sisters, doing it for themselves!

POSTED ON APRIL 24, 2013

Who is Ellie Campbell?

L&PGrand Canyon2Actually ‘Ellie’ is two people – sisters and co-authors Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell.  We love all kinds of novels but particularly women’s fiction with a great story, recognizable characters and the ability to make us laugh one minute and perhaps cry the next.  We still share the same sense of humor that got us into so much trouble as kids and so it has been fun writing books that allow us to enjoy the comic aspects of everyday life while still exploring some serious issues and indulging in our taste for romance, drama, and intrigue.

Your book is called ‘Looking for La La’ please could you tell me about it?

We got the inspiration from a postcard that was sent to our house several years ago.  It was from someone called La La, covered with lipstick kisses and proclaiming passionate love to my husband.  So of course my sister Lorraine and I borrowed the event for the first chapter of Looking For La La: a novel about a bored, unappreciated housewife and mother of two, Cathy, whose predictable world is turned upside-down by the arrival of a love postcard addressed to husband, Declan.  We had her investigating the mystery, full of joy at this unexpected excitement.  But her sleuthing just gets her deeper into all kinds of trouble, threatening her marriage, bringing surprising attention from a sexy artist, stirring up conflict with friends and fellow-mothers with secrets of their own and even – it turns out – inciting the wrath of a murderous opponent.   It’s a wild ride with a lot of humour and we had great fun writing it.

‘Looking for La La’ is based around a thirty something mother of two, please could you tell me about her?

Cathy is definitely on the ‘slummy-mummy’ end of the scale, disorganized, chaotic, the kind of person who runs around the house tidying up before the cleaning lady comes and then has to hide or leave the house because she feels so guilty about hiring help.  (Nothing like me, obviously!) Her second child has just started school and she has no idea how to go about returning to work, being nervous of new technology and victim of a terrible interview phobia. So she’s putting off the evil day as long as she can, the source of regular arguments with her husband.  Meanwhile she has a great bunch of friends: Raz, who lives in their attic: the Tuesday Twice Monthlies, fellow mothers who share riotous alcohol-fuelled evenings out.  She’s fiercely loyal and she genuinely loves Declan even if they bicker, especially as suspicions grow about his young new assistant. It has to be said Cathy is prone to misreading situations – not nearly the great sleuth she fondly imagines herself to be – and this combined with her impulsive, reactive personality gets her into a lot of hot water, often with comic results.

They say the journey to being published is one of the hardest an author can take, please can you describe the journey that you went on?

how to survive_2_4I began by going to creative writing classes as a form of escapism – I had three young children, all under the age of 4, and I needed to get away occasionally. I loved turning up to these classes, listening to all those fabulous writers, not really thinking I would ever particularly be one.  With encouragement though I began writing short stories, thrilled when I had my first one published in a UK weekly magazine.  From there on, I continued writing short stories, and small articles, mostly done in the short space of time while the children were at school or nursery.  When Lorraine settled in Colorado, we started writing a novel together.  It was a red-letter day when Caroline Hardman, our agent, agreed to take us on and even more exciting when Arrow Books wanted to publish How to Survive your Sisters and gave us a two-book contract.  There were a lot of firsts – it was our first novel, we were Caroline’s first clients and it was the first fiction acquisition by the editor at Arrow.  As everyone says finding an agent is incredibly challenging – we were lucky.

Are any of the characters in ‘Looking for La La’ anything like you?

Cathy, the narrator, is like me in some ways, in that I love going out with my female friends and just having a blast with them.  I don’t go out drinking as much as Cathy does though, (I wish!), and my children are a lot older.  I can however remember the days of not knowing what I wanted to do once the kids didn’t need me around so much and being terrified of the thought of returning to work. Saying all that, luckily I found my career path early on.

Writers put so much time and energy into their characters and I have been told in the past that a writer carries their characters around with them.

So my question is if you could go out for a day with any one of your characters: who would it be, what would you do and why did you pick this particular character?

In Looking for La La, it would have to be Cathy.  I would like to go the Spa she visits with her friend, Gabby, but unlike Gabby, (who went to sleep instead) would listen to her problems and talk some sense into her and tell her not to be so hard on herself and not to feel she has to be all things to all people all the time.

You write as a sister team, how did this come about?

When Good Friends Go BadLorraine started being published first, well she would, she’s older, ha.  But no really she worked for a literary agency, for the novelist Carol Smith.  Carol encouraged her to write.  When I began writing, I would never show anything to Lorraine, for fear she’d think it rubbish.  Obviously, though, once my work was in magazines I felt a lot more secure about sharing it.   After a while Lorraine and I began to email each other our stories, especially if we’d reached a sticking point and could use a bit of input.  When we both wanted to write a novel about our experience of being sisters, and particularly about our amazing mother, we decided to write it together. It was difficult at first, working out the logistics, but once we had the plot down on paper, we each picked a chapter or scene or character and just ran with it.  To be honest with all the rewrites and different versions we send back and forth, it’s hard even for us to tell who wrote what exactly.  It all streams into one.

What can we expect next, any future books in the pipeline?

Yes, we have just finished our fourth novel, Million Dollar Question, which is currently with our agent, Caroline Hardman at Hardman Swainson.  It follows the stories of two very different women, one in the States who loses her fantastic career, her wealth and her super-eligible fiancé, and the other, an impoverished divorced parent in the UK, who wins a million pounds, both events occurring on the same day.  They are connected in more ways than they know and eventually the two stories converge as each has to deal with the change of identity, issues of self-worth and all the challenges that come with such an extreme turn of fortunes

If there was one saying that could sum up your life, what would it be?

Don't worry, be happy !“Don’t worry, be happy.”  Having said that, although I’m basically a happy person, I have wasted so much time worrying about things that don’t happen.

If ‘Looking for La La’ was to be made into a film, who would you like to star in it?

I would say Eva Mendes (Cathy has a thing about her) but she’s far too feminine and pouty and it would be hard to see her as slobby, chaotic Cathy.  Perhaps Drew Barrymore or Renee Zellwegger – she was so amazing in Bridget Jones. Definitely Damien Lewis for Declan, Raz could be Charlize Theron, Belinda would be Melissa McCarthy, Henrietta would be played by Emily Watson with her pixie cut hairstyle and Rupert – Cathy’s love interest – would have absolutely to be Colin Farrell.  Or Johnny Depp.  I don’t know if they’re what we pictured exactly but if they were on the set, nothing on earth could keep Lorraine and I away.

Please could you tell us a bit about your writing process?

Well, it might sound as if writing in partnership is easy but really it has its pros and cons.  One good thing about Lorraine and me is that we are in some ways very alike in our thinking, sense of humour, even in our voices and use of words and expressions.  To the point that in our dating days it was impossible for both of us to shine.  If one was on form, telling stories, grabbing the attention, the other would automatically fall back and fade into the background rather than compete.  We don’t look at all identical – Lorraine is taller, I’m darker in hair and skin – but people often used to ask if we were twins.  So writing in the same voice isn’t as hard for us as it might be for other people.  Basically we work out a storyline – which evolves as we progress.  We decide who wants to write each character viewpoint, send the chapters over, the other rewrites as they feel fit, sends it back, the other edits and makes more changes, and back and forth like that several times.  By the time we’re finished, it’s very hard to remember who exactly wrote what.  Kind of like our childhood memories – we each claim that such-and-such an event happened to us – who poured the bowl of ice-cream over their head in a fit of childish excitement, who got into a stand-off with the neighbourhood bully.   The stories blend – and at the end of the day, well, it’s sort of annoying, someone else claiming ‘your’ past but it’s sort of wonderful too.   I guess it’s a sister thing.

I would like to thank Pam and Lorraine for taking the time to talk to I Heart Books!

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