Today I'm delighted to be able to welcome Ellie Campbell to talk about her latest book Looking for La La. But who is Ellie Campbell?
are Lorraine Campbell and Pam Burks, two sisters separated by
the Atlantic Ocean. We didn’t exactly set out to write together. Both
of us were already established short story writers before all those long
telephone conversations led to Ellie Campbell. We are equally
passionate about writing, travel, horses, dogs, the outdoors, and
although Pam now lives in Reigate, not far from London, with a husband,
three children and a dog, while Lorraine is on a small Colorado ranch
near wild and wonderful Boulder with husband, three horses, five cats,
one dog and four chickens - we both believe in enjoying life to the
fullest, be it digging up carrots in the allotment, listening to
audiobooks while scooping manure in the corrals or going on a trail ride
in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.
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.
An extract of the first two chapters can be read here. To find out more, why not visit:
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