A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Emma Carroll: In your authors’ bios you say Honor has had a little bit of acting experience. So how much of the book is based on real life and how much is completely fictional?
H: I am definitely not Elektra! Apart from anything else there is no Archie in my life (which is a tragedy). But it’s not possible to experience the professional child acting world even in a small way without thinking woah this is weird and funny too. A few of the acting things that happened to Elektra are close to things that I saw or that happened to me but it’s more that those events triggered our imaginations so that it was easy to come up with Elektra’s own very personal series of humiliations. Some of Elektra’s mum’s neuroses are strangely familiar to me…
P: I would say that Hon is closest to Elektra when it comes to Elektra’s habit of losing everything – especially her mobile. I’m pretty sure I added in some of those lines in pure frustration. I vehemently deny that I am anything like Elektra’s ’s mum…
I LOVED Elektra’s voice. She’s so sassy and self-deprecating she just leaps off the page! Did she come to you first as a character, or her story?
P: I think the idea for the story came first but only in the most vague way – it only became a STORY when we started to talk about Elektra together as if she were a real person.
H: We did want Elektra to be self-deprecating though and pretty resilient because if she wasn’t laughing at her own disasters they wouldn’t be the same sort of funny.
People must be intrigued as to how you write a novel alongside someone else. How did you do it? What’s an average writing day for you both?
H: Probably by not being ‘alongside’ each other! We plot together but write in different rooms (as far away as possible) and then we email each other first drafts and get stuck in critically (really stuck in). But we do talk endlessly about the story and our characters.
P: Average writing days are different holiday to term. In the holidays we can both spend hours writing at home or on holiday but roughly in sync. During term time it has to be different. So take today. I’ve been sitting upstairs working at the computer (ok, not always working there have been way too many twitter breaks). In the meantime Hon has been wrestling two scenes in between lessons. We’ll swap and chat at 4.30 (there will be cake).
A question for Honor – getting your first book deal is pretty amazing at any age, especially when you’re 17. How did your peers react to it? What do your teachers think?
H: I only told my close friends at first because it would have sounded like I was bigging myself up – also there was a bit of me that didn’t believe it and thought it might disappear overnight. My close friends were lovely although they all laughed at me when I was writing the romantic bits. Now the news is getting out and people are being so nice about it. My teachers probably think that they have discovered the reason for every single late essay and missed sports lesson in the last eighteen months (to be fair they’re right about the sports lessons).
It was brilliant the way each chapter started with a quote from famous actors. Who are your favourite all time actors and why?
P: I’m quite fickle. Other than the screen heroes of my much loved black and white films (Gregory Peck, Cary Grant) my favourite is whichever actor I liked best in the last film I saw.
H: At the risk of sounding like a real drama geek (which I am) I’d say that seeing great actors like Rory Kinnear and Janet McTeer on stage has had the biggest impression on me. Then there’s a whole list of actors that are just ridiculously fit but that’s a different question (Chuck Bass I’m looking at you *sorry Ed Westwick but you’ll always be Chuck to me).
Who do you think your book will appeal to?
H&P: Readers that like funny books hopefully! Drama geeks will get some extra moments of recognition but hopefully Elektra is sufficiently relateable that her many trials on and off stage will have a wider audience. We’d love this to be a book that cheers up teen readers after a bad day at school.
How do you plan to celebrate Waiting for Callback’s book birthday?
P&H: We’re having a launch party on the eve of publication in beautiful Daunt Books on Marylebone. Is it too embarrassing to admit that on publication day we just want to go to a bookshop and find our book on a shelf? (Also for Hon double politics followed by double economics…)
What’s next for Elektra? Beyond that what’s next for the Cargills? Any big ambitions you’d like to share…?
P&H: We are deep into the sequel now, which is just as well as the deadline is getting close. Book 2 picks up from where Waiting for Callback ends with lots of the same characters so it is nearly impossible to talk about it without spoilers. Beyond that? Well Uni for Hon and we’re planning to carry on collaborating on writing because it’s so much fun.
Thank you so much for interviewing us. It was a lovely birthday present!
Perdita: I used to be the least numerate tax barrister ever to practise at the English bar but now I’m writing at last and it’s the best ‘job’ in the world – not least because I’m writing funny teen books with my daughter.
Honor: I’m 17, I’m in my last year at school doing A levels and yes, weirdly, I’m co-writing funny teen books with my mum and having so much fun with it. I used to do a bit of acting (mostly school but a tiny bit professional) and although Elektra, our main character, is nothing like me, I suppose that’s where the germ of the idea for Waiting for Callback came from.
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Emma Carroll writes MG fiction. Her debut ‘Frost Hollow Hall’, a Victorian ghost story, won the North East Book Award 2013 and was longlisted for the Branford Boase. Her second novel ‘The Girl Who Walked On Air’ has been nominated for the CILIP medal. Her latest book ‘In Darkling Wood’ is inspired by the Cottingley Fairies photographs, and publishes with Faber in July 2015. In another life she wishes she’d written ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier. Emma lives in the Somerset hills with her husband and two terriers.