A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

Why do we write in our genre? by Perdita Cargill

A simple question?

I should probably have paused before I agreed to blog about why Honor and I decided to write in the genre that we do because if I’m honest there never was a conscious decision. We fell into writing, we never had that moment where we talked about what we might write or how it might sit in the market. It all just happened.

The Waiting for Callback books are contemporary, funny, teen fiction. They follow the adventures (mostly misadventures) of fifteen-year-old Elektra James as she tries to make it in the world of professional acting. Honor had dipped her toe into the mad world of child acting and we used to joke when she was very young, maybe only twelve or thirteen, that it would make a good backdrop for a fun novel – instead of overnight success we would write about embarrassment and failure and make it funny (it was very often funny). And then one summer when Honor was about fifteen and very bored on holiday we started writing it. We made each other laugh and then we got stubborn and decided to see it through. We had no idea about ‘genres’ or market’ – we could probably have told you it was contemporary, but after that we’d just have shrugged. I’m glad it happened like that. We wrote the book we wanted to write together without ever second-guessing and it worked out fine. If we’d started to analyse the market or look at other books that might be ‘competitors’ in ‘our genre’ we’d probably have freaked ourselves out and gone back to the swimming pool. Not just because it’s exposing and difficult to write comedy (it really is) but because – much though I’d love to say we were filling some aching hole in the market – there is lots of great funny, contemporary writing out there – Katy Birchall, Tom Easton, Jenny McLachlan, Beth Garrod, Marianne Levy, Holly Smale of course and so many more (I’m going to post this and then agonise about all the brilliant authors I haven’t mentioned!). And the genre has problems. No question, funny can get patronised – I can’t tell you how often we get asked when we’re going to “move on” to writing something serious. Does it matter? Well, a bit. We are always super grateful when people get behind the books because you have to be quite brave to champion a funny, light, book. More importantly, we’re a bit concerned that young writers will get put off writing funny material at school because it’s not ‘deep’ or ‘important’ enough. There can be an embarrassment about enjoying, far less, writing, funny fiction. We’re thinking hard about what we can do to encourage the next generation – they’re the ones that need the prizes, watch this space… On the other hand, funny contemporary is a joy to write. And Honor always said that if our books could make one kid feel better after a bad day at school, she’d be happy. If we can cheer kids up with our writing and encourage them to write their own funny stories, then we’ll be doing OK.



Perdita Cargill


The Waiting for Callback series is published by Simon & Schuster.



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.


The Waiting for Callback series is published by Simon and Schuster.


This entry was posted on June 14, 2017 by and tagged , , , , .

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