Celebrate The Differences
by Ellie Campbell
We are two sisters (Lorraine Campbell and Pam Burks) who write together under one name, Ellie Campbell. So for the sake of our sanity – and the book in progress – we’ve got to agree on a lot of things. Who’s going to write what, which way the plot should go, whether the character we’re particularly fond of should be cut completely. Something must be working – we’ve just published our fifth novel, Million Dollar Question. But perhaps it’s the differences that add that extra spark…
What’s on your writing desk – coffee or tea?
Lorraine: Coffee. I was, am and always will be a tea drinker. Mum used to bring it to us in bed, loaded with milk and sugar. But since I moved to America I can’t start the day without a cup of coffee. I take it with me when I go to feed the horses and I have an endless pot brewing when I’m writing. Might also have something to do with the horrible weak teabags and microwaved lukewarm water that they serve up in restaurants over here – that’s enough to convert anyone.
Pam: Tea – I find it more refreshing and you don’t get that aftertaste. I take my mug into my attic office and settle down to work. I do drink coffee, but it’s more of a treat. Stopping in at Starbucks when I’m done for the day. And worst thing is I always need a biscuit with coffee, which is not good for my waistline ☺
Kindle or paperback book?
Lorraine: Kindle because I can read it in bed without my husband ordering me to switch off the light – even a book-light bothers his beauty sleep. Also it’s a great way to catch up on other authors’ works or support fellow indie authors with their free or 99 cent promotions. Although I might then order a book I’ve read in paperback if it’s a keeper. I do miss being able to flip through pages. And I’m always afraid of dropping my Kindle in the bath.
Pam: Paperbacks. I love flicking forward and back rather than doing a Kindle search. I like being able to hold them in my hand, leave them on the side of the bed to remind me. Also I like bookmarking pages, underlining great lines. I guess you can do in that in Kindle too but it’s easier with a pen and honestly, how often do you go back to reread a Kindle book, let alone check for bookmarks.
Favorite viewpoint – First Person or Third Person?
Lorraine: Third person. I love writing first person stories but as a writing duo I find third person works so much better. Three of our books have multi-character POVs and it’s easy for Pam and I to decide which ones we want to take on and get started on developing them – at least in the initial writing stages, although everything quickly gets blended as chapters go back and forth. Also first person can find me wallowing in introspection and reflection and I’m always looking to get out of the character’s head and into the action as much as possible. Third person adds that extra emotional distance and allows more objectivity.
Pam: First person. Because it’s so personal and when it’s done right, the reader really feels she gets to know the narrator in an intimate way – or better yet that she is the narrator. Besides which we had so much fun writing our madcap narrator, Cathy, the lead character in Looking For La La and To Catch A Creeper, that we are now working on a third novel featuring her attempts at sleuthing and her crazy bunch of friends.
Favorite writing time – early bird or night owl?
Lorraine: Early bird – now. I was always a night owl until I married an early bird. In my single London days I used to love to write till 1 or 2 in the morning with a glass of whisky, imagining myself some inspired artist, like Ernest Hemingway. Now I have my best energy in the morning. I pop out of bed at dawn, just as the sun comes up over nearby Haystack Mountain, knowing the horses are waiting at the gate for breakfast. At night I barely have just enough spit left to check Facebook while I’m half-watching TV.
Pam: I’m still a night owl. With all the demands on my time – job, husband, family, email, book promotions – it’s often the only chance I get to do some actual writing done. Although lately I’ve been going to bed early and waking up late, what does that call me? A night bird?
Favorite Genre – Comedy or Mystery?
Lorraine: Tough choice. I love both. However when I think of my favorite novels or movies, the ones that makes me feel good are often funny, like Bridget Jones’s Diary or anything by Sophie Kinsella. And I don’t like things too dark and scary. If I’m watching a really suspenseful film I’ll often have to leave the room or stick my sweater over my head because I can’t stand the dread and anticipation when the music turns eerie and ominous. I’ve got more squeamish over the years – I absolutely hate watching people getting bludgeoned or women getting chased.
Pam: I’ll go for mystery, comedy mystery preferred. I love novels with twists and turns and although we’re writing chicklit, some kind of mystery always seems to sneak into our books. Like Lorraine though I’m not keen on too much graphic detail. I have a vivid imagination and I don’t want to end up locking my doors and listening out for noises in the night.
What inspires you most – books or movies?
Lorraine: Books. I get totally addicted when I’ve found a good book. I can’t put it down, become totally anti-social, can’t focus on anything but finishing it. Also when I read a book I wish I’d written, it really motivates me to get to my computer and work. I enjoy movies too but half the time when I go to the cinema I’m disappointed and when I watch them at home, unless it’s truly gripping, I get distracted by checking Facebook or folding laundry and realize I’ve missed half the plot.
Pam: I’m going to go for movies especially when I’m writing a first draft. When I’m deep in writing, it’s too distracting to get caught up in someone else’s style and story. Whereas watching a good movie gets me thinking afterwards and might spark a new idea. Not that books don’t inspire me too and I devour them whenever I get the chance or in the later stages of editing.
Favorite computer – PC or Mac?
Lorraine: Mac all the way. I can’t remember ever being as excited over a PC as I was over my first Macbook. They’re so easy to use. They have all these clever little tricks (not that I know most of them). And Apple have their own cunning ways of keeping you loyal. I never did figure out how to get my iTunes music onto my Droid X so of course I have an iPhone now. And I listen to all my Audible books on it.
Pam: PC – only because I’ve never used a Mac. I find it hard enough getting round all the new programs on my PC. I’m too long in the tooth to change.
Ellie Campbell is the author name for two sisters, Lorraine Campbell and Pam Burks, who write together collaborating by phone and email from Surrey, UK and Colorado, USA. Their latest novel, Million Dollar Question, is out now.