Q & A: Perdita and Honor Cargill
Mother and daughter writing duo Perdita and Honor Cargill interview each other about what it was like to write their new book Waiting for Callback together.
We wrote Waiting for Callback together and we’re going to do this blog piece together too because it should never be forgotten that one of the great upsides to collaboration is that it halves the work load…
Because Elektra (our main character) is a drama girl we should probably set the scene. We’re at home, Perdita sitting like a human on the sofa, Honor perching precariously on the back of it, pressed so close to the gas fire that we can smell her singeing. We both have tea (made by Honor but only after coercion).
H: What has been your favourite thing about working with me? Take as long as you need to answer.
P: You make me laugh. Also you’re brilliant at dialogue and I doubt I’d have pulled off the teen voice credibly on my own.
H I did have to edit out ‘snogging’ a few times. Next question, what has been the most annoying thing about working with me? You can be quick on this one.
P: Easy. You can’t punctuate and you can’t spell and you ran away from the copy edits.
H: Fair. So what do you think makes a good collaboration and who do you think does it well?
P: Both really wanting to do it, respecting each other’s strengths and communicating well (I don’t mean people have to write side by side that would have finished us). In our genre a shared sense of humour helps. So you can tell that Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison (Lobsters and Never Evers) make each other laugh when they’re writing and another collaboration I read recently and really enjoyed was Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn. Writers and illustrators really impress me with their collaborations, for example the brilliant Violet books authored by Harriet Whitehorn wouldn’t be the same without the delicious Becka Moor illustrations. Neil Gaiman is the master collaborator whether with illustrators like Chris Riddell (The Graveyard Book) or other writers (Good Omens by Gaiman and Terry Pratchett is at the top of my to be read pile). I like how he writes about the process of collaboration ‘part of it is about having fun making something you couldn’t make on your own’.
H: I recognize that - neither of us think that we could have pulled this off without the other and if it hadn’t been fun we wouldn’t have finished it. It would have joined a long historic list of shared creative unfinished projects (mostly involving dried pasta).
P: What has been your favourite Waiting for Callback moment so far?
H: The cake. Some people may call me shallow (some people do) but I felt a deep emotional connection to that cake. The fact that it was accompanied by our offer from Simon & Schuster didn’t hurt.
P: And the worst moment or the hardest thing?
H: It would have been the copy edit stage but as we’ve already established I ducked that. There are evenings when I just want to curl up and watch trashy TV but I don’t because we’ve got a deadline to deliver the sequel by and it’s a real deadline because after that I’ve got A levels. Maybe I could pass off watching First Dates or Made in Chelsea as research?
P: I don’t see why not. We rewatched the whole of Gossip Girl last year using that excuse. Who was your favourite Waiting for Callback character to write? And you can’t have Eulalie (Elektra’s extravagant and slightly inappropriate step grandmother) because I’m having her.
H: Other than Elektra probably Moss (Elektra’s best friend). Tragically if you hadn’t added ‘to write’ I’d probably have said Archie. I’m more than a little bit in love with him. Fictional boyfriends are the way to go - especially if you write them yourself.
P: Are you excited about seeing Waiting for Callback on a bookshop shelf?
H: The first time I spot our book on a bookshop shelf will be a massive moment. I will probably photograph it and then casually leave it lying face up on one of the tables (I shouldn’t admit to that here should I?)…
Thank you for inviting us! Perdita & Hon
WINNER of the 2010 Cilip Carnegie Medal, the Newbery Medal and the Booktrust Teenage Book Prize 2009, and shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Award Stunningly illustrated by Chris Riddell, who brings the ghouls, ghosts and hero wonderfully to life in this fantastic ghost adventure story, laced with menace and humour
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