Recently, Swanky Seventeener Rosalyn Eves chatted with mother-daughter writing duo, Perdita and Honor Cargill, about their new YA contemporary, WAITING FOR CALLBACK ( Simon & Schuster, 28 January 2016).
About the Book:
When Elektra is discovered by an acting agent, she imagines Oscar glory can’t be far away, but instead lurches from one cringe-worthy moment to the next. Just how many times can you be rejected for the part of ‘Dead Girl Number Three’ without losing hope? Off-stage things aren’t going well either – she’s fallen out with her best friend, remains firmly in the friend-zone with her crush and her parents are driving her crazy. One way or another, Elektra’s life is now spent waiting for the phone to ring – waiting for callback.
Can an average girl-next-door like Elektra really make it in the world of luvvies and starlets?
About the Authors
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
Rosalyn: I love that you’ve written this book as a mother-daughter team. How did that come about? At what point did you decide that this was a book you wanted to write together? What has been your favorite part of working together?
Perdita: It was a joint project before it was as real project if that makes sense! Hon did a bit (a very little bit) of professional acting and we used to joke about how we’d write a book together
about all the funny things that happened. Add to that the fact that when you’re on holiday with your parents as an only child there’s not much to do… We started writing it, it was a lot of fun and as Hon got older she took over more and more (dialogue is her happy place and there’s now a lot of dialogue!). I think that the best bit is just sharing all the excitement – getting an agent, getting a publisher, launch day all huge moments made more special because we shared them.
Rosalyn: What is your collaboration process like? What did the process of drafting and revising this book look like?
Perdita and Honor: Ha! Everyone wants to know this. We think that everyone secretly thinks we bickered the whole way through… I suspect that the reason we didn’t is because we don’t work side by side or even in the same room very often. Of course we plot together (usually in the kitchen with snacks & tea) but then we write separately and hand or email scenes to each other that we then edit extensively. We swap and we comment and we overwrite until (hopefully) the seams don’t show.
Rosalyn: How did you find your agent/editor for this book?
Perdita and Honor: When we were a decent amount in we sent our manuscript to The Literary Consultancy and they passed it to Hannah Sheppard for review. She liked it and luckily for us she was an agent at DHH Literary Agency and she signed us up. It was brilliant matchmaking. We were lucky enough to have interest from a number of publishers but we had a great meeting with lots of members of the Simon & Schuster Kids UK team and when they offered us a pre-empt we were thrilled to accept. Our editor there is Jane Griffiths, she is extraordinary and really pushed us to give her more.
Rosalyn: What kind of research did you do for Elektra’s character? I know some of it was inspired by Honor’s experience acting, but beyond that, how did you approach the role? What was the most interesting thing you learned about the life of an actor?
Perdita and Honor: So we were writing about a world that we knew well so there wasn’t much research to do. Also we had friends in that world and they read for us to make sure there were no howlers (although we’d have put the story before strict reality). What is interesting is that, like lots of closed worlds, it has its own vocabulary – ‘sides’ and ‘hot spots’ and ‘apple boxes’, we got
used to it all.
1. Music to Write by
P: recently relaxing classics because the run up to publication is stressful when you’ve got a sequel deadline.
H: a big theme in Waiting for Callback is resilience so I’m going to go with Taylor Swift and Shake it Off!
2. A favorite author–and why you love them.
P: Austen for sure and I don’t think I even need to explain.
H: P.G. Wodehouse, consistently funny with the best similes.
3. Oddest job you ever had.
P: er…I was a tax barrister for years even though I can’t do maths.
H: Haven’t been trusted with very many but I am a really poor babysitter…
4. Favorite writing snack.
The cake our publishers sent to us with our offer of course!
5. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?
P: Italy. It makes me happy and relaxed and well, pasta.
H: New York – I love the city, I love the energy.
6. Favorite part of being a debut author?
At this moment of launch just a huge feeling of achievement – if our book makes its readers smile and feel happy then we’ll have done what we set out to do.
About the Interviewer:
Rosalyn Eves is a writer of romantic, lyrical, atmospheric young adult fantasy novels. Her first novel, THE BLOOD ROSE REBELLION, a historical fantasy set at the height of the Austro-Hungarian empire (with magic!) debuts Spring 2017 from Knopf/Random House.
In an alternate 19th-century Europe, after 16-year-old British gentlewoman Anna Arden is exiled to Hungary for spell-breaking, she finds that nothing about her world or her own lack of magic is quite as it seems. Fissures in the Binding that holds her world’s magic are expanding, and the ancient creatures bound by that spell beg Anna to release them. As rebellion sweeps across Hungary, Anna’s unique ability to break spells becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and gypsies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted—or embrace her ability, destroy the Binding, spark a revolution, and change the face of magic itself.