Ever Been Attacked By Belligerent Bovines? We have! (Yes, both of us.) You can find out more in this interview with Laurie Jenkins…
Laurie Jenkins: Tell us about your current release.
We’ve just published Looking For La La as our third Ellie Campbell novel, available from Amazon.com as an ebook and in print. Cathy is a bored, unappreciated housewife and mother of two, whose humdrum life is thrown into turmoil when she starts investigating strange postcards that arrive proclaiming passionate love for her husband. The funny thing is that it was inspired by real events – someone did send love postcards to Pam’s husband, Ian – we assume as a joke. The rest is fiction though. It was a great lead-in to a funny novel about motherhood, female friendships, the fragility of trust, and the temptations of flattering attention when your marriage has gone slightly stale. Oh yes, and there’s a stalker and possible murderer too. Luckily all of that came from our rampant imaginations.
What was your first sale as an author?
Pam: Chat, a UK weekly women’s magazine. It was a short story that I wrote called “The Cat that Got the Cream”. A tale of revenge. I was so thrilled when the editor rang me up. She gave me her home address to send future stories to, which thrilled me even more. I spoke to a friend of mine, who was a journalist and told him about it. He said that it’s not your first published piece that makes you a writer. It’s the second. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that at the time. But when I sold my second story, I really felt I was on the way. And that it wasn’t just a fluke.
Does your significant other read your stuff?
Pam: My husband read How to Survive your Sisters and really enjoyed it. He is not one for reading novels though, especially women’s novels, so I was just pleased he managed to finish it. He hasn’t read any of the others and very few of the short stories I have written. I don’t push it. I sometimes feel that if he began criticizing my writing, I’d probably be censoring myself all the time. I mean I don’t hide the fact that I’m writing or having books published (far from it), but at the same time I’m not shoving the books in his face, saying read this read this. You will love it. Lorraine’s husband is the same. He read Sisters, he’s immensely proud of her writing but he’s a bit of a workaholic and rarely has time or inclination to read.
What was the scariest moment of your life?
Lorraine: OK, this is going to sound completely crazy but we have both been the victim of belligerent bovines. When we were kids, playing in the Isle of Skye, our neighbor’s docile cow decided suddenly to charge us. I didn’t move fast enough and next thing her horn had scraped all the way up my back and I was dangling in the air caught by my sweater before getting flung to the ground. I was terrified of cows that whole summer but my schoolfriends thought it was the funniest thing they’d ever heard. Especially when I innocently told them the cow’s name was Horny – because she had horns of course. I think I was the only one to miss the joke.
Pam: My cow tossing story was rather different. I was backpacking around India and just leaving a bus. This big white Brahmin bull, with huge horns walked past as I was about to alight. Next thing I knew, somehow, my jacket had got caught on his horns and he wandered down the road with me lying on top of him. He didn’t panic luckily (not like me stuck on top of him) and after a few hundred yards, he kind of shook his head and my jacket came loose. I landed with a thud on the ground.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Pam: A cowboy or cowgirl, but really a cowboy. Lorraine and I both had very short hair – our mother always cut our hair herself, I think she really did use a bowl and cut round it. Anyway we were both tomboys, climbing trees, playing soccer and wrestling with the boys, and I loved it when people thought that I was a boy too. Lorraine and I used to have imaginary horses and would gallop around the streets of Edinburgh, neighing and whinnying. But our careers councilor didn’t think cowboying was a very practical choice.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Lorraine: I spend time with my three horses. My Arabian gelding was a gift from a friend of mine who had a bad whiplash injury and could no longer ride. My two mares I bought at the end of a livestock auction when I discovered they were about to go off in the killer truck, headed for a slaughterhouse in Texas. I paid a little more than the killer price and then had the rather daunting task of explaining to my husband that we’d just acquired two new members of the family. Actually they were young and healthy and I figured I could always find them a good home. Well, I did – mine.
Pam: My allotment. I share it with a friend of mine. We call each other up, check that we’re both free, wave our families goodbye and then flasks under our arm we head to our little spot. We have a table and we chat and drink coffee and eat biscuits. And it’s in a beautiful location, just near a park, so there’s a lake nearby. Sometimes we see the swans or the geese flying overhead. The evenings are the best, where our fellow plot holders have bonfires. Oh and we do occasionally weed and plant vegetables but that’s only a small part of the thing.
Have you attended a high school reunion? What did you learn?
Lorraine: I went to one of mine. It was a riot. Everyone seemed to have a different idea of high school than me. I discovered some of my peers used to smoke pot with our teachers… no wonder those slackers got great grades! Some had taken their quirks and mannerisms to a whole new level – if they were fidgety before, they were totally twitchy now. I was standing beside my former best friend when an ex-boyfriend asked if she ever heard from me. She pointed to me and he said no, I meant Lorraine, the little Scottish girl. So much for everyone saying I hadn’t changed. It came in useful when we featured a high school reunion in When Good Friends Go Bad. It was amazing how writing that scene took us both back to those days and the feelings we had at that age.
How do you react to a bad review of your book?
Pam: Well, luckily, so far from magazines and publications the reviews have mostly been positive. But it doesn’t matter if it’s just a negative response on Amazon or a publisher rejecting your novel – it hurts. You have to tell yourself not everyone likes the same things. Lorraine and I don’t always love the same books. My father-in-law once picked up a copy of Bridget Jones Diary somebody had left on the train and couldn’t understand why anyone would bother reading it. Why would he? It was so not about him and his life or values or anything. Only thing I’d say is if you don’t finish a novel, don’t criticize it. At least go the whole way with it and so you can give a full and honest opinion.
What would we find under your bed?
Pam: Shoe boxes, dust, old socks. My husband has a sock drawer his side of the bed, which is raided by the whole family. That’s five of us digging in there each morning. He keeps protesting that they’re his socks and we are all to leave them alone. But he is ignored. I own the spare sock bag and with so many socks floating around the place, it is a major job putting them all together. I also have a pile of newspapers that I am never going to read, because I never have time. But I like to think I can. Every now and again, I get the whole lot and fling them out.
Lorraine: Most likely my cats. And a lot of dust bunnies. Maybe some old Kleenex. I’m scared to look under there actually.
Do you have a Website or Blog?
Yes, we didn’t like our old website so we just jumped on wordpress design tools and created ourselves a new one – http://www.chicklitsisters.com. We have a blog on there too. It’s definitely a work in progress, we’re just adding content at the moment but we’d love you to drop by and comment if you feel like it.