Writing Kids' Books
with Perdita and Honor Cargill

Writing Kids' Books - Perdita and Honor Cargill

Mother and daughter Perdita and Honor Cargill join us for a Q&A on writing kids' books. They are the talented co-authors behind hilarious young adult series, Waiting for Callback published by Simon and Schuster.

We're eagerly awaiting the third instalment in the series, It's A Wrap, which is published on 31st May 2018.

Writing Kids' Books: Had you ever tried to write anything together before Waiting for Callback?

If we don’t count all the mad stories we used to make up together as part of ordinary growing up stuff (there were some pretty rogue long-running sagas being made up in our kitchen!) then Waiting for Callback (Casting Queen) was the first.

WKB: Where do you most like to write?

Honor: Apart! Seriously, we’re not good when we have to work in the same room, we get on each other’s nerves. I’m at Uni now so we email backward and forwards a lot. I do love writing in cafes but anywhere near a biscuit and a kettle is fine.

Perdita: I like to write at the top of the house so I’m less distracted by all the other stuff I’m meant to be doing. Also, it’s nice and cold – I like that when I’m writing.

WKB: You’ve written three books in the Waiting for Callback series. Do you have an established system for working together?

Writing Kids' Books - Waiting for Callback

We do. We always chat and gossip a lot. We’re not great pre-planners (our books change a lot as they go) but we do know our characters really well and we talk about them as if they were real.

We’ll agree on where, for example, the opening chapters are going and then ‘bagsie’ bits to start writing, peel away and when we’ve got the words on paper, email each other. A lot of our writing happens in re-writing, we rewrite different scenes so often we end by barely knowing which of us had the first stab at them. It’s a bit chaotic, it takes quite a lot of time but it’s exciting and stimulating and it works for us.

WKB: How much planning had you done for the Waiting for Callback series before you started writing the first book?

Perdita: Not sure it deserves to be called planning but we’d chatted about it for a couple of years. We first had the idea when Honor was only about twelve (and was doing a tiny bit of professional acting), but we didn’t start properly writing them until she was fifteen/sixteen. 

Honor: It worked better that way – more of an equal partnership, if we’d started any younger it would have felt very mother/daughter-y…

Writing Kids' Books: Your dialogue is brilliantly witty. Do you have any tips for writing dialogue that you can share?

Thank you! That is the loveliest thing to say. 

Honor: I’m dyslexic and that’s probably why I love writing dialogue so much. I read a lot of plays when I was younger – not just when I was acting in them but generally, because I found the format easier. And I learned a lot from watching and listening – and yes, that does include a lot of TV…

Perdita: I let Honor take the lead on dialogue. I quite often leave square brackets with the message “convo between X & Y here”. That’s a bit because the teen voice if obviously easier for her to get right, but mostly because she’s better at it than me. 

WKB: Which has been the easiest book of the series to write?

We’ve mulled this over and honestly, no book is easy to write! In some ways, the first because there was less pressure and all we had to do was the writing, not the other authoring.

But we both prefer the later books – It’s A Wrap is our favourite and it was the hardest!

Writing Kids' Books: What do you most enjoy about being authors?

The writing. No question. We have so much fun with it and hopefully that comes across. But seeing your writing turned into real books is a massive thrill!

WKB: Has anything about being authors taken you by surprise?

Each book in the series has got a little bit older. It’s all getting a bit more real for Elektra. She’s got a film coming out, she’s got a real relationship (with ups and downs), her parents are very supportive (but also quite annoying). But she’s in a movie – isn’t that the dream? Sort of… except there’s a lot of pressure.

Elektra spends a lot of It’s A Wrap panicking about Raw coming out – it’s a scary count down - everyone is saying it’s going to be awful, it’s super exposing and if it flops will she ever work again? And she’s expected to promote it and herself (brand Elektra) and she finds that PAINFUL. You’ll see how Elektra’s adventures with social media play out… Plus, remember, she’s in school and EXAMS are looming…  Like we said, pressure. But also funny – hopefully our funniest!

Writing Kids' Books: Our website is called WritingNV.com In that spirit can you tell us if there are any writers who make you green with envy?

Ha! Sooooooo many.

Even if we just think about authors writing funny teen in the UK right now, it’s a long list! Beth Garrod, Marianne Levy, Chloe Seagar, Tom Easton, Simon James Green, Katy Birchall, Jenny McLachlan… We could go on!

Thank you for having us!  Perdita and Honor xx

Many thanks to Perdita and Honor for joining us. You can pre-order It's A Wrap through The Big Green Bookshop for signed copy and a chance to win a prize here or through Hive, Waterstones, Amazon or your other favourite retailers.

You can learn more about Perdita and Honor on their website www.waitingforcallback.com

Read more inspiring interviews...

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·        Lorraine Cannell, author of Hollow

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