Our chat with Perdita and Honor Cargill…
Perdita: I always wanted to write but I didn’t grow up believing it would be possible. Other than a few stories in exercise books when I was young (there was a strange spy novel period), I didn’t start trying to write until I was nearly fifty. And the first novel I wrote was stolen – that would be a sadder story were it not for the fact that it was probably a bit dull (heavy).
Honor: I always told stories, I loved stories but because I was dyslexic I didn’t believe I could do it. Like Elektra, I was crazy about acting when I was younger and there were a few years when I was caught up (in a tiny way) in the mad world of professional acting. That was when we imagined the Waiting for Callback stories – putting the comic misadventures and fails at the heart of the stories. We started writing one holiday when I was about fifteen – largely because I was bored and moany! By the time we got home we’d written too much to stop…
Perdita: They are fun – questions are the best bit, you never know what’s coming.
Perdita: maybe Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield? I still love it; it’s got strong women in it and real hard work. It was a big influence on our books. I can’t say what my favourite is now because I’m reading books all the time and I’m in constant awe of how much great stuff is out there for children at the moment.
Honor: I’m going to go with any book by P.G. Wodehouse - because of the dyslexia I “read” them by audio, which one hundred percent counts (thank you, especially Martin Jarvis). I found them hilarious. I still find them hilarious. He was a genius and is probably responsible for my deep love of pigs. Now I spend my time reading Tacitus (gripping but I admit, fewer laughs).
Honor: I was in sixth form when we signed our publishing deal. It was a mad opportunity but I knew I had to get through exams because I wanted to go to Uni and it would have been mad to pin everything on the books. We had to work around exams and terms as much as we could – I remember getting edits from our publishers the day after my last AS level! I’m at Oxford now and the terms are short but really intense so, again, I try and work around it, prioritising Uni during term, writing in the holidays. It can feel like a lot but most of my friends are working in the holidays too – I know I’m very lucky.
Perdita: I used to work as a barrister but don’t anymore. I’d love to say that means I have the perfect author life but real life throws up challenges at every age and there have been a lot of them in the last couple of years. Like most authors, I muddle through – some weeks are more productive than others. And I always try to remember that you never know what people have on their plates behind the scenes.