Review & Interview: 'Looking for La La' by Ellie Campbell (2014)
In a recent survey 65% of mothers admitted feeling undervalued, over-criticised and constantly tired.
Cathy is no exception. Her dull, uneventful days as a stay at home, mother of two, are radically transformed however with the arrival of a heavily lipsticked postcard addressed to husband, Declan. Who is the mysterious La La? Could Declan really be having an affair? And is Cathy actually being stalked?
Whatever – it will definitely prove riveting gossip for the Tuesday Twice Monthlies, Cathy’s 'Mothers Restaurant Research’ group where scandal flows as recklessly as the wine. But what starts as a light-hearted investigation with best friend Raz, soon turns into something much more sinister.
With a possible murderer on the scene, a sexy admirer igniting long-forgotten sparks, and all her friends hiding secrets, it’s not only Cathy’s marriage that’s in jeopardy. Add in the scheming antics of Declan’s new assistant, the stress of organising the school Save The Toilet’s dance and the stage is set for a dangerous showdown and some very unsettling, possibly deadly, revelations.
A few weeks ago I was contacted with a review request for Ellie Campbell’s new novel ‘Looking for La La.’ I had already seen several messages on Twitter and within the book blogging world about this book and have to admit I was quite curious! Ellie Campbell is actually a pseudonym for Pam and Lorraine, two sisters who write novels together, and ‘Looking for La La’ is slightly based on Pam’s own experiences of her husband receiving anonymous postcards. I’ve also had the chance to interview Lorraine and Pam about their work, writing in general, and their plans for the future, so make sure you also check out the author interview below!
Housewife Cathy is getting a bit bored with her dull life as a stay-at-home mum. However, her life is suddenly shaken up a bit when her husband Declan starts receiving strange anonymous postcards from someone who calls themselves ‘La La.’ At first, Cathy is thrilled with the excitement and decides to investigate together with her best friend Raz. Soon, though, things get tricky as Cathy discovers she has her own secret admirer to deal with, her friends are hiding all kinds of secrets from one another, and the relationship between Cathy and Declan starts to tense up more and more…
This book was quite a whirlwind, but a pleasant one! While the story starts off with Cathy living the life of an average stay-at-home mum, as soon as a bit of spice is added in the form of these postcards from the unknown La La, everything is turned upside down and all kinds of things start to happen. One of the most wonderful things about the novel was that the authors managed to keep me guessing until the very last pages; I had no idea what was going to happen and I was really surprised by some of the twists and turns in the book. While the story might perhaps here and there be a bit too fast-paced to some readers, I did really enjoy that it was different and fun.
I’m not quite sure whether I really fell in love with the heroine of the novel, Cathy, but she was certainly entertaining and I got caught up in her story. Both the primary and secondary characters in the book were worked out very realistically; all of them were flawed in their own personal ways and especially the bitchy side of Cathy’s friends made me laugh out loud several times. I wouldn’t necessarily say this book is 100% chick lit, but more of an interesting mix of chick lit, a bit of women’s fiction, and a touch of mystery/detective novel. As a whole, ‘Looking for La La’ is a fast-paced and quirky read, filled with lots of entertaining moments and twists and turns you will not see coming!
Thanks to the author for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Author Interview with Ellie Campbell
I'm delighted to have Pam and Lorraine, a.k.a. Ellie Campbell, on the blog today for an author interview in which they tell us more about their book 'Looking for La La', their plans for the future and their career as authors!
Can you tell us something about your new novel, ‘Looking for La La’?
Looking For La La is the story of a bored frazzled mother-of-two who is initially excited when someone mails a love postcard to her husband. As she enlists her best friend in a quest to discover the sender, secrets are exposed, suspicions rife, romance kindled and she ends up putting her marriage, her friendships and even her life in jeopardy. It’s a humorous mystery and at the same time a look at that limbo stage in a woman’s life when her kids have returned to school, her marriage is well past the honeymoon stage and she’s suffering the frustrations of not quite knowing what her new role should be.
Where did you find the inspiration for ‘Looking for La La’? Is it in any way based on your own personal experiences?
Actually Pam’s husband did receive an almost identical postcard and they never did find out who sent it. But instead of driving herself crazy the way our heroine Cathy does, Pam laughed it off and decided it would be a great opening scene for our latest book. Plus she well remembers how bonded she and her girlfriends were in the days when they were all at-home mothers and children ruled their lives. However, the postcard is the limit of actual events we used. There were no murderers in our neighbourhood. (Or if there were, we weren’t involved in them.)
Which character in the novel did you most enjoy writing about and why?
Well, Cathy was a lot of fun to write because while she has a lot of good qualities she’s not exactly the perfect wife or mother – she’s scatty, impulsive, sometimes jealous, often childish in good and bad ways and she gets up to some crazy antics. But her neighbour Zena was also a favourite – a prissy, eccentric clean-freak with terrible dress sense.
What is it like to write as a duo? How did the two of you decide to start writing novels together?
We began by showing each other our short stories just for interest…which turned into sending stuff we felt needed some critical advice or a little help…which led to us deciding to write a book together – mainly because we both wanted to write about the sister thing and include some of our childhood memories and our mother’s stories. We could hardly have two similar books using the same material to so we decided to co-write ‘How to Survive Your Sisters’. It’s fun, challenging but mainly it removes the lonely aspect of being a writer. We get constant feedback and can be quite put out if one of us writes a bit we think is brilliant and the other doesn’t rush to email us back and compliment it. Well, maybe I’m not entirely serious there but it is nice to have someone to share the load.
Can you perhaps tell us something about your future plans as an author? Are you already working on a next novel?
Well, yes, funny you should ask. We actually have a lot going on. The sequel to ‘Looking for La La’ entitled ‘To Catch A Creeper’ is about to be published on March 24th this year. We also have our fifth novel Million Dollar Question in the final editing stages and we are working on a third in the Crouch End Confidential Mystery series which is based on Cathy, the main character in ‘Looking For La La’ and ‘To Catch A Creeper’. We’re hoping even more books about her sleuthing skills will follow.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Above all, sit down and write. Many people think they have a novel in them but never get past the dreaming stage. There’s much to be said for writing what you know about, what interests you, or what you yourself would love to read rather than what you think will sell. Don’t waste creative energy discussing your ideas with others and don’t let people discourage you. Enjoy the amazing changes the internet has brought to book publishing. It’s never been easier to self-publish and find readers. But keep your standards high. If you put your ebook up on Amazon, you’re responsible for the final product and at the end of the day people still get annoyed with typos and sloppy writing and don’t hesitate to show it with those killer one star reviews. Finally, a great cover is your best publicist. (That’s a lot, isn’t it? Sounds very bossy.)
What is the last book you read that you’d like to recommend to others?
Lorraine: I really enjoyed ‘The Affair’ by Colette Freedman. A friend gifted me a copy when I was in Los Angeles recently and I read it all on the plane on the way home. The story is written from the point of view of three different characters in a love triangle, starting with the wife, then the husband and then the mistress. I liked the way there weren’t any blanket villains in the scenario, just ordinary people dealing with age-old issues and human weaknesses.
Pam: ‘Yours Truly’ by Kirsty Greenwood. It was such fun and made me laugh out loud quite a few times. Well done to her.
Which book could you not live without?
Lorraine: OK, I’m going to try really hard not to say Pride and Prejudice although I know it almost by heart and pick The Famous Five by Enid Blyton. Even though I haven’t seen a copy for years and they are kind of laughable, Blyton’s adventure series were the easily accessible novels that got me into reading at a very young age and made it an essential part of my life. From there I became a total bookworm and went on to Swallows and Amazons, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe… I get chills just thinking of those childhood friends.
Pam: I have always loved Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. It had everything – adventure, pirates, buried treasure, a talking parrot, Long John Silver. It was the perfect novel , inspired me into wanting a life of adventure and I always used to think of it when Lorraine was off sailing around the Caribbean. So jealous.
And last but not least, if you had to describe ‘Looking for La La’ in just three words, which words would you pick?