Two crazy ladies visit me today. Pam and Lorraine (writing as Ellie Campbell) give you their view of writing funny, really writing over-the-top funny. The book cover says it all:
What’s So Funny About Murder?
First, a confession. Murder really isn’t funny. At least I’d assume not. I haven’t ever been murdered. But I’m quite sure I wouldn’t be laughing if I were. As for committing one… Maybe once or twice I might have been a teensy tiny bit tempted. There’s a reason the police home in on the nearest and dearest as chief suspect, as anyone with a husband, sibling or writing partner understands. But killing always seems so difficult and messy and permanent. With a very good chance of feeling really bad about it later.
Besides I’m a pacifist (read ‘hopeless coward’). The kind of person who needs an impromptu bathroom break or sticks their sweater over their head just as the idiot hero decides to walk into that room…you know, the one with the bloodstains, the scary music and all the flies.
So why did I, I mean we – or rather Ellie Campbell – write a funny murder mystery like Looking For La La? As with so much, I blame my sister Pam. The postcard was mailed to her husband after all. Covered in lipstick kisses. Spouting words of love. ‘What a gift! A real live mystery dropped on her doormat. And as any good author would, she swallowed her breakfast toast, grabbed up the card and rushed up to the attic to switch on the laptop.
Anyway that scene – toast crumbs and all – became the opening chapter of Looking For La La, the first in our Crouch End Confidential series. In the book our London heroine Cathy O’Farrell is a scatty, harassed and hopelessly disorganized mother, bored to tears now her kids are at school yet terrified at the thought of job-seeking or facing her major phobia, the dreaded interview. Since this causes conflict with husband Declan the postcard is a welcome distraction – a blip of real excitement in her humdrum life.
But what starts as a fun light-hearted investigation with best friend Ram and fodder for drunken gossipy evenings with the Tuesday Twice Monthlies, (her ‘Mother’s Restaurant Research Group’), soon turns sour. Could Declan be cheating? Why does his simpering new assistant seem to have it in for Cathy? Why is everyone, including Ram, suddenly hiding secrets? There’s a red estate car around every corner, car tires being slashed, a fatal hit and run, and spooky things happening to Cathy’s milk bottles. As Cathy’s comical attempts to unravel the truth lead her to ever more desperate and crazy acts, the pulse-racing attentions of a young handsome artist only add fuel to the escalating arguments at home. And as if that weren’t enough she’s been saddled with the job of organizing the school’s Save The Toilets dance. Oh yes, and did I mention an insane killer is out for her blood?
Well, there are books out there with more gory killings and gruesome terrors. Honestly, if I was shivering while writing, it was probably from Colorado cold, not fear. But Pam and I love plot twists and intrigue as much as we love the absurdities of everyday life. We had lots of laughs, whizzing chapters back and forth across the Atlantic, adding to poor Cathy’s predicaments, wondering as hopelessly as she at times who La La would turn out to be, while including all those nuggets of wordly wisdom we’ve accumulated about the power struggles between husbands and wives in your average happy marriage. Perhaps death itself isn’t always funny but, hell, a good laugh takes the sting out of anything, doesn’t it? And as we found with Looking For La La, sometimes murder can be a heck of a lot of fun!
Ellie Campbell is a pseudonym for sisters, Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell who collaborate across the mighty Atlantic from their respective homes in Surrey, England and Colorado, USA, finding writing together a great excuse for endless phone conversations. Together they have written four novels How To Survive Your Sisters, When Good Friends Go Bad, Looking for La La and To Catch a Creeper. They love any chance to connect with their readers.
(Also in Audiobook)
Or you can read her and the rest of us funny gals in the boxed set.
The Boxed Set, still only 99c