Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Double Whammy! Interviewing twins!

And now for something completely different...
Shaman's Drum CoversCancel Christmas

Today I'm thrilled - not to mention confused - to be interviewing an author who writes as twins Ailsa Abraham and Cameron Lawton, who have their own genres and bicker constantly on Facebook. They share a blog and nobody is quite sure if they really are two people or one disturbed personality...

Hi Ailsa and Cameron!

Hi Linda thanks for inviting us. Great to be here.

We'll be finding out more about the genres you write in a bit later, but to start with I was wondering what you like to read? Has anyone particularly inspired you?


Ailsa grew up reading fantasy which is probably why she writes her genre. Alan Garner, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis are probably her inspiration. Cameron was a Biggle freak and also the Viking saga by Henry Treece. We're both history crazy so any well-researched historical novels, Mary Renault for example are snapped up.  Also Terry Pratchett – just to die for!

 
Do you have a hero or heroine? (Fictional or real!)
 
Cameron – Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean. How anyone can wear THAT eye make-up, camp it up like that and not come over as gay is beyond me. I WANT that look! I'd love to have written a character like that but my guys are very in the closet.
Ailsa - (rolling her eyes) Nanny Ogg in Terry Pratchett's witches stories. She is as close to a practical witch like me as I've ever read. She's down-to-earth and doesn't hold with all Magrat's fancy paraphernalia bought from the esoteric shops. That's so great. People have very weird ideas about witchcraft and shamanism. If you but realised, there are probably practicing witches in your community but you may never notice them.
Speaking of that sort of thing... Do you have any rituals when writing? Some people need a certain pen, a particular sort of paper, complete silence...
 
We swap between propped up on the bed with the laptop or sitting at OUR desk on the desktop. That started after an operation when Ailsa had to keep her feet up for some weeks and found that a very comfy position.
As far as silence – yes! Can't have the radio or TV playing although there is certain music, instrumental that is very conducive. Shaman's Drum was written exclusively to Era playing on a loop on the headphones.  Even when we go on holiday in the caravan, usually down to Spain or over to Germany, the laptop comes too and it isn't a break from writing. I think we get more writing done then, sitting under the awning, very pleasant.
Oh and there must be an endless supply of freshly-brewed coffee and (guilty blush) cigarettes for us to work properly.
 
We writers all seem to have an inner Demon or a gremlin on our shoulder telling us we're rubbish. What does yours look like - do you know? How do you shut them up?
 
I think mainly for us it's our characters. They tend to peer at what we're writing and say “I wouldn't do that!”. For Ailsa the main demon is the one who sneers “Fantasy eh? Floaty girls dancing in the moonlight is it? Or hunky hero and completely made-up world, like dungeons and dragons eh?” Because that is soooo not what I write. My stuff is based on solid, practical experience of shamanism and paganism, I just set it in the future to accommodate the fact that these had become the “mainstream religions” of the day.
 
Cameron – whenever I doubt my abilities, usually when I read some of the awesome work my fellow-authors over at MLRP write, I remember when I got my first book published and our gorgeous Scottish auntie who is over 80 was explaining to a bunch of her friends in an Edinburgh tearoom. They're all a bit deaf so she found herself shouting at the top of her voice, “I said, dear, that Cameron's now writing pornography.... for homosexuals;” And I want to die because I don't; I write murder mystery and detective fiction where the two main characters just happen to be gay men. They're superb at their job and have to hide their relationship at work. But if you saw the same situation on any TV series with a heterosexual couple, you wouldn't turn a hair. Sure, my guys have sex, they're in love … who wouldn't?  Even Ailsa's couple in Shaman's Drum get it on a few times, maybe not so graphically but they do! 
Ailsa (laughing) yes, but even then you had to write the sex scenes for me and from the male point of view!
 
So, you help each other out - are the two of you also competitive about writing?
 
No. We are very supportive. We advertise each other's work and we share a blog where we post about our life at home and applaud when one of us has a success. No – we're twins and the only competetive thing we've ever suffered from is …. boyfriends! Oh and clothes!  
Cameron – that's true. She has crap taste in men – I'm trying to improve her dress sense but ..(eyeroll) silk purses and sow's ears etc.
Ailsa – yes, Bro – and you fall in love faster than an avalanche down a mountainside! Oh and we steal each other's fragrances regularly which causes much bitterness on Facebook. The War of the Aftershave ran for weeks (giggle).


 
Do you have a favourite word or phrase?
(A & C exchange glances) Yes, most of them extremely vulgar. Ailsa's husband is ex-Navy and uses “colourful language” all the time but he's really inventive with it and has us rocking with laughter.
Ailsa - There are so many, though.  I think “f**ktard” is my favourite insult at the moment.
Cameron – one expression? One that my older character, Rory, uses a lot because he is just so crazy about his lover, Jack. “What did I ever do to get this lucky?”
 
A word or phrase that makes your skin creep because you loathe it so much?

Ailsa – ones that I overuse in my first drafts “and then” is the worst.
Cameron – clichés! “Hot guy” is my pet hate at the moment – describe him!
 
 
What makes you smile?
Loads of things – we are very easily amused and moved. Animals particularly, and a beautiful view, we're lucky to have lots of those around here. Unexpected kindnesses from people, especially our friends on the internet. We're very isolated here and so our net-pals are very important to us and a compliment or caring remark can make our day!
 
You live in France. I assume you speak French well! Do you find yourself dreaming in French? ( I spent 2 weeks on the French Exchange aged 14 and found myself dreaming in French. I still occasionally dream in French, although I suspect most of it is made-up words that sound French!)
 
Well (slight blush) we got here by accident and didn't speak a word of French, apart from bonjour, café and s'il vous plait. But being here we learned very quickly and worked in jobs where nobody else spoke English which is the best way. Now we're bilingual and that is a bind because we forget words in our native language.

Cameron – yes, I'll be in the middle of writing and have to ask Ailsa's husband, in French, what the English is for … (goes very red)

Ailsa – I dream in French and I've noticed that when I'm out and about talking French to people, my personality changes completely. I'm normally very forthright and almost “butch”

(Cameron sniggers). But in French I become a typical, flirty, kissie-wissie, French lady doing all the shrugs and boff!s and getting in far closer to people's personal space than I'd ever do with Brits or Americans.

Cameron – you should see it! She gets positively fluffy and fluttery. Makes me hoot!
 
Coffee or tea? ( I should probably have offered you this right at the start!)
 
Both and gallons of it!  The morning always starts with tea as we are true Brits. We still have to go to the UK to buy it. The rest of the day it is ground coffee which is very much cheaper here.
 
Red wine or white?

Either. Ailsa is not drinking alcohol at the moment to raise money for Cancer Research in memory of Dad who died of stomach cancer aged only 38. But obviously being in the land of l'heure apero, it's great to sit outside in the fresh air and have a glass of wine before dinner. We're lucky to live in a wine-producing area, there is even an AOC for our little town up the road. A good robust red is great for a treat when we finish writing for the day but a very dry, chilled white is great for a pick-me up apero around 5.30.
 
Somehow, I'd feel bad drinking at 5.30 - I guess it just isn't the same if you're not in France!
Here's another irrelevant one: cheese or chocolate?

Cheese every time. Now you're going to say, of course, you're in France but we really do miss  British cheese a lot. Favourite dessert for both of us is fresh fruit or dates with blue cheese.

Summer or winter?
 
(Loud laughter) Neither. We love the Spring and Autumn. Summer it gets waaaaaaaaay too hot here and it's very difficult to motivate oneself. Winter here is usually not so bad, we get snow every year and it's a dry cold. Not like Brittany where we used to live, which was like Cornwall where we grew up – not cold but very damp and foggy. Utterly miserable. The spring and autumn we adore for the change in Nature around us. We're very much country kids.
 
You two are great fun! How can we find you and keep in touch?
 
Right here!
http://cameron-writes.blogspot.fr/2013/01/write-of-passage.html Joint blog
http://www.cameron-lawton.com/2013/01/lokis-curse.html
http://ailsaabraham.com/
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17213216-shaman-s-drum
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16233162-cancel-Christmas



You can also find us both on Facebook and Twitter under our names.

 Thanks so much for having us – is there any more coffee, please? We'll wash up!


 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Red wine or white?

Either. Ailsa is not drinking alcohol at the moment to raise money for Cancer Research in memory of Dad who died of stomach cancer aged only 38. But obviously being in the land of l'heure apero, it's great to sit outside in the fresh air and have a glass of wine before dinner. We're lucky to live in a wine-producing area, there is even an AOC for our little town up the road. A good robust red is great for a treat when we finish writing for the day but a very dry, chilled white is great for a pick-me up apero around 5.30.
 
Somehow, I'd feel bad drinking at 5.30 - I guess it just isn't the same if you're not in France!
Here's another irrelevant one: cheese or chocolate?

Cheese every time. Now you're going to say, of course, you're in France but we really do miss  British cheese a lot. Favourite dessert for both of us is fresh fruit or dates with blue cheese.

Summer or winter?
 
(loud laughter) Neither. We love the Spring and Autumn. Summer it gets waaaaaaaaay too hot here and it's very difficult to motivate oneself. Winter here is usually not so bad, we get snow every year and it's a dry cold. Not like Brittany where we used to live, which was like Cornwall where we grew up – not cold but very damp and foggy. Utterly miserable. The spring and autumn we adore for the change in Nature around us. We're very much country kids.
 

 
 
 

 
 
 




 

 


 
 







 
 

 
 

 

 
 
 

 

 
 

 



 
 
 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 



 








6 comments:

Annalisa Crawford said...

Great interview, Linda.

I'm impressed with the discipline a writer needs to write 2 different genres. And I'd have no problem drinking wine at 5.30 :-)

Francene Stanley said...

Well. That was an interview with a difference. Good one.

L.G. Smith said...

LOL. I think I love them both.

Lisa Shambrook said...

Great interview, always enjoy hearing from these two!

farawayeyes said...

That was...ah..er...em...interesting. The picture of the two confusing. The entire post VERY entertaining.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

They look so much alike!

Seriously though, what an excellent way to market different genres. It just feels more comfortable to me as a reader than knowing the author is really a person with a different name. How creative!