Perdita & Honor Cargill: authors of Waiting for Callback

24 Feb

Everyone has a story. Mum and daughter writing duo Perdita & Honor Cargill, who live in Barnsbury, launched their funny first novel for teenagers in February – just a fortnight before the sequel was due to be delivered. So how did they do it? Plus a chance to WIN A FREE COPY of their book. Interview by Nicola Baird


Honor Cargill and Perdita Cargill – the Barnsbury-based daughter/mother author combo – signing their first book, “Waiting For Callback” at the book’s launch. It’s a fun YA read, and you can win a free copy (see how at the end of this interview).

Perdita and Honor take it in turns to finish each other’s sentences – an unusually warm piece of mum and daughter behaviour. Meeting them in Euphorium café at Islington Green it’s clear there is much love, respect and good humour in the way they do this, though it presents challenging interview conditions. However it also helps explain how the pair have managed to write a book together without a single page screaming “this must be the mum speaking” or “this must be the teenager”. This achievement is even more remarkable as this is Mum Perdita’s first novel – she used to work as a tax barrister, while 17-year-old Honor admits to being dyslexic as well as busy studying for A levels in history, economics and politics.

It's hard to miss Blighty Cafe.

It’s hard to miss Blighty Cafe.

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“I used to enjoy drama so much at the Young Actors Theatre and then I did castings, and it led to so many humiliating and stupid things happening. We used to say someone should write a book about it,” says Honor, who like her mum is dressed in mostly black and white (she points out two dark blue details which look black to Islington Faces). Perdita continues: “It was a joke, something we gossiped and laughed about, and then we wrote some scenes when we were on holiday…”

“We had no idea what we were were doing so we sent it to the Literary Consultancy and they passed it to be read by an agent, Hannah Sheppard at DHH Literary Agency who loved it,” adds Perdita. Throughout the interview she laughs about herself as a typical North London mum, despite growing up in the fishing port of Mallaig on the north west coast of Scotland.

Not long after the agent got them a two-book deal – thanks partly to the pair being sent a cake with an iced message from publishers Simon Schuster that they were “waiting for our callback”.

7411f5d2-39f3-48b5-a091-37c7e9b3f91cThe novel’s funny: with lots of incidents revolving around the main character Elektra (who may have brown hair, but isn’t Honor) going to castings.

“We didn’t want it to be preachy. We wanted it to be funny,” begins Perdita. Honor adds: “It’s a relaxing book to enjoy after a bad day at school. Instead of doing three history essays you can curl up with this novel…” “We hope it will be read on the beach and cheer up the reader who’ll tell their friends that it’s good fun,” continues Perdita.

On the day Islington Faces interviewed Honor & Perdita Cargill about their new novel "Waiting for Callback," which charts a young actor's audition mishaps, just a street away this auditioning note was stuck to a bollard. Only in Islington!

On the day Islington Faces interviewed Honor & Perdita Cargill about their new novel “Waiting for Callback,” which charts a young actor’s audition mishaps, just a street away this auditioning note was stuck to a bollard. Only in Islington!

Places mum Perdita (P) & 17-year-old Honor (H) like going in Islington

  • H: I love Camden Passage! I’m obsessed with the chocolates at Paul Young. (P) We used to go into Annie’s Vintage for a dressing up treat and try on the hats. There’s always something new in Camden Passage – that’s both good and bad for the shops but it’s an interesting walk. (H) I really like going to the Breakfast Club with my friends.
  • P: I’m excited by King’s Cross. I walk most places and can now cut through Central St Martin’s (art school) smelling the coffee ground at Caravan. (H) I like the shiney new Waitrose.
  • In 1961 South African John Wright decided London needed its own marionette* (string puppet) theatre. The spot they choose was an old temperance hall damaged during World War Two when St Mary’s church, Upper Street was hit by a bomb causing roof debris to crash on to its neighbours.

    In 1961 South African John Wright decided London needed its own marionette* (string puppet) theatre, now known as the Angel Puppet Theatre. The spot they choose was an old temperance hall damaged during World War Two when St Mary’s church, Upper Street was hit by a bomb causing roof debris to crash on to its neighbours.

    H: I love the vibe around Islington Green. It’s so busy and buzzy with a great Waterstones.

  • P:   Euphorium Café near Highbury Corner is where I didn’t write the book! I went there every day to read the paper. H: I like to drink a lot of tea, but there’s insanely good ice cream at Udderlicious. And opposite is a really pretty patisserie.
  • P: We have family dinners at Pho – Vietnamese street food. (H) I love the fish and chip shops on Upper Street and we do spend a lot of time in Pizza Express.
  • P: I’m going to miss Diverse – it’s moving to Tufnell Park.
  • H: Ink@84, the new bookshop at Highbury, is really beautiful. I had a very nice cup of tea and I like the way they mix things on the shelves. (P) and the girl behind the till does stand up comedy.
  • H: I enjoyed the Young Actors Theatre on Barnsbury Road so much. I went there from the time I was seven to 14 and only stopped as I didn’t have time and it was a long way from my school so I was always late. It taught me so much about professional acting. (P) And you really liked the Little Angel Puppet Theatre too. (H) I still act, but I just do it at school. I’m Lady Sneerwell, the crazy one, in School for Scandal.

It’s clear that this mother-daughter pair were really close before they began writing the book – but the process of creating it seems to have brought them a touch tighter. “We discuss the plot, gossip about it and then we write specific scenes at home. I like writing dialogue (Honor) and I do square brackets then email it to her if there’s a massive bit of dialogue needed. We don’t sit together to write. She’s in the attic (Perdita). I’m in the kitchen (Honor) on laptops,” they say together.

Iced cookies at the book launch of Honor & Perdita Cargill's Waiting for Callback.

Iced cookies at the book launch of Honor & Perdita Cargill’s “Waiting for Callback”.

With the sequel of Waiting for Callback due to be delivered in February – ready for publication in early 2017 – it’s no surprise that Perdita and Honor relished their book launch at Daunts on Marylebone High Street. Publishing is still a new game for them – both are still marvelling over the amount of cake it has involved including cute promo iced cookies of the book jacket – even if they are close to the end of Elektra’s second series of acting adventures.

That said, the joy the pair clearly feel seeing a window of their books at Waterstones Islington, or copies at Ink@84 in Highbury, doesn’t mask the fact that writing young adult fiction as a pair involves a lot of typing, editing and the power to resist trashy TV and Netflix binges. Very few of us can manage this sort of cheery discipline, let alone a London teenager and her mum. But best of all their novel’s a lot of fun and an inspiration for any parents who aren’t quite so good at getting along with their own children or are thinking of putting their daughter on the stage.

7411f5d2-39f3-48b5-a091-37c7e9b3f91cGIVE AWAY – If you’d like a signed copy of Waiting for Callback please write on Islington Faces (eg, the comment box at the bottom of this article) or on Nicola Baird’s Facebook writer page the name of Honor and Perdita Cargill’s fabulous funny novel and your email. This offer is only open to UK and Isle of Man residents. COMPETITION closes on 7 March (midnight).

Over to you
If you’d like to nominate someone to be interviewed who grew up, lives or works in Islington, or suggest yourself, please let me know, via at Thank you.

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This blog is inspired by Spitalfields Life written by the Gentle Author.

If you enjoyed this post you might like to look at the A-Z  index, or search Meet Islingtonians to find friends, neighbours and inspiration. Thanks for stopping by. Nicola



3 Responses to “Perdita & Honor Cargill: authors of Waiting for Callback”

  1. Chas Gilbert February 25, 2016 at 8:13 pm #

    Competiton answer “Waiting For Callback”

    • nicola baird blogs February 25, 2016 at 8:48 pm #

      The first entry to the comp! congratulations, hope you are the lucky one – all the entries go into the hat though after 7 March. Nicola

  2. nicola baird blogs February 29, 2016 at 4:42 pm #

    At the 29 feb islington meet up we had another entry for this competition at Blighty Cafe – Ursula Yates, who wrote ‘Waiting for Callback’.

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