About the authors:
Mel Campbell is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist, critic, copywriter and editor. Mel researches and writes about film and television, clothing and costume, books and ideas, media and consumer culture, and the wonderful, underrated banalities of everyday life. Her first book was Out of Shape: Debunking the Myths About Fashion and Fit (Affirm Press, 2013). She writes on film, TV and media at Junkee, The Big Issue, Crikey, Metro, The Guardian and more. She is currently a co-host of fortnightly culture podcast The Rereaders, a columnist on writing at Overland magazine, a lecturer in Monash University’s Masters of Communications and Media Studies program, and a commentator in live discussions on radio and online. She tweets at @incrediblemelk.
Anthony Morris is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist and critic. He’s been writing about and reviewing film for over 20 years. Anthony is currently the Film Editor at Forte magazine, and the Small Screen Editor at The Big Issue. He also writes regularly for Empire magazine, SBS Online, Broadsheet and Junkee, and in the past his work has appeared in venues as varied as Kill Your Darlings, The Lifted Brow, Eureka Street and Network Video News. His short fiction has appeared in Interzone, Aurealis and Eidolon.
Let’s start with the two of you. You write together. The Hot Guy was released in 2017, and now your latest novel Nailed it! is out. Can you tell us about the writing process and how two people write one book?
“Our process is really more like an extended conversation than anything else – we started writing together because we liked telling each other stupid stories and making each other laugh. We’re both film critics so we’d often end up making fun of the bad movies we’d just seen, and so when we decided to write a novel we just started doing that in front of a computer.
Our work gets its energy from being written with the two of us in the same room. Usually one person is typing and the other is throwing out ideas, and we often act out the dialogue ourselves. We work well together because we have complementary strengths – Mel is much more about getting the details right and bringing the settings to life, while Anthony is usually focused on the big picture and coming up with lines of dialogue.
Do you ever argue about what goes into a book, and what doesn’t?
“We’re usually roughly on the same page, but Mel can be a little too quick to dive down research rabbit holes while Anthony constantly pitches awful jokes that would never see the light of day. Mel now knows far too much about what the inside of a TV show’s make-up trailer would look like and the proper technique for laying down marine plywood on a boat deck, while Anthony is still disappointed we never got to include the reality show I Married a Bum, where a woman marries a man entirely for his astonishing rear end.
Nailed it! is described as a contemporary rom com that hilariously and lovingly exposes the unreality of reality TV. Can you tell us more?
“We wanted to tell a story about reality TV from a perspective you don’t usually get, and we were always interested in those brief glimpses of tradies you’d see in the background of scenes. Who were these people? How much were they responsible for what we’d see on camera? Did they interact with the contestants? And what would happen if a contestant fell in love with one of them?
We also wanted to write a book with a more down-to-earth protagonist than our last novel. Rose is very different from us – she’s sensible, she’s practical, her skills are hands-on, she’s got her head on straight. To be honest, we’re much more like her ditzy parents, which is why they’re the focus of a lot of the harshest jokes.
Rose’s story is about how she finds love while working in the background of a reality television show, which isn’t the best place to find love – the contestants are being filmed 24/7, the show is increasingly resorting to stunts to boost ratings, and the hunky contestant she’s falling for is already taken. Or at least, that’s what the show wants you to think…
Will you continue writing together and if so, what are you working on next?
“Hopefully so – we’ve really enjoyed writing romantic comedies, and we’re already working on our next book. But we’ve also got a few other ideas – Mel really wants to write a YA series where psychic teens find love in a world that hates and fears them, while Anthony’s latest manuscript is currently titled YOU GO DIE NOW.
Then again, we may just do the spin-off featuring “Thirsty” Kirsty from our first novel The Hot Guy, titled The Girl With the Flagon Tattoo.
Favourite reality TV show?
“For Mel it’s Grand Designs – she loves watching rich people failing at something. Anthony saw way too much of the last season of Married At First Sight, but also really liked the first season of reality show drama Unreal.
Who answered these questions?
“We both did! We’re currently sitting at one of our favourite writing cafes arguing about whether Anthony’s jokes really are that dumb (they’re not – Anthony).