Hello everyone! Today I am so pleased to welcome author Charlie Cochrane to the blog. Charlie is here to talk to us more about her new release, Awfully Glad. She has also brought a copy to give away to one lucky reader. Please join me in giving Charlie a big welcome!
At the moment I’m up to my oxters in paint and glue and small plastic parts. Maybe I’d better explain. Mr Cochrane bought me a Lancaster Bomber kit for Christmas (with all the necessary brushes, paint, etc) and now that my Christmas jigsaw is done, I’m working through it. I love Lancaster bombers. Have a painting of one, and a fridge magnet, and squealed with delight when one flew overhead last summer. One day I’d like to write something with dashing young WWII pilots and Kent airfields, but I worry it would end up too much like a pastiche of a John Mills/Michael Redgrave black and white film. I don’t have a sure ‘feel’ for the time and I suspect it would be too painful to acquire one.
Now, there’s always the argument that says that the past isn’t so different from now. People haven’t changed, not matter what people say about the (surely imaginary) “good old days”, when everyone was decent and honest. I’m sure Ham, Shem and Japhet probably cheated at Ludo to get one over on the old man. I was recently reading about two Irish forwards dumping a Welsh rugby player into the crowd during the game, leaving him with nasty injuries including a couple of fractured ribs. Back in 1999? No. 1899.
So human nature wouldn’t be any different back in WWII times (or indeed in WWI, which is an era I feel very comfortable writing in) so what makes it a challenge to write historicals? I’d say, to start with, that a lot of the challenge lies in the conscientious author’s head. If we didn’t care about getting things right, we could just plough on, putting the sound of Big Ben’s chimes into a Regency or letting our Victorian hero eat Jelly Babies, not checking dates and times and brands and all the other things which keep us awake at night. We have to remember to get our men to raise their hats to a lady, to dress for dinner and to use the right words.
There is also a cadence and a rhythm to language, which makes some historicals (be they novels, films or tv programmes) sound out of kilter. I’d say to any aspirant historical writer to read things from the era they’re looking at. Novels, newspapers, plays, anything to get a feel for the words and the way they were used. So why aren’t I doing that for my much thought about but never attempted WWII opus? Not because my “ear” has been sullied by black and white films. Many of those are contemporary, so they’re just the sort of thing I need. I suspect the problem runs deeper than that.
My dad fought in WWII. He was too young to sign up in 1939, so stayed in the TA until he was old enough. I don’t know a lot about the rest of his war service, as he was reluctant to talk about it, except that he fought out in Burma and wished he’d been in Europe. He’s been dead forty years and when my mother died a few years back I found among her things all sorts of memorabilia from those days. (They met when he was stationed in Newcastle.) I can hardly bear to look at them. Such private things, such deep emotions on show – to read them would be almost voyeuristic and, I suspect, that’s what’s keeping me from taking a serious look at the era. I’d keep coming up against things which would be too close to home, too evocative of people I loved and have now lost.
You write about things you know? Yes. But sometimes it’s too close to home.
WWI hero Sam Hines is used to wearing a face that isn’t his own. When he’s not in the trenches, he’s the most popular female impersonator on the front, but a mysterious note from an anonymous admirer leaves him worried. Everyone realizes—eventually—that Sam’s not a woman, but has somebody also worked out that he also prefers his lovers to be male?
When Sam meets—and falls for—fellow officer Johnny Browne after the war, he wonders whether he could be the man who wrote the note. If so, is he the answer to Sam’s dreams or just another predatory blackmailer, ready to profit from a love that dare not speak its name?
As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries.
Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series, set in Edwardian England, was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name.
She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, with titles published by Carina, Samhain, BSB, MLR and Cheyenne.
Charlie has brought a copy of Awfully Glad to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Tuesday, February 11th at 11:59 pm EST.
- By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
- Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
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- Void where prohibited by law.