Today I am so pleased to welcome Charlie Cochrane to Joyfully Jay. Charlie has come as part of Opposites Attract Week to talk to us about her latest release, In The Spotlight. She has also brought along a copy to contribute to our big giveaway, along with a backlist book! Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Positive and negative ions. North and south poles of magnets. Opposites attract in science but do they in life? For me, the answer to that is a resounding yes, no and maybe.
You might say that male and female is a natural example of opposites attracting, but that argument quickly flounders. Some men are attracted to men, some women to women, and some people are attracted to both. And isn’t it a bit old fashioned (not to say blinkered) to say that men and women are opposites? I get really cross when people make huge sweeping statements about one gender or the other, like “women prefer buying shoes to watching sport”. Certain women – and certain men – maybe, but not all.
Some couples (of whatever gender combination) certainly physically contrast with each other. There’s a wonderful British tradition of saucy seaside postcards which usually depicted a short, thin man being hitched to an opulently plump lady. How often have we seen pairs like that, or couples who have a great age difference, or come from different races? Is that a case of opposites attracting or are we being too sweeping again? Are people fascinated by something in their partner which is different from them, the lure of the unknown, ( and in the case of Romeo and Juliet the forbidden) or is it simply a case of two individuals who fall in love with each other, irrespective of similarities or differences? I can certainly think of some same sex couples who are almost identical to each other in both appearance and character, so the rule doesn’t hold for everyone.
It seems like I’m shooting all the arguments down in flames, but I know from my own family that there are very different people happily paired. Loud, outgoing folk with quiet, introspective ones; supporters of Welsh rugby with supporters of the England team (and my goodness you can’t get further apart in outlook than that!) Mr C and I are a case of an incorrigible optimist quite at home with a pessimist – but we have enough in common to overcome any differences in outlook. And to overcome the fact that he shouts for Scotland while I shout for England.
In fiction, the “opposites attract” theme is very popular among readers. Just about the first review I ever received was for the Cambridge Fellows books, which features in Jonty and Orlando a classic case of a pair of lovers who are like chalk and cheese in both appearance and character. The reviewer said how much they enjoyed this particular combination. “It’s fun to follow their struggle to understand each other and to make sense of the building attraction between them.” With my reading hat on, that first part certainly strikes a chord. It’s rewarding to read about the journey two people go on together and how they reach a mutually perceptive relationship. And it’s fun for an author, too, because one can use the differences to spark off all sorts of bits of drama. (One of the most memorable fanfiction challenges I ever saw featured pairings drawn out of a hat, the most ludicrous sets of romantic couples emerging. But it worked, as writers used all their wits to make these ridiculous pairings work beautifully.)
I guess that last bit’s the key, at least in writing stories. If an author presents a contrasting pair falling deeply in love then the storyline has to be convincing. In “All That Jazz” I have a star of musical theatre with a penchant for cross dressing falling for a butch amateur rugby player, and I’ve tried to avoid any clichés in the way I’ve tackled (excuse rugby pun) the relationship. Ultimately, Francis and Tommy have to be true to themselves and their personalities, rather than being shoehorned into situations just to satisfy a trope.
So, by all means let’s have opposites attracting in books as in life. But not in every instance and not as a cliché.
In the Spotlight – two stories by Charlie Cochrane
All That Jazz
Francis Yardley may be the high kicking star of an all-male version of Chicago, but bitter, and on the booze after the breakdown of a relationship, he thinks that the chance for true love has passed him by. A handsome, shy rugby player called Tommy seems to be the answer to his problems, but Tommy doesn’t like the lipstick and lace. Can they find a way forward and is there still a chance for happiness “nowadays”?
If Music Be
Rick Cowley finds himself taking up am-dram once more, thinking it’ll help him get over the death of his partner. He’d never anticipated it would mean an encounter with an old flame and the sort of emotional complications the Bard would have revelled in. Still, old Will had the right word for every situation, didn’t he?
As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Romances, mysteries, sometimes historical and occasionally hysterical. Rumours that she has written about weresloths are true.
Charlie’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, and regularly appears with The Deadly Dames.
Charlie has brought an ebook from her backlist to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Tuesday, April 11 at 11:59 pm EST.
She has also brought a copy of In the Spotlight as part of our big Opposites Attract giveaway, so stop by for that and lots of other great prizes!
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