I would like to thank Charlie Cochrane for stopping by PBA today to chat about her most recently release Horns & Haloes, available now from MLR Press (review is forthcoming).
You recently released Horns and Haloes. What can you tell us about it?
CC: Horns and Haloes is about two blokes who meet on a training course, one that starts on February 14th, only to discover that they both have something in common. They hate Valentine’s Day. Jamie falls for Alex like a ton of bricks, but isn’t sure the feeling will be reciprocated. He couldn’t be lucky enough for such a great looking guy to turn out to be gay. And if he is, then there’s no chance he’ll fancy Jamie, will he? And just what is Alex’s problem with Valentines?
B: What part of a new story comes to you first? Characters? Plot? A scene? A theme? Or does it vary from book to book?
CC: There is no rhyme or reason to it. I sometimes just have a character and a setting (like Jamie in Horns and Haloes) then I see what develops. For other books, I’ve maybe just had a setting, such as a WWI trench, although for the latest WIP I actually had a whole story arc come into my head. Needless to say, when I started to write it, the main crux of the tale became something entirely different!
B: What authors, inside and outside of the m/m genre, do you most admire?
CC: How long have I got? Inside m/m I admire Alex Beecroft, Elin Gregory, Tamara Allen, JL Merrow…the list goes on and on. They all have a neat turn of phrase, although their styles are different, and an economy of language. I really dislike reading rambling prose. They can all display a rather nifty sense of humour (particularly Jamie), which is something I like in all writers. Jerome K Jerome, Len Tyler, Christopher Fowler: all of them make me laugh out loud.
I also admire efficient characterization, so Patrick O’Brian has to be on my “top writers” list, as does Mary Renault. Both of them create characters which are entirely believable and highly engaging. And Ms Renault could say more in one sentence – sometimes in one word – than most authors can in a page!
B: From where did the inspiration for Horns and Haloes come?
CC: Horns and Haloes was inspired a training course I delivered. Now, that makes it sound as though my training courses are full of fit young gay men flirting with each other, so I’d better put a bit of context in. I do some freelance training for school governors and one of the courses I run is Selection and Interviewing. Feelings can run pretty high when you get people with different views and aspirations in a room – I remember driving home one day and thinking, “What would happen if those feelings got channeled into romance?”
B: Which, if any, characteristic of Jamie or Alex do you see most in yourself?
CC: Like both the lads, I think that Valentine’s Day can be a bit overhyped. It puts a lot of unnecessary stress on youngsters, especially when they never get any cards. Been there, done that, in my formative years. I also sympathise with their frustrations at dinosaurian school governors!
B: What is your favorite way to relax?
CC: Watching sport on the telly is the best way to relax (I may just have rugby on TV as I type this!) I also like a nice, long, scaldingly hot bath, with a good book or a number puzzle to do. Outdoors, I like going for walks, especially at the seaside, visiting museums and historic sites, and going to the theatre. I’ve been lucky enough to see some remarkable performances, like Yul Brynner as the king in The Kings and I, David Tennant as Hamlet and Dustin Hoffman as Shylock.
B: Did you have a playlist for this story?
CC: I’ve never really had a playlist for a story, although sometimes I have songs almost on a continual loop when I write, as it helps me to concentrate. I remember having Mas Que Nada (the Sergio Mendes version) on a lot when I was working on Horns and Haloes. In fact, at the time, I kept listening to a whole load of songs from a CD for football supporters. Nessun Dorma, The Great Escape, the Dam Busters, World Cup Willie…they were the soundtrack to my drafts and edits. I’m surprised I didn’t end up writing something terribly martial and patriotic!
B: What’s the best thing you’ve ever had someone say about one of your books in an email or review?
CC: That my story made them think long after they finished reading.
B: What’s next for Charlie?
CC: I’ve got another school governors related story coming out in November, although this one’s a romantic cosy mystery. I’m working on a couple of contemporary short stories and I guess I should get on with the next Cambridge Fellows story, as they’re my most popular characters.
B: Where can readers find you on the web?
Blurb for Horns and Haloes:
Why do you do when finding a new boyfriend is like conducting a job interview?
It’s Jamie’s idea of torture—a training course about selection and interviewing and on February the fourteenth! Everybody’s going to be full of romance and he’ll be playing gooseberry as usual. When Jamie finds himself sitting next to the gorgeous Alex, who seems to hate the day as much as Jamie does, will he turn out to be the ideal candidate for the vacant position of boyfriend?
One lucky commenter will win their own copy of Horns & Haloes.
Contest ends 20 Feb 2014 @ 11:50pm CST
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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