Friday, May 6, 2011

Guest Blogger Charlie Cochrane

I am pleased to announce today that my guest is author Charlie Cochrane, and that I  persuaded her to take my infamous Rick Reed questions. Charlie, have a seat on my virtual sofa, while I get the tea.

There, much better. Now, let's see a little bit into the mind of Charlie Cochrane, shall we?

The Questions
1)      You’re marooned on a small island with one person and one item of your choice—who is that person and what item do you have?
Has to be a computer, with internet access and endless power source. A) so I can keep in touch and B) so I can watch the rugby.  Person? My middle daughter, as no-one could get glum or pessimistic with her around.

2)      Which musical would you say best exemplifies your life – and which character in that musical are you?
I’m trying to think of a musical in which a child from a working class family ends up going to a really posh university (and struggling to put a name to one.)  I’d be the working class kid!

3)      Take these three words and give me a 100 word or less scenario using them:  ketchup, jetting, infrequently
Assuming I’ve understood the question, here’s a scene with a modern day Jonty and Orlando:
“You’re away again this weekend?”
“Afraid so. Work.”
Orlando snorted. “Work? You do that so infrequently I’m amazed you still recognize it. Where are you jetting off to this time?”
Cardiff. By train, so I can mark essays en route.” Jonty grimaced.
Cardiff?” Orlando snorted again. “You’re going for the rugby, aren’t you? Work? Work my arse.”
Jonty drew himself up to his full five foot nine. “The rugby—if we see any—will merely be a refresher between seminars.”
“You said that last time, about Edinburgh. You came back with your trousers ripped and ketchup in your blazer pocket.”

4)      You’ve just been let loose in the world of fiction, with permission to do anything you want. Who do you kiss first and why?
Aragorn. Just because he’s the first fictional character I ever fell in love with. Dashing, reliable, heroic, romantic, strong, handsome – what more could a girl want?  (And when I saw the film version I wasn’t disappointed. Vigo was perfect.)

5)      What is your idea of how to spend romantic time with your significant other?
The ideal day would involve walking around Cardiff Bay, a light Italian lunch and then rugby at the Millennium Stadium.  Or, if funds ran to it, a night at the Cliveden hotel followed by a rugby match at London Irish.  Do you detect a theme?

6)      When you start a new story, do you begin with a character, or a plot?
Character/s and, usually, a conversation. All the Cambridge Fellows books started life as conversations and other scenes which were worked up and written out before I ever had a plot to hang them on. All That Jazz started with a pair of disparate characters – a cross-dressing actor and a rugby player – and then I had to work out how to get them together.

7)      If they were to make the story of your life into a movie, who should play you?
Kate Winslet, for the looks (I wish!).  Barbara Windsor, for the accent. Audrey Hepburn (Funny Face version) for the mischief and wacky sense of humour.

8)      Who’s your favorite horror villain and why?
Not quite horror, but I like The Fox in the Christopher Fowler Bryant and May stories.

9)      Do you have an historical crush and if so, who is it?
Loads of them. Alexander the Great, Antinous, Lord Cochrane, Wilfred Owen, Reghie and Layrue Doherty , Duncan Edwards, Prince Rupert of the Rhine

10)   Is there a story that you’d like to tell but you think the world isn’t ready to receive it?
Absolutely. I’d really like to write about a were-squid; a guy who’s a handsome, gay lifeguard twenty nine days of the month, but come the full moon…dah dah DAH! Humboldt squid. (And believe me, a Humboldt squid is not a creature to mess with.)
If you think I’m kidding, ask anyone who knows me well – this would be right up my street!


When Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith witness the suspicious death of a young man at the White City exhibition in London, they’re keen to investigate—especially after the cause of death proves to be murder. But police Inspector Redknapp refuses to let them help, even after they stumble onto clues to the dead man’s identity.

Orlando’s own identity becomes the subject for speculation when, while mourning the death of his beloved grandmother, he learns that she kept secrets about her past. Desperate to discover the truth about his family, Orlando departs suddenly on a solo quest to track down his roots, leaving Jonty distraught.

While Jonty frantically tries to locate his lover, Orlando wonders if he’ll be able to find his real family before he goes mad. After uncovering more leads to the White City case, they must decide whether to risk further involvement. Because if either of them dares try to solve the murder, Inspector Redknapp could expose their illicit—and illegal—love affair.


“Hard work, was it?” Orlando was sitting on the fireside chair with a book perched on his knees when his lover slipped through the door en route to bed.

“Just a little.” Jonty drooped into the seat opposite and undid his shoes. “What’s that you’re reading?”


“I always said you live for nothing but pleasure.” Jonty leaned back in the chair with a sigh. “Poor Ralph. Seems pretty hopeless.”

“Was this the conversation you’ve been dreading? The ‘Lavinia won’t let me make love to her and maybe you can help as you’re pretty unconventional in bed yourself’ discussion?”

“The very same.” Jonty ran his hands over tired eyes. “They don’t just not make love, they don’t seem to touch or pet or have anything more than a cuddle. It’s so sad.”

“It’s not just the pain she’ll be frightened of, it’s the penetration. The feeling that someone else is sharing your body and doing it for their own pleasure, with no guarantee that they care for yours.”

By the time Jonty had been whacked on the back twice and had a glass of water he’d recovered the ability to talk. “What sort of language is that to use? If that’s what comes from reading Euclid I’ll have to ban it.” He picked up the book, shook it and shrugged. “Well, there’s no smut in there so it must all come from out of your head.”

“Of course it does, idiot. Don’t you think I’ve thought about it?” Orlando moved to the bed, taking his lover with him. “I’ve known how Lavinia feels and it’s not pleasant. It’s about surrendering, losing control, all sorts of things which anyone with a bit of spirit might balk at.”

“Yet you overcame it.” Jonty stroked his lover’s hand. “Wonderfully. I’m sure Ralph and Lavinia love each other as much as we do, so there must be hope. How did you work the oracle, back then? I’ve never fathomed what the change was, what overcame the fear.”

“Nothing did. I was still frightened, but it was like…like a sailor in the line of English ships at Trafalgar. I knew I had to do my duty, no matter how scared I was, because it was the right and proper thing to do.” He squeezed Jonty’s hand. “For us.”

“You are the most wonderful idiot in the whole of Christendom.” Jonty nuzzled against Orlando’s brow. “I’m not sure I can win round Lavinia with a Nelson-type pep-talk, though. Not sure I want to talk to her at all.” A theatrical grimace spread over his handsome face.

“Well, I’m not going to.” Orlando lay back on the bed, covering his face with the pillow.

“I should smother you while I have the chance.” Jonty grabbed the pillow, then had what was possibly a heaven-sent inspiration. There’d been an occasion in his past when he’d prayed for an angel to come and deliver him from temptation; then his prayer had been answered in the form of a very unlikely angelic being. The deliverer had been a lady in her late forties, of no great beauty but formidable brains and an extremely incongruous tendency to giggle. “I’ve got an idea. If I can get Ralph to persuade Lavinia to come up to Cambridge with him for a few days, we could arrange dinner at High Table, organise some tennis and punting and make it a pleasant little holiday.”


“There’s someone we could introduce her to, a lady who might just be able to get her to talk about such intimate things.”

“Miss Peters.” Orlando shot bolt upright. “I mean Mrs. Sheridan. I’ll never get used to calling her that. Do you think she’d do it?”

“She’s so awash with the milk of human kindness at the moment she’d refuse nothing.” It was true. The Master of St. Bride’s sister had found late-flowering love and its bright autumnal colours had mellowed her. “I bet she knows more than she lets on and if anyone can get some sense into Lavinia’s noddle it’ll be our Ariadne.”

“She fancies you, of course.”

Jonty nearly choked a second time. “I beg your pardon?”

“Miss Peters. Mrs. Sheridan. Has done since first she laid eyes on you, if I’m any judge. I’m glad she’s got her own version to cherish now.”

“I hardly think Dr. Sheridan is any version of me. Built more along your lines, although I hope you’re as handsome as he is in twenty years.” Jonty’s fingers found the line of Orlando’s jaw, normally smooth but at this time of the night beginning to feel like fine sandpaper. “Rationing the toffee pudding to once a week and cutting out the advocaat entirely should preserve you.” Jonty took his friend’s tie in his hand, gently caressing it. “You were born to wear the finest silk, Orlando. I’m so glad your wardrobe now reflects your true station in life.” He began to undo the knot, carefully sliding the material so it couldn’t snag.

“If you’re so impressed with my clothes, why do you always seem to be on a mission to rid me of them?”

Lessons in Trust is available here.


Charlie, that was wonderful, glad you could make it!  As a small surprise, I have two tickets for us to take in a rugby match. Shall we go? 

Thanks for stopping by the blog today. Leave a comment or question for Charlie, she'll get back to you. Have a great day!

♥ Julie


  1. Oh yes, please. (And what a well chosen picture - come on the light blues!)

    Thanks for hosting me. It's been good fun.

  2. It was fun! We should definitely do this again!

  3. Fun interview. I loved the modern day Jonty and Orlando scene. And I'd read the were-squid story even if the rest of the world wouldn't.

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