*doffs hat and bows*

I’m Charlie Cochrane and I’d like to thank you for letting me come here and blether a while. I’m not sure I can do a good job of describing myself; ‘married, three daughters, recently published author of m/m historical romances’ seems a bit bland. Sports mad Shakespeare fan, with a not-so-secret passion for jelly babies and handsome men, fills in the portrait a bit more. Add to that the constant rejoinder of “Mother, act your age!” and you’re getting the picture.

If you want to know more, then check out http://www.lindenbayromance.com/newsletter105-2008-11-04.html

or the interview I did here
http://www.myspace.com/lindenbayromance
3rd to 7th November.
If you asked me what would constitute a typical Charlie Cochrane tale, I’d say imagine a black and white film, with two handsome, well dressed young men. Add a dash of humour, some banter, a mention or two of food and sport, a dollop of intrigue and there you have it. But don’t forget that instead of a leading lady to add the love interest, I’ll just settle for those two leading men and the romantic adventures which befall them.

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That said, my first published story, Aftermath (part of the Trilogy Speak Its Name with Lee Rowan and Erastes) isn’t so typical. It’s more angsty and a bit darker than the other things I’ve written, although it has a soft spot in my heart as it’s my ‘firstborn’. Hugo Lamont and Edward Easterby definitely fall into the ‘English stiff upper lip leading man’ category and it was interesting to explore how they would react to their mutual attraction, especially in the wake of the first World War, when (does this sound familiar?) some people had blamed the prolongation of the conflict on homosexuals, amongst others.

The plates were bare, the bottle of wine empty and the two young men on the river bank were, too full to attempt another morsel. Hugo lay back on the mossy bank and stared at the blue sky. “Today has certainly turned unseasonably warm for March, Edward, but we won’t complain in case someone hears and does something to rectify it.” Hugo was at last comfortable about using his friend’s Christian name. He’d worried about it all morning, aware that they could not continue with Lamont and Easterby, but knowing it would mean the first level of the defenses that he’d constructed for that first meeting would be breached. There were other walls, other ditches and towers, but the curtain had been broken. He wasn’t sure if he was pleased or not, this was unknown territory.

He looked up. “Come here…no, right next to me so that I can see both you and the sky at the same time.” It was as if he’d spoken his innermost thoughts and he was cross at himself for making so bold a suggestion. Words once spoken can’t be recalled and he shivered as his guest moved closer. Hugo had been very careful, when offering the caviar, not to allow even a cat’s whisker of contact. It had been his next line of defense, along with not mentioning anything personal or too close to the heart. If he could keep this as friendship, then he’d be fine—at least that’s what he kept telling himself.

It would have been terribly easy to simply reach up and draw a line down Edward’s spine. That would have been an undeniable invitation, a statement of intent. Yet Hugo still had no idea whether he wanted to go so far or whether he would want Easterby to accept the invitation if he did. This situation was unique—for once in Lamont’s life desire and friendship had coincided. Perhaps this was even the budding of love, a precious bud that could easily be nipped by the frosts of a rejected pass. The risk of making a move and having it turned down, of then losing a precious acquaintance, was far too great a one to for him to take it lightly.

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I was very fortunate in being able to collaborate with two such friendly and professional authors. I’ve known Lee since before ‘Ransom’ was published and we’ve always got on well. Early last year she asked me to contribute an historical m/m romance for the ‘Speak Its Name’ trilogy and in a mad moment I agreed. I admit I was a bit in awe of being in tandem with Erastes, who’s established such a reputation with ‘Standish’, but once I got to know her it all became less daunting. If we ever all got to meet up the venue probably wouldn’t be left standing.

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The first book in the Cambridge Fellows Mystery series, Lessons in Love has all the hallmarks of a Cochrane tale. Inspired by my love of detective novels, old films, Cambridge and handsome, intellectual men, this story is a romance with a mystery attached, or perhaps vice versa. There’s plenty of romantic interludes, but be warned that I write sensual rather than explicit sex scenes. My two ‘heroes’, Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith, were created out of many influences; the wonderfully contrasting protagonists in ‘Chariots of Fire’, the characters in ‘Death at the President’s Lodging’, the leading men in the radio dramas of my youth. I also wanted to create an m/m equivalent of Wimsey and Vane or Alleyn and Troy – a couple deeply in love, who also happened to solve mysteries.

“There’s some of that bottle left, Dr. Stewart, if you need something to keep out the cold.” Coppersmith raised an eyebrow in silent plea and his friend nodded his willingness to comply.

“I think that I’m beyond keeping out the cold but I might be able to persuade it to vacate the premises.” Jonty managed a grin, something Orlando could never have done, given the circumstances.

They didn’t speak a word as they crossed the courtyard, making the most of the fellows’ privilege of walking on the grass, despite the snow, which now lay an inch or two deep. The glasses they’d left half empty they now refilled.

“Here you are, Jonty, drive out the chill with this.” Orlando thrust a generous measure of port into Stewart’s hand. It was strange and endearing that Coppersmith had reverted to using his Christian name the minute they’d entered the set of rooms again.

“Thank you, Orlando—it’s been a long night and I guess this is just the beginning of many long days.” Jonty sipped the excellent vintage appreciatively and studied his companion. Coppersmith looked a broken man. It must have been a great shock to him that his nice little academic world had been sullied by something as common and grubby as a strangling. And this had followed directly after his nice little academic world being sullied by a spark of something else—desire, attraction, lust? Who knew what name to give it, but it had been there.

It would have been the easiest thing in the world for Stewart to go over, sit on the arm of Orlando’s chair and put his arm around the man’s shoulders. It certainly would have been simple twenty-four hours ago, but not now—not after whatever strange electricity had crackled between them in this very room a few hours ago. He settled for walking across and clapping Coppersmith on the back. “I’ll see you tomorrow. No, later today I suppose it would be.” He moved to the door, “Will you be all right?” What he meant was would you like me to stay? but that particular thought remained unspoken.

“I’ll be fine, thank you, Jonty.” Coppersmith produced a wan smile. “Thank you for your help tonight—thank you for everything.”

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Unfortunately St. Bride’s college doesn’t exist; it’s an amalgam of a number of colleges, some of which haven’t changed all that much in over a hundred years. By setting the story in that place and time, I can indulge in writing about something else I love, namely sport. Cambridge has always been a great place for games, so I can weave in the odd rugby match to the story; such a great source of angst for the people on the touchline. (In one of the later books in the series, Jonty and Orlando get to play a match against each other. There’s foul play in plenty.)

The next book in the Cambridge Mysteries series comes out on the first of February 2009 and takes the lads away from the comparative safety of the college-Where’s the best place to hide a pair of men who want to be together all the time? In a Cambridge college-to the island of Jersey, where Orlando takes his time coming to grips with keeping their relationship a secret. When a brutal murder occurs at the hotel where they’re staying, and the victim’s son makes a pass at Orlando, their holiday turns into a bit of a nightmare.
I have one more book out at present and that’s firmly in ‘black and white film’ territory, set at the time when Londoners spent every night wondering if it would be their last. This book is a free read, available from links

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They never reached the fish and chip shop, the siren sounding before they’d turned the corner. The pair were forced to join the mass of humanity heading for a nearby underground station. Neither man had taken refuge in one before, always having been at their local shelters, and the sheer mass of unfamiliar, frightened humanity distressed Scarborough immensely.

They ended up sitting together, watching and waiting, sharing the odd word or a wan smile, both trying to be brave and gallant; not just in front of the families which huddled around them but in front of each other. This was no time for any display of fearfulness. Gradually they drew nearer, until they were thigh to thigh, arm to arm, and the unease of being underground as the bombers strafed the streets was replaced with the excitement of close physical contact with someone you fancied and daren’t tell. At least not in words which could be spoken here and now.

“Dr. Scarborough…” Adam tried to control the emotion in his voice.

“My name is Hugh, please use it.”

“Hugh. Didn’t you ever wish you were on active service?”

“I wanted to join the navy but my university tutor put me into this line. He said that any fool could sail a frigate, but men with brains—his words, not mine—were a rare commodity. I know that the work we do is vital, but…” Scarborough’s voice petered out, his uncertainty making itself clear. Was the closeness of their bodies distracting his train of thought as it much as it was Adam’s?

“I know.” Jackson sighed. He also couldn’t be sure of a great deal at present, except that he wanted to take Hugh to his bed. He’d felt the same since he’d first set eyes on the man but he needed to make sure he had a realistic chance. “You’d rather be doing something with a uniform to wear and a bit of glamour—and have two land girls hanging off your arm.”

“Something like that. Except for the land girls,” Hugh added, in a voice barely above a whisper and full, to Adam’s ears, of hidden meaning.

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It’s been great to be here, although I have to say it’s been far more daunting talking about me than writing my usual blog contributions here. Visit my website
www.charliecochrane.co.uk
or my journal http://charliecochrane.livejournal.com/ for the latest news – feel free to contact me via a comment in the journal or at charlie.cochrane@lindenbayromance.com

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