We’re so pleased to welcome author Charlie Cochrane today, on the tour for her new novel, Jury of One, book two in the Lindenshaw Mysteries series.
Enjoy Charlie’s guest post and then be sure to check out the giveaway details below.
Where Authors Get Ideas
If, as frequently happens, something funny—or out of the ordinary—occurs in the Cochrane household, one of my daughters will usually say, “That’s going to end up in one of your books, isn’t it?”
And, because I’m the world’s worst liar (any career as a secret agent would be totally beyond me) I say, “Um. Yes. Probably.”
I can’t help it. I get inspired by little incidents, turns of phrase, quirky things which turn up. They can’t be left buried in the family memory: they need to be shared with the world. So when my eldest daughter’s boyfriend refused to take some medicine he needed, that was always going to end up as a scene in one of the Cambridge Fellows books. He had Orlando’s characteristic reticence and pig headedness down pat!
Sometimes it’s a favourite phrase or word – “gregarious” had to be sneaked in somewhere – and it’s pretty harmless so long as it doesn’t get in the way. In jokes can alienate, so you have to do this with a light touch and not over-indulge yourself.
I guess there are two elements for a magpie type writer like me, who snaps up unconsidered trifles left right and centre. One is the “you couldn’t make this up” aspect, which I’d better explain. I have been known to think of something ridiculous and then do it. Helping on a school trip, I was watching children roll down a grassy bank. “That looks fun,” I thought, so I gave it a go. They might have been having a whale of a time, but I thought I was going to die. Time expanded, so I was able – as I made my Usain Bolt like descent – to imagine the newspaper headlines. “Chair of governors dies on school trip. She was arsing about, says headteacher.”
That sort of incident, the vividness of the emotions I felt, is meat and drink to an author. We don’t have to imagine the feelings of that near death (it seemed like near death at the time) experience. We recall them all too well, so they add veracity to our writing. (Yes, I did use it. Jonty and Orlando roll down a hill and think they’re going to die in one of the Cambridge books.) I’ve drawn on my experience as a school governor for a number of things in both “Jury of One” and its predecessor “The Best Corpse for the job”. Some of the things which Adam’s fellow governors say are things I’ve heard in real life.
The second aspect is the old saw that you should “write what you know”. Now, taken to its logical end, that’s slightly unwieldy because the only thing we ever know fully is our own experiences but we can apply those to the lives of our characters. Part of the storyline of Jury of One concerns Adam’s jury service and that sprang directly out of the same thing, which I did a few years back. It was a deeply interesting, and quite moving, experience that had to be incorporated in a story somehow. (And confidentiality meant I had to be very objective about the elements I used.)
My advice to aspiring authors would be to make a note of anything which piques your interest. If it intrigues you, chances are it’ll intrigue other people. And you always need ideas for your scenes and dialogues. Don’t ignore the ones which land in your lap!
About Jury of One: Inspector Robin Bright is enjoying a quiet Saturday with his lover, Adam Matthews, when murder strikes in nearby Abbotston, and he’s called in to investigate. He hopes for a quick resolution, but as the case builds, he’s drawn into a tangled web of crimes, new and old, that threatens to ensnare him and destroy his fledgling relationship.
Adam is enjoying his final term teaching at Lindenshaw School, and is also delighted to be settling down with Robin at last. Only Robin doesn’t seem so thrilled. Then an old crush of Adam’s shows up in the murder investigation, and suddenly Adam is yet again fighting to stay out of one of Robin’s cases, to say nothing of trying to keep their relationship from falling apart.
Between murder, stabbings, robberies, and a suspect with a charming smile, the case threatens to ruin everything both Robin and Adam hold dear. What does it take to realise where your heart really lies, and can a big, black dog hold the key?
About Charlie Cochrane: As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes, with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes, MLR and Cheyenne.
Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series of Edwardian romantic mysteries 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, International Thriller Writers Inc and is on the organising team for UK Meet for readers/writers of GLBT fiction. She regularly appears with The Deadly Dames.
Leave a comment for a chance to win a download of Lessons in Love (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries #1) in audio! Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on March 26, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
The Fine Print:
*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law