We’re so pleased to kick off our weekend with a visit from author Charlie Cochrane, here to celebrate the release of a new novella in the Cambridge Fellows Mystery series, Lessons in Loving Thy Murderous Neighbour. There’s a snippet from the book to enjoy along with Charlie’s guest post, and there’s also an opportunity to win an audio copy of Lessons in Love, book one in the series and narrated by Phil Mayes, so be sure to check out those details below.
The Words That Fill an Author with Dread
Imagine the scenario. You happen to mention, maybe at a party, that you write books. You’ll be surprised at how often the reply is along the lines of, “I’d love to write a book. I have this great idea for a story…” Your heart sinks.
Now, to make it clear, I’m not talking about being at a writers’ group or at a conference, where discussing books and the writing of them is fair game. You can pick my brains (for what that’s worth) as much as you like in that setting. But when it’s in a social context, I find it really tricky knowing how to react.
I have to admit that the first time you get the, “Wow, you’re an author. I have this idea for a book.” line it’s quite thrilling, as it makes you feel like a real writer, but by the time it’s happened on half a dozen occasions you’ve had second thoughts. Listening politely and encouraging the person to write the thing is perhaps the best strategy, although you’d be amazed at how many times they have their excuses ready to hand for why they couldn’t possibly commit this brilliant idea to paper/screen. If the excuse was lack of time, I used to point out that if you write only 250 words every day you’ll have your 90,000 word novel by the end of the year, but you’d also be amazed at how people don’t want to hear that. I guess a viable solution would rob them of the reason they can’t write.
There’s also a more important element, which is intellectual property. What if this person starts to describe a story idea that’s similar to one you already have in mind or are drafting? There are only a limited number of tropes, after all. Imagine you finish your book, it gets published and your dream comes true: it sells a million; Hollywood is interested. What if that person at the party then comes back and says, “That author stole my story!” It makes you consider cutting people off – politely – mid plot and explaining just exactly why they shouldn’t be telling you. (And this may not just happen face to face. I know an author who’s had people e-mail her with detailed plots they’d like to see her write. She, quite rightly, refuses.)
Maybe I should just stop mentioning I’m an author…
About the Book
Series: Cambridge Fellows Mysteries
Length: 86 Pages
Category: Historical Mystery
Blurb: Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith like nothing more than being given a mystery to solve. But what happens when you have to defend your greatest enemy on a charge of murder?
“Owens? Owens?” Orlando Coppersmith’s voice sounded louder, and clearer, from his chair in the Senior Common Room at St Bride’s than it had ever sounded before. And with good cause.
“Steady on, old man. We’re in enough of a state of shock without you making sufficient noise to wake the dead.” Jonty Stewart smiled at his friend’s uncharacteristic outburst. Although friendship would hardly be the most accurate way to describe their relationship. Even the description “lovers, companions, colleagues and partners in solving crime” didn’t quite cover the depth of the bond they’d build up in nigh on twenty years. If their hair bore the odd silver thread, their ardour hadn’t cooled.
“Wake the dead or, harder still, wake some of the dons,” Dr. Panesar agreed, mischievously.
“Good point, Dr. P.” Jonty sniggered. “Some of them give the impression they’ve been asleep since 1913.”
A quick glance around the oak panelled room supported his assertion. St. Bride’s may have been one of the most forward looking of the Cambridge colleges, embracing the fact the year was 1922 rather than pretending it was still 1622, but some aspects of the university, including crusty old dons, seemed to be an immutable fixture.
“In which case,” Orlando pointed out, “we’d have ten years of history to explain to them, much of it unpleasant, let alone this latest scandal. St. Bride’s men being asked to defend Owens. What is the world coming to?”
About the Author
Because Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her mystery novels include the Edwardian era Cambridge Fellows series, and the contemporary Lindenshaw Mysteries. Multi-published, she has titles with Carina, Riptide, Lethe and Bold Strokes, among others.
A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, Charlie regularly appears at literary festivals and at reader and author conferences with The Deadly Dames.