We’re so pleased to host author Charlie Cochrane today on the tour for her latest release, Two Feet Under, book three in the Lindenshaw Mysteries series. Charlie’s chatting about research with us today, and there’s also a great giveaway, so be sure to check out those details below.
Research – A Constant Source of Surprises
I was recently asked whether there was any research I’d done that had changed a story around from how I’d envisioned it. The answer is, of course, yes – and the changes vary from the very small right through to the massive.
At the small end are things like changes of language, because I discover that a word or a phrase appeared too late for me to use in a historical setting (no blizzards in the Regency age). Conversely, I can end up delighted at discovering that some term is much older than I’d given it credit for (‘punk’, for example goes back to pre-Shakespearean times) so I can use it without being shouted at. Many things go back further than we’ve assumed – floodlighting at sports matches started in the Victorian era, for example. It’s really tempting to try subtly to work these little snippets into a story, although it needs a light touch or else you bog the story down with extraneous stuff that stops being interesting and gets in the way of the plot.
At the other end of the scale, I’ve had to abandon a novel because it was becoming obvious that the amount of research needed for it was far too daunting. That may sound wimpish, but the area concerned – modern counter espionage – is a changing field and this tale was taking so long to be written that it kept going out of date. You can easily change some date-stamped references (what music characters listen to, for example) but when major things happen, you need a total rework. Sometimes your storyline is just not good enough to justify the effort.
In terms of the Lindenshaw stories, I’ve been extremely cunning in order to cut down the amount of research needed. It may be controversial to say so, but I always maintain that you need as much, if not more, research for a contemporary story as for an historical. Make a mistake about modern day things and loads of people will spot it! So, for some of the background settings – recruiting a school headteacher in “The Best Corpse for the Job” or jury service in “Jury of One” – I’ve chosen things I’ve been involved in myself, and both of them recently. But the archaeological stuff I did have to keep checking, because my memory of Time Team isn’t always spot on. I learned more about opus signinum than I ever wanted to know, and I had to change some detail about a mosaic, because it didn’t make sense as I’d written it. (Don’t ask – it was very boring and technical, honest.)
The biggest single research challenge with the Lindenshaw series has been around the roles of Crime Scene Investigators and Forensic scientists. This is an area which has seen massive change in the last few years, including Scene of Crimes Officers changing their titles to CSIs just before “The Best Corpse for the Job” went through edits. Luckily we were able to catch and implement the change. But many forensic services which were once in house have been outsourced, and roles/responsibilities seem to vary from force to force. Don’t ask me how many job adverts/descriptions I looked at to work out who would liaise with the detectives and about what. But it was worth it, to get things as right as they could be. Fongers crossed, of course…
About Two Feet Under
Things are looking up for Adam Matthews and Robin Bright—their relationship is blossoming, and they’ve both been promoted. But Robin’s a policeman, and that means murder is never far from the scene.
When a body turns up in a shallow grave at a Roman villa dig site—a body that repeatedly defies identification—Robin finds himself caught up in a world of petty rivalries and deadly threats. The case seems to want to drag Adam in, as well, and their home life takes a turn for the worse when an ex-colleague gets thrown out of his house and ends up outstaying his welcome at theirs.
While Robin has to prove his case against a manipulative and fiendishly clever killer, Adam is trying to find out which police officer is leaking information to the media. And both of them have to work out how to get their home to themselves again, which might need a higher intelligence than either a chief inspector or a deputy headteacher.
About the Lindenshaw Mysteries
Adam Matthews’s life changed when Inspector Robin Bright walked into his classroom to investigate a murder.
Now it seems like all the television series are right: the leafy villages of England do indeed conceal a hotbed of crime, murder, and intrigue. Lindenshaw is proving the point.
Detective work might be Robin’s job, but Adam somehow keeps getting involved—even though being a teacher is hardly the best training for solving crimes. Then again, Campbell, Adam’s irrepressible Newfoundland dog, seems to have a nose for figuring things out, so how hard can it be?
About the Author
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.
To celebrate the release of Two Feet Under, one lucky winner will receive a swag bag, including magnet, napkins, bookmark, pencils, hanging decoration, postcards, and a coaster! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on January 13, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!