February’s Interview is Charlie Cochrane, interviewed by Chris Smith. Enjoy!
Chris Smith: So, today I’m interviewing the inestimable (take that as you will) Charlie Cochrane. Charlie, back in the mists of time, when you were once a young Cochrane, did you ever expect to be writing gay romance, let alone one of the most loved series out there?
Charlie Cochrane: No. Or perhaps maybe. Like many teenagers I wrote bad slash (mine was vaguely Lord of the Rings influenced) that got put away until I was grown up enough to be able to make a reasonable attempt at it.
Chris Smith: I’m feeling rather a late developer — only got into slash in my 20s. So, when did you decide you were “grown up enough” to attack writing again?
Charlie Cochrane: When I’d read all the Archie/Horatio (Hornblower) fanfic that was available that was good enough to read, and decided to try my hand at producing my own. So I started with fanfic (still dabble sometimes) and then began to play around with my own characters
Chris Smith: And from thence Jonty and Orlando sprang fully formed like whatsit and thingammy from the head of Zeus?
Charlie Cochrane: Absolutely. Artemis. No. Athene. Her. They did. Like they’d always lived in my head and wanted to emerge.
Chris Smith: Was it messy? Who cleaned up afterwards?
Charlie Cochrane: Not as messy as childbirth, and I have cleaners who come in fortnightly so I left it for them.
Chris Smith: I’ll keep that in mind (crosses childbirth off of list of things to do). So, suddenly you have two blokes living in your head, and pretty disparate blokes at that. What on earth made you think that not only should they get it on like Viagra based bunnies (note to people who have not read Charlie’s work — Viagra is anachronistic and bunnies hardly feature) but solve mysteries on the side?
Charlie Cochrane: Ah well. Wish fulfilment of what I wanted to read, maybe? I’m a great fan of classic mysteries — Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers, Ngaio Marsh — and I’d have loved to see a duo like Wimsey and Vane or Alleyn and Troy but gay, so I had to invent them myself. And I love Cambridge so that seemed to be the right location.
Chris Smith: Oh I’m glad you explained that — I’ve always loved how Jonty and Orlando are not a horrible pastiche of Holmes and Watson. They are so very much their own characters. So, where did your love of Cambridge spring from?
Charlie Cochrane: Ah, well. Back in 1976 New Hall college decided they’d be mad enough to allow me to come and take my degree there. New Hall is modern but I spent a lot of time in the older parts of the University and the older colleges. These became the models for St Bride’s.
Chris Smith: Somehow a young Cochrane stalking the talent in the other colleges is not entirely beyond imagining. But how does someone go from studying (mathematics?) at New Hall to being both one of the busiest real life people and most prolific M/M authors out there? It seems like you’ve a new ebook coming out every month or so!
Charlie Cochrane: Not beyond imagining and entirely accurate – you weren’t stalking me were you? You weren’t born I guess. I studied science, not maths. Not clever enough for maths. LOL About the business, yes, I sort of had this mad idea that life might get slower at 50 but it just expanded in all directions. Don’t forget I did a lot of writing before I was ever published. A lot of these stories were half finished in my files, waiting to be taken out and used at the right time.
Chris Smith: I was born in 1981 — so you figure! And I’m pretty sure you’re damn clever enough. Am pleased you did not turn out to be a mathematician. They scare Chris Smith. And I’ve seen a photo of you. YOU LIE about the expansion in all directions. Widthways I am most definitely envious! You mean there is a TROVE OF COCHRANE LURKING ON YOUR HARD DRIVE?
Charlie Cochrane: It’s the expansion of activities that keeps me so thin. And the hummingbird metabolism. You should see the middle Cochrane; eats like an elephant, built like a racing snake. There’s a fair amount in my hard drive – half written things and little ideas mainly. Less than there was – a lot of it has already escaped. Nothing too worrying though.
Chris Smith: I’m now imagining these files fleeing into the air, screaming FREE! FREE! I’m not going to ask if you’ve the denouement to the Cambridge Fellows Mysteries on there, because I’d be damn sad knowing THAT it was going end, let alone how you’d got there, so let’s wander along to your other short stories. How do you make these so brilliant? It’s most unfair.
Charlie Cochrane: I think that’s starting off in fanfic, you have to make a short piece interesting. Like me. I’m a short piece. LOL. Vertically challenged. I love writing short stories, so easy to make them flow. More than 25000 words is hard work.
Chris Smith: The grounding of fanfic is great isn’t it? But what would you say is the biggest difference between professional fiction (by which I mean you’re contracted to a publisher with external editors) and fan-fiction?
Charlie Cochrane: For a lot of people it’s quality of finished product. Not for everyone – some people write fanfic that’s as well presented and checked, etc as pro fic.
Chris Smith: As in, because of publishers there is a built in filter in pro-fic that prevents one from having to go through fanfiction.net in search of gems. There are gems there, but they’re not always easily visible.
Charlie Cochrane: The main difference for an author is that you can’t use ‘shorthand’. By which I mean you could start a story saying ‘Hi Ianto. Where’s the rest of them?’ Jack looked around the hub. ‘Gwen’s gone off with Owen somewhere and I’ve no idea where Tosh has got to’. Everyone reading the fanfic would know who you meant. No need to set up character etc. If you started a story ‘Hi John. Where’s the rest of them?’ Freddie looked around the Strom. ‘Clare’s gone off with Terry somewhere and I’ve no idea where Lola has got to’ everyone would have lost interest by then.
Chris Smith: Well said! So, what’s next on Cochrane’s calendar?
Charlie Cochrane: Depends when you post this interview. LOL. Feb 14th I Do Two is due out. 16th Feb Lessons in Seduction comes out. Cambridge books out in print this summer. I’ve got a couple of WWI things I’m working on which don’t have a home yet.
Chris Smith: And I’m sure you can teach us a bit or two about seduction! And I’m so pleased to hear about print — I’ve got a few books in e-books and print, and I have to say I much prefer the real feel of a book in my hands!
Charlie Cochrane: I prefer real books too. I’m a great ‘bath-time reader’.
Chris Smith: Me too. There is something quite horrible about the thought of a kindle in the water. Horrible, slightly tingly, and very expensive.
Charlie Cochrane: And very predictable given my innate clumsiness.
Chris Smith: So, oh great Cochrane, I have one last, horrible, and completely unpredictable question to ask. Who is your favourite referee?
Charlie Cochrane: Is this a trick question? The one and only Nigel Owens, whose boots I am not fit to lick.
Charlie Cochrane: Lick his boots? Maybe. Clean them — definitely.
Chris Smith: Anything else you want to proclaim to the world before I leave you in peace to watch 30 men in short shorts grope each other in the name of sport?
Charlie Cochrane: I don’t think so. Except to say thank you for being such a good interviewer
Chris Smith: No, thank you for being such a good interviewee. The cookie is in the post!
Charlie’s website http://charliecochrane.co.uk/