I’m thrilled to have Author Charlie Cochrane with me today share a bit about “Horns and Haloes” and The Lure of the Ordinary. Please say hi and leave her a comment or two below.
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As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries.
Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series, set in Edwardian England, 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 and International Thriller Writers Inc, with titles published by Carina, Samhain, BSB, MLR and Cheyenne.
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The Lure of the Ordinary
One of the things which came out of the “What Readers Want” panel at last year’s UK Meet was more books with everyday heroes. (You can read what else they want from authors at the UK Meet Blog.) “Older characters, people with everyday careers, people with real bodies as opposed to bodybuilder/supermodel types.” They also wanted more domestic settings, fewer stalkers and more disabled characters. Yes, they enjoyed books with big, hunky firemen or soldiers or men with other glamorous careers, but they also wanted ordinary people finding romance. None of those are unreasonable demands.
This gives an author a bit of a dilemma. There’s an inbuilt glamour and excitement to some of these jobs that you don’t necessarily get if your hero works in a bank or a library. The author has to work to create situations which will add drama to the story, and they have to be believable. I mean, you might just get away with a robbery at the bank, but having your bank clerk getting inadvertently involved in saving London from a terrorist plot or discovering that he’s the long lost heir to a far eastern kingdom sounds a bit far-fetched. If not fodder for comedy, rather than romance.
But ordinary people need—and find—love, too. Most of us live pretty mundane lives most of the time, but romance comes and hits us with the amorous equivalent of a sock full of wet sand. Some occupations, though, seem to mitigate against glamour. Chiropodist? Drain cleaner? Dustbin man? All tremendous professions, all necessary, although not your usual heroes.
I decided to write a story about two ordinary blokes finding romance, and I chose two school governors. Now, it has to be said, that the vast majority of school governors aren’t drop dead gorgeous. They’re lovely, enthusiastic, willing to put a lot of time in for no recompense, but George Clooney they mostly ain’t. What they have going for them, as I know from experience, is a tendency to get worked up about things. They care greatly, they have really strong opinions, and they can end up almost at daggers drawn about certain issues.
And maybe that’s the way forward for our everyday heroes. Find what floats their boats and what gets their goats. Find what makes them angry, what things they’ll fight tooth and nail for, what things make dramas out of commonplace events. What opportunities they have to be heroes in the small business of daily living. Once you’ve found that, you can do your characters—and their stories—justice. In those situations, you have the sparks that can make a fire, whether it be a blazing inferno of action or kindling of a romance.
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What do you do when finding a new boyfriend is like conducting a job interview?
It’s Jamie’s idea of torture—a training course about selection and interviewing and on February the fourteenth! Everybody’s going to be full of romance and he’ll be playing gooseberry as usual. When Jamie finds himself sitting next to the gorgeous Alex, who seems to hate the day as much as Jamie does, will he turn out to be the ideal candidate for the vacant position of boyfriend?
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Who’d want to be a school governor? No pay, little thanks, plenty of red tape. And yet they’d all volunteered to be on this course. Altruistic. Or gluttons for punishment. And on Valentine’s Day, just to rub things in.
“So just work with the person next to you.”
The tutor’s words brought Jamie back to the present with a bump. Work with the person next to you to do what?
“I hope you know the answers because I’m stuck.” The bloke next to Jamie — Alex, according to the hand written sticker on his shirt — grinned and brandished a worksheet.
“I do, but only because I’ve done this bit before, on another course.” Jamie returned the smile.
“You write the answers in, and I’ll read them and try to look intelligent.” Alex’s eyes twinkled.
Why weren’t there any blokes like this on the Cattlebridge Primary Governing Body, with brown eyes lively enough to make the interminable meetings worth sitting through?
“Deal. They’ll give us an answer sheet later, anyway.” Jamie scribbled down some key words, just so it wasn’t obvious that his mind wasn’t on the questions.
“I don’t think they’ll let me have one, punishment for sneaking in late.” Alex smiled again.
Jamie filled in some more answers, trying hard not to write “Do not flirt” on the page.
What point would there be in flirting, anyway? Alex was bound to be married, with two kids in school and one more to come. Typical parent governor. The handsome ones always were.
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