Mar 05

Guest Author Wednesdays ♥ Charlie Cochrane

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.

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.

You can reach Charlie at cochrane.charlie2@googlemail.com (maybe to sign up for her newsletter?) or catch her on Facebook, twitter, goodreads, her website or her blog.

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.

Horns and Haloes

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?

MLR Books


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.

About the author


Tempeste O’Riley grew up in the deep south and escaped her conservative, oppressive roots as soon as she could. Tempe is an out and proud omnisexual/bi-woman whose best friend growing up had the courage to do what she couldn’t – defy the hate and come out. He has been her hero ever since.

Though new to writing M/M, she has done many things in her life but writing has always drawn her back – no matter what else life has thrown her way. She counts her friends, family, and Muse as her greatest blessings in life.


Skip to comment form

  1. charliecochrane

    Thanks for hosting me! Great fun.

  2. Sarah_Madison

    Oh, I completely agree with this–I definitely want more realistic characters–people I can relate to! At the same time, (as both a reader and a writer) I don’t want my stories too much like my day job. 😉 That’s one of the reasons I read–for a little escapism. It’s a fine line to walk, isn’t it? Excellent post.

    1. charliecochrane

      Thanks, toots. Yes, a really fine line. That’s why I love the Charioteer. Ordinary people, but with an overlayer of mythology and the setting of WWII to make it come alive.

  3. Mara Ismine

    We all have drama and crises in our lives even if our definition doesn’t always match other people’s. Sometimes humour is the only way to make a character’s reactions enjoyable rather than irritating.
    When the dog eats your new shoes most people are going to laugh while you cry. When that brightly coloured item gets into the white wash and you end up with a lot of patchy pastels most people will sympathise while trying not to laugh in your face.
    But there are some situations that might happen to anyone and aren’t at all funny. The problem with those is that you don’t want to depress the poor readers.
    Ordinary was what I was aiming for with a hero called Johnny Smith, but even he had to have some everyday drama in his story of the not-amusing variety.

    All that aside, I do have a soft-spot for those larger-than-life superspies saving the world…

    1. charliecochrane

      I’m not a great one for superspies, but I do rather like a soldier or a sailor!

      I like your point about humour. We’ve had a few wash related incidents recently that have provoked some…interesting reactions!

  4. helenajust

    Because I liked the characters and enjoyed their banter (both internal and with each other) I completely forgot to notice that they’re ordinary!

    1. charliecochrane

      Hee hee. School governors are superheroes, of course!

  5. Julie Bozza

    Thank you, Charlie! And, indeed, Tempeste. I enjoyed this post very much, and I agree that the heroic can be found in the everyday. It might not be on the scale of saving the world, but there will always be times when an extra effort or a bit of grace is needed though unexpected.

    I liked your example of a dustbin man, especially as it made me remember the storyline in ‘Frasier’ about Roz and the garbologist. He was the only one of her boyfriends I really got emotionally invested in… So, it can definitely work! 🙂

    Thank you again, for all that you do.

    1. charliecochrane

      LOL Yes, if done well, even the most prosaic of employments can be romantic. Wasn’t Maurice a solicitor?

      Hugs (to be collected in Bristol).

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