As part of my non-writing life, I attended a development day, where one of the speakers discussed “Relationship Marketing” and the increasing loyalty as someone moves from being a prospective customer to a brand advocate. (How does this relate to the story behind “Awfully Glad”? Bear with, bear with…) I immediately could relate this concept to a potential reader moving, one hopes, to being someone who recommends your book to their friends, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised it could apply to me and my characters/settings.
I’d better explain.
I’ve always loved the war poets of WWI, especially Wilfred Owen, and I have a penchant for visiting war graves. (I maintain a war grave in our local churchyard.) So I guess I was always a “Prospect” in terms of writing a story set in the era, not least because I could visualise the scene – and hear the cadence of the language – so clearly from reading old soldiers’ reminiscences. It would always be an easy era to write from the technical point of view, if not from the potentially harrowing storylines.
I became a “customer”, ie first time writer of the era as part of my Cambridge Fellows Mysteries series. From the very first book, set in 1905, I could feel the shadow of war hanging over Jonty and Orlando. They’d have signed up, they’d have been officers, officers had a notorious small likelihood of survival, so what would have happened to them? I explored that in All Lessons Learned, but writing that book wasn’t enough. I’d become…
…a Client (repeat purchaser!). Or in this case, repeat writer. Awfully Glad is my fourth foray into WWI, and I’ve also had a short story featuring a guardian angel who was a WWI soldier before he died. My usual writing style tends to be light and humorous, and I have some pretty odd storylines (who else has written about weresloths?) but when I start exploring this era, my stories are more serious and my style more sober. That’s not to say there aren’t lighter parts – the wonderful humour these soldiers maintained in the face of such suffering is astonishing and that had to be reflected, too. But each of my WWI stories has had to deal with loss, either of one of the main players or someone close to them, because that’s the reality of the times. As is romance, and finding new hope among the ruins, and that’s featured heavily, too. I promise a happy ending for all my stories.
The next step on the marketing line is a supporter, who tries new products, which made me think of how I’ve tried to take a different look at the era rather than just repeating “soldier meets soldier, soldier loses soldier, soldier gets soldier back”. Awfully Glad was inspired by stories I’d read about WWI concert parties and the wonderful female impersonators they’d had entertaining the troops. Some of these had been so convincing they’d ended up being ogled by their own commanding officers! That’s exactly the sort of snippet which gets the plot bunnies breeding. Soon I had a character – Sam Hines – who’s beautiful and glamorous when he’s in drag, but butch and heroic when he’s back in uniform. That element of playing a part, taking up a role which wasn’t really you, gave me the idea for a storyline which would delve into the real dangers gay men faced in their everyday lives back in the early twentieth century. They’d always have “keep a face in a jar by the door” to wear for the world.
So that just leaves “brand champion” and maybe that’s what I’m doing now, talking about my book and trying to get people to read it, especially people who would normally give historical romances a miss. Although I think there’s more to it than just selling. I want to encourage people to find out more about WWI and the real soldiers who fought then. I’m researching the soldiers listed on the memorials at our two parish churches, as part of a Diocese project to mark the centenary of hostilities breaking out. I’d like to persuade people to explore the poems of Wilfred Owen, and read his biography, to become as besotted with the era as I am.
As I write this, I look out of a sash window that must have been opened and shut during that time (our house is Edwardian). The past is just a hairsbreadth away. Come and explore it with me.
Bio and links: 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 email@example.com (maybe to sign up for her newsletter?) or catch her on Facebook, twitter, goodreads, her website or her blog.
WWI hero Sam Hines is used to wearing a face that isn’t his own. When he’s not in the trenches, he’s the most popular female impersonator on the front, but a mysterious note from an anonymous admirer leaves him worried. Everyone realizes—eventually—that Sam’s not a woman, but has somebody also worked out that he also prefers his lovers to be male?
When Sam meets—and falls for—fellow officer Johnny Browne after the war, he wonders whether he could be the man who wrote the note. If so, is he the answer to Sam’s dreams or just another predatory blackmailer, ready to profit from a love that dare not speak its name?
THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED
32 thoughts on “We're Awfully Glad To Have Charlie Cochrane With Us Today, And She's Giving Away A Book!”
Terrific angle from which to consider your WWI era stories, Charlie. It’s a fascinating period, to be sure — full of change, and full of stories. So sad I’m going to miss the UK Meetup this year. I was looking forward to meeting you and others in person…
Full of stories, indeed. Millions of them.
Sorry you can’t make it, Lloyd. I had a glass of wine ready. 2015 maybe?
Being there in 2015 is definitely my plan. In the meantime I guess I’ll have to keep calm and carry on… LOL.
LOL I like the cut of your jib, Lloyd. And I have some lovely “Keep calm” mugs we’re giving out as spot prizes…
Please add me too, thank you for the chance.
I like WWI period stories. Count me in.
Isn’t it a fascinating era?
I’ve enjoyed all your historical books please count me in for the Giveaway
Thanks Shirley Ann. What a star you are.
Never read anything by Charlie Cochrane but this sounds really good. Please include me in the giveaway. Thank you. :)
Thanks YOU for taking part!
As a supporter and brand champion, I already own the book so don’t enter me! But this is an interesting way to look at your interest in the period and the fact that you write about it often, but in a different way each time. I found this interesting: “From the very first book, set in 1905, I could feel the shadow of war hanging over Jonty and Orlando.” I certainly didn’t give WWI a thought when I started reading J & O; 1914 seemed impossibly distant from 1905! I’m glad you didn’t let that shadow appear in the books until they’d lived and loved up to 1914.
I was always conscious that the boys only had a few years together before war broke out. So was my Cathy, who wrote me an impassioned note about how they could avoid serving and that they mustn’t marry after the war, just because there were fewer men to go round! I was working on their war story before Lessons in Love was first published! And (this will sound weird) I think All Lessons Learned is the ‘approved’ version of their history. I think that what actually happened to them in the war is quite different. And too tragic to write.
I’m deciding to forget what you’ve said about All Lessons Learned; I find it is as sad as I can stand, already.
How have I not read this series? I have to correct that! Thank you for the post and the giveaway.
My pleasure all round.
Hi Charlie, (waves) these awards probably mean that a lot more people will get to delight in your books and the people you have given us all.
Count me in for the giveaway, please. I have not read Awfully Glad yet!
Will do, Stephanie. hugs
I’ve got all your other books and love them dearly! And I spotted your coming soon release from MLR, but this one has passed me by! Thank you for the chance to win! Either way, I’m going to read it very soon :-)
Thanks, my dear. Sorry this one passed you by!
Please count me in. Thanks!
I would love a chance to win too please! Sounds like a great read.
This sounds like a good book, can’t wait to read it!
Thanks, my dear!
I love Lessons in Love, so I have to give some more of yours a try. Thanks, Charlie!
Thank YOU, Ashley!
Love your books charlie xx
Thanks, Sally. You’ve cheered up a wet and dreary Thursday!
Thank you so much, everyone, for stopping in to say hello, and thanks so much to Charlie for dropping by to say hello right back. The Awfully Glad giveaway is now closed, and the winner has been drawn. An e-copy of the book goes to…
Congratulations to you, Loren! I’ve already emailed Charlie with your contact information, so expect to hear from her soon.