How the Cambridge Fellows helped get me out of the writing garret
When I look back at my writing life when I was first published, nine years ago, my equivalent of going into the office of a morning was logging on to the computer. The authors (and readers) I met were all online, via facebook or live journal or what have you. It took me a couple of years to be brave enough to find some real life authors to meet face to face.
That first authors’ lunch I attended (after much googling and e-mailing and getting myself invited as a guest) was at the local chapter meeting of the Romantic Novelists Association. It was wonderful, not least because they were so welcoming of new blood and – perhaps more importantly – so unready to bat an eye at the fact I wrote about romance between two men, as opposed to the traditional “boy meets girl”. I felt empowered. Or something.
Next step was to join the RNA as a proper member, then carry on looking for fresh opportunities; once you’ve taken the step into the unknown you’re happy to take that step again. I’d already volunteered to be on the organising panel for UK Meet, which has become a flagship UK event for people who love the LGBTQ genre. It’s a great mixture of business and pleasure, authors and readers, industry stuff and non-industry stuff.
Still, I felt the urge to spread my wings further, and not just along the LGBTQ lines. So much I wanted to do and no idea how to make it happen; then when I least expected it, up an opportunity popped. One of the people I met through the RNA lunches, and who knew about the Cambridge fellows romantic mysteries, said, “Would you be interested in doing library talks? There’s this organisation called Mystery People who have all sorts of things going on.”I almost knocked her down in my rush to say, “Yes, where do I sign?” That point saw the first birth pangs of “The Deadly Dames” who’ve appeared at libraries, literary festivals and conferences for both readers and authors with our unique brand of murder, mystery and mayhem.
One of the other knock on effects of having a story with crime in was being able to join International Thriller Writers Inc, through which I’ve been able to access some great promo opportunities and – in a surreal moment – ended up sitting with a group of authors round Peter James’s dining room table!
I’d encourage all authors, if they can (and I know it’s just not possible for some of us to step out of the garret) to take a deep breath, be brave and go out to find kindred spirits. It’ll do you the power of good and you might just end up having the sort of author experiences you really couldn’t buy.
Title: Lessons in Loving Thy Murderous Neighbour by Charlie Cochrane
Cambridge Fellows Mysteries
Publisher: The Right Chair Press
Genre: Historical, M/M, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 82 pages
Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith like nothing more than being given a mystery to solve. But what happens when you have to defend your greatest enemy on a charge of murder?
“Owens? Owens?” Orlando Coppersmith’s voice sounded louder, and clearer, from his chair in the Senior Common Room at St Bride’s than it had ever sounded before. And with good cause.
“Steady on, old man. We’re in enough of a state of shock without you making sufficient noise to wake the dead.” Jonty Stewart smiled at his friend’s uncharacteristic outburst. Although friendship would hardly be the most accurate way to describe their relationship. Even the description “lovers, companions, colleagues and partners in solving crime” didn’t quite cover the depth of the bond they’d build up in nigh on twenty years. If their hair bore the odd silver thread, their ardour hadn’t cooled.
“Wake the dead or, harder still, wake some of the dons,” Dr. Panesar agreed, mischievously.
“Good point, Dr. P.” Jonty sniggered. “Some of them give the impression they’ve been asleep since 1913.”
A quick glance around the oak panelled room supported his assertion. St. Bride’s may have been one of the most forward looking of the Cambridge colleges, embracing the fact the year was 1922 rather than pretending it was still 1622, but some aspects of the university, including crusty old dons, seemed to be an immutable fixture.
“In which case,” Orlando pointed out, “we’d have ten years of history to explain to them, much of it unpleasant, let alone this latest scandal. St. Bride’s men being asked to defend Owens. What is the world coming to?”
Because Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her mystery novels include the Edwardian era Cambridge Fellows series, and the contemporary Lindenshaw Mysteries. Multi-published, she has titles with Carina, Riptide, Lethe and Bold Strokes, among others.
A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, Charlie regularly appears at literary festivals and at reader and author conferences with The Deadly Dames.
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