Friday, July 20, 2012

Lessons for Survivors by Charlie Cochrane

Literary Nymphs Interview

Title: Lessons for Survivors
Author: Charlie Cochrane
Publisher: Cheyenne Publishing
Genre: m/m Historical Romantic Mystery
Release Date: 8th July 2012

What inspired the story?

The Cambridge Fellows started life when I couldn't find any classic age mysteries which featured a pair of gay detectives, no matter how much I yearned to read one. So I had to write my own. That first book, Lessons in Love, spawned a whole series of which Lessons in Survivors is the ninth. The stories span 1905 to 1919; Jonty and Orlando have developed quite a following, although I daren't tell them or they'll get big headed!

This particular tale was inspired by the war poetry of Wilfred Owen (it's set in 1919 and reflects the readjustments returning soldiers had to make) and by my own love for daft puzzles and riddles, which has fed into the mystery part. And, of course, my muses for Jonty (Jamie Bamber) and Orlando (Benedict Cumberbatch) kept "nagging me" until the story was written. It's funny how some characters really get into their author's head and insist on having their adventures described. Now the little so and so's are trying to get me to write another tale about them!


“Perhaps I should save reading this until you’ve had your nap. In deference to you slowing down with age.”
“Slowing down, am I? By heavens, if you still kept a set of rooms here, rather than just this study, I’d have you over the bed and show you who’s displaying no signs whatsoever of slowing down—ow!”
“Touché.” Orlando grinned at having managed to get a pretty sharp blow in. Jonty was usually on his guard and ready to shift his leg out of the way; perhaps this was further evidence of him showing his age. “Anyway, I’ve been thinking. Maybe we shouldn’t take on anything before my lecture’s done.”
“What?” Jonty almost shot out of his armchair. “Where’s all the enthusiasm of earlier on?”
“I just want to savour anything we get involved with solving.” Orlando smoothed the letter in his hands. “Too often in the past, the investigation’s all been a dreadful rush, and that’s half the fun taken away.” Did that sound in any way convincing?
“I suppose so.  This one’s got a pretty tight deadline attached, although the thought of that always seems to galvanise you. Still, if the time’s wrong, then maybe we’ll just have to give this one a miss…” Jonty slowly took off his spectacles and put them away again. “I’ll send the Reverend Bresnan a reply along the lines of us not having sufficient time at present.” He reached out for the letter.
“How long a deadline?” Orlando felt the words come out of his mouth, although he’d only intended to think them. For all his reticence, he did like solving a conundrum while the sands were running out of the hourglass, no matter how much he protested about it at the time. It was like eating very spicy food—both a pleasure and a pain. And he wanted to prove they could still cut the investigational mustard.
“A month. So, by your reckoning, we definitely haven’t got time.” Jonty made to throw the letter on the fire, although his grip on the piece of paper remained firm.
Little bugger, he knows I can’t resist for long. He’s playing me like a fish.  Orlando stood his ground. “A month? It would be very easy to use up that much time without achieving very much. We’d have to be consulted pretty quickly, for a start, or the sands of time would already be trickling through our fingers.”  In that short a time, they might just fail, too, which was untenable.
“Well, as a matter of fact—a splendidly convenient fact—that’s not going to be a problem, as the writer is coming up to Cambridge on Thursday. But that wouldn’t be any use, would it? We shouldn’t tempt ourselves.” Once more, Jonty made a show of putting the letter away, but it still didn’t leave his hand.
“Where’s he staying?” Orlando sighed, half-defeated.
“He’ll be at the University Arms and we could leave a message there, assuming he starts out from home before I can telephone him.” Jonty folded the letter up, carefully.
“Starts out? Where’s he coming from, the Pyrenees?”
“Almost. Deepest, darkest Gloucestershire, which is almost as remote and certainly as cold.” Jonty looked particularly innocent, a sure sign he was winning the fight and knew it. “I could ring him as soon as we get home, if you want.”
Orlando sat back, conquered. A lecture to write and give, new duties to assume in the department (another change Cambridge had seen that he didn’t entirely approve of), newly arrived dunderheads to be licked into some sort of shape. He didn’t have time for a case, especially one with time pressures. But to give up now, through fear of failure, would be an act of cowardice.
 “We’ll see him over lunch on Thursday, if that’s convenient.”
“Good man.” Jonty returned the letter to his pocket, blissfully triumphant.

Where can we find your website?

Charlie doesn't just write the Cambridge Fellows Series, no matter how much her muses insist. Her stories - contemporary or historical - feature a pair of very well mannered werewolves, two actors who can't really investigate crimes (no matter how much people try to make them), an angel or two, a ghost and a paralympic swimmer.


  1. Fascinating. And you and Pirandello are certainly right: our characters often control us.

    1. Oh yes, Elliott. Often I set out to write one thing and they have something totally different in mind!