My guest today isn’t just a blinkin’ good author but also a dear friend and mentor, a fellow UK Meet Committee member, a stalwart of the writing community and an all round good egg.
Charlie is here today to celebrate her brand new release – In the Spotlight. a bundle of two stories about men who tread the boards.
Charlie, what inspired you to write these stories?
My love of sport and the theatre. In the case of All That Jazz, I was once going to a rugby match at London Irish and I saw two blokes having a row in the club car park. My mind went into overdrive and by the time I’d considered all the possibilities why they’d been arguing, I had the makings of a character. At a similar time, the all-male productions at the Globe made me wonder if an all male Chicago would be a goer – so when these two ideas conflated I had the germ of a story. (Any more detail would give it away.)
If Music Be came from another mixing of ideas. I love Will Shakespeare’s work, especially Twelfth Night; the sexual politics and gender bending in that play are mind boggling. It’s something I’ve explored before and no doubt will do again. When hubby got given a Military Wives CD, it made me wonder about military husbands and – again – these two seemingly disparate things came together to make a tale.
Have you tackled the theatre in other stories?
Oh, yes. The Cambridge Fellows found themselves embroiled with an all male production of “The Scottish Play” and “Awfully Glad” concerns a WWI officer who appears in a concert party dressed as a woman (do I detect a theme here?) I guess it’s a matter of writing about what I enjoy watching or reading about!
There’s something comfortably camp about the behavior of theatrical types, including the straight ones. They certainly seem happy touching each other when being interviewed on the television. Any thoughts?
Plenty! Cultures develop around professions and settings, so the language and interactions in the theatre will be different to those in accountancy. I’m sure the fact that actors spend a lot of time pretending to be someone else in an artificial setting must have an influence, too. Perhaps it loosens the inhibitions or something.
Mind you, that relaxed physicality can be seen in my beloved rugby, too. One of the factors must be the close contact on the pitch (hands and heads go places in scrums and rucks that they don’t go in other sports). But it isn’t just during the game – the lads are very tactile when celebrating a try, or after the match. I also see tweets from them along the lines of, “In bed with my pal x, watching TOWIE”. They’re clearly sharing a bed in the way Morecambe and Wise platonically shared a bed, as has been customary through time, but you can’t imagine a footballer making that sort of tweet, for fear of snide comments. I wonder if it’s because rugby players have nothing to prove in terms of their masculinity? After all, the world’s top rugby referee is “out” and nobody bats an eyelid.
What are you working on at the moment?
Something rather different and a bit daft, about which I’m giving no more details as I don’t want anyone else to nick the idea. J
Can we have an excerpt?
Of course! Here’s a bit from All That Jazz:
“Are you looking for someone?” An incongruously quiet voice sounded beside him.
Hardly the most original chat up line. Francis eyed the stranger warily. He’d got past the point of being impressed by smooth lotharios sporting smarmy clichés although this bloke didn’t seem like one of them. If Francis had been a betting man he’d have put twenty quid on the remark being genuine and heartfelt.
“Not really.” Francis used his huskiest tones, ones belying the clothes he wore, tones intended to impress. Whoever or whatever the bloke with the clichéd lines was, he had a stunning smile to accompany them. And an honest fresh face—as complete a contrast to Rhys fucking don’t trust him as far as you can throw him Mannering as you could get.
“Sorry, you just looked a bit lost.” The stranger turned face on, his smile now shy and losing some of its lustre.
“Maybe I am. Not sure I know anyone here.” Francis couldn’t believe he was uttering the words, and in such a bashful manner. He was used to being the confident, pushy one in these sort of joints. Or at least he’d been good at acting that part once Mannering had gone. He’d had to learn to make the running, determined not to let that poncy sod ruin any more of his life than he already had done. So why was he now admitting to some beddable bloke that he was anything less than Mr. Confidence? Especially tonight when a beddable bloke and a bottle of beer were top of his shopping list.
“You do look a bit out of place.” Another devastating smile. Why the fuck did beddable bloke make you feel like you’d never been in a bloody gay bar before? “It’s not your average pub, this place. Most of the team hang out here and it’s coloured the atmosphere.”
“The team?” Francis cast a quick glance around. The rainbow flag over the door might well have been false colours, given the butch, well built appearance of the bar’s clientele. It looked more like your average suburban local than a haunt of the spenders of the pink pound. Perhaps the flag had actually been flying over the Brasserie next door and he’d missed it in his foul temper? No, the looks and nudges he’d had were genuine enough, and he wasn’t so dragged up that he could really be mistaken for a bird.
All That Jazz
Francis Yardley may be the high kicking star of an all-male version of Chicago, but bitter, and on the booze after the breakdown of a relationship, he thinks that the chance for true love has passed him by. A handsome, shy rugby player called Tommy seems to be the answer to his problems, but Tommy doesn’t like the lipstick and lace. Can they find a way forward and is there still a chance for happiness “nowadays”?
If Music Be
Rick Cowley finds himself taking up am-dram once more, thinking it’ll help him get over the death of his partner. He’d never anticipated it would mean an encounter with an old flame and the sort of emotional complications the Bard would have revelled in. Still, old Will had the right word for every situation, didn’t he?
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. Romances, mysteries, sometimes historical and occasionally hysterical. Rumours that she has written about weresloths are true.
Charlie’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, and regularly appears with The Deadly Dames.