Welcome back to my Romantic Novelists Association feature. We had a slight technical hitch with the blog and I lost all my prepared posts. Now am back on track and I will have a different author on the blog, talking to me about their books. It is to help celebrate the sixtieth birthday of the RNA and to raise awareness of how it might be a great fit for you if you are an author. I hope you enjoy the features over the next few weeks. Be sure to give the authors a follow on social media and add the books you fancy from the selection of great authors to your own TBR.
❤️Romantic Novelists Association
The Romantic Novelists’ Association was founded in 1960 to both celebrate, and demand respect for, romantic fiction. Founder members included Denise Robins, Barbara Cartland, Elizabeth Goudge, Netta Muskett, Catherine Cookson and Rosamunde Pilcher. The first President of the Association, Denise Robins, noted that although romantic fiction gave great pleasure to many readers, the writers almost felt they had to apologise for what they did. The RNA was going to put a stop to those apologies and, instead, celebrate and promote romantic authorship.
In 1966, an early Vice President of the association, Elizabeth Goudge, commented that ‘As this world becomes increasingly ugly, callous and materialistic it needs to be reminded that the old fairy stories are rooted in truth, that imagination is of value, that happy endings do, in fact, occur, and that the blue spring mist that makes and ugly street look beautiful is just as real a thing as the street itself.’
Today, the RNA continues to support and champion the authorship of romantic fiction that shows the value of imagination and the possibility of a happy ending and also celebrates the broader spectrum of romantic fiction that explores the more challenging aspects of relationships and human experience.
❤️ An Act Of Detection by Charlie Cochrane
Stars of the silver screen Alasdair Hamilton and Toby Bowe wow the post WWII audiences with their performances. But when they depict Holmes and Watson life starts to imitate art. They get asked in by a friend to investigate a mysterious disappearance only to find a series of threatening letters—and an unwanted suitor—make real life very different from the movies.Then there’s an unpleasant co-star who’s found murdered during an opening night. Surely detection can’t be that hard?
Because Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes both romances and mysteries, including the Edwardian era Cambridge Fellows series, and the contemporary Lindenshaw Mysteries. Multi-published, she has titles with Carina, Riptide, Endeavour 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.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey, please?
I always say I was accidentally published. I had a pal I knew through fanfiction who was published with a small American publisher: She was putting together an anthology of three romance novellas and asked if I’d like to be involved. In a mad moment, I said yes. I’d started to write the Cambridge Fellows series of romantic mysteries by then and the small publisher took them up. A few months later, in a moment of great good fortune, the publisher was taken over by Samhain, so I found myself with a much bigger independent publisher and a springboard for my writing career.
Can you tell us how you became involved with the Romantic Novelists Association and what it means for you to be part of it?
This is slightly embarrassing, but I genuinely don’t remember the details. In mitigation, I plead my age and the fact it happened ten years ago. It was in my early days as a published author so I must have been doing my research, saw there was a local chapter who met at a convenient place and time, so I got in contact and went along. Everyone was so welcoming, so accepting of the fact I was a) a newbie and b) wrote gay romance that I felt immediately at home and have kept attending the lunches since. In fact, I’m now the chapter contact.
I’ve learned so much from talking to other authors, like the wonderful and much-missed June Tate, and in those early days it was a great boost for my confidence because I was the fount of knowledge on ebooks!
What was the inspiration behind your latest release?
I love old films. I also loved the radio series Round the Horne, which had a recurring sketch taking the mickey out of those same 40s and 50s black and white British films which are so close to my heart. I wrote, for an anthology, a humorous but at heart serious short story about two gay matinee idols who had to hide their offscreen relationship. Later, I thought it might be fun to write a longer piece about them, with them depicting Holmes and Watson onscreen then trying their hands at amateur detective offscreen. An Act of Detection contains two romantic mystery novellas: in one of they go in search of a missing person and in the other they hunt down a murderer.
Do you find it hard to let your characters go when you finish writing the book?
No, but some of them seem to want to cling to me. I have a long running series – the Cambridge Fellows Mysteries – and every time I think, “Well that’s the last story,” the two protagonists whisper in my ear, “Guess what adventure we got involved with next?” So, I guess the broad answer is that I’m happy to let the “standalones” go, but the series characters are a different matter.
What was your favourite read of 2019?
A book from 1952, ‘Death in Captivity’ by Michael Gilbert. Not a romance but a brilliant cosy mystery, set in a POW camp in Italy and – for those of us who love the film ‘The Great Escape’ – a real insight into life in such a place. Gilbert was himself a POW, so the story rings true beautifully.
Do you read other romance authors and who would you recommend?
I confess that my main reading pleasure is mysteries – although they often have a romance involved, don’t they? For me, the courtships of Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane or Inspector Alleyn/Agatha Troy are two classic love stories, even though they’re not quite category romance because the story arc spreads over several books.
For a recommendation, I’d give a little known, highly talented, American writer of historical gay romance, Tamara Allen. Especially her wonderful ‘Whistling in the Dark’.
Was there a point in your life that a book helped you get through, if so which one?
Not specifically, although books have always given me light relief’, entertainment and a means of being taken out of myself when I’ve needed it. It may sound peculiar, but there’s nothing like immersing yourself in a good old-fashioned whodunnit to raise your spirits.
Is there anyone that you would like to mention and thank for their support of your writing?
How long have we got? Lee Rowan, the fanfiction pal who first got me published and all the members of the local RNA chapter for their support. Carol Westron and the late Eileen Robertson for getting me involved with The Deadly Dames, and the gay romance writing community (author, readers and reviewers) who have helped me see things in perspective. Writing can be a lonely job, so that meaningful networking is important.
If you had the power to give everyone in the world one book, what would it be and why?
Billy’s Beetle. It’s a children’s book which bears many a rereading and raises many a smile. That’s what we all need at the moment.
What are you working on now?
A couple of things, both romantic mysteries. One is the first draft of the next Cambridge fellows novella, in which somebody may have been poisoned after a rugby match and the second is the edits for ‘A Carriage of Misjustice’, which is the next Lindenshaw book and also involves a murder at a rugby ground. I seem to have a theme emerging here…
Lastly, do you have any questions for your readers?
Yes. Is there a book you’d like to read that hasn’t yet been written? Either by me or by someone else?
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❤️ Connect with Me
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Thank you to Charlie for taking part in my special feature.