Latest blog posts

Charlie’s latest newsletter

 I hope that spring is springing as beautifully wherever you are as it is here in England. The daffodils have been stunning and now it’s the turn of the bluebells and the blossom and they’re making the most of it.
 
News
 
It’s a busy old time. I’m reaching the last stages of the first draft for the next Lindenshaw book, alongside doing the edits for the upcoming Alasdair and Toby novel which will be out this summer. Amazing what you find that you didn’t get right in the first or second draft!
 
Event wise, I’m taking part in two panels at the Bold Strokes Books UK Bookathon on Sunday June 6th. I promise to be on my best behaviour – sort of – but the fact that Cari Hunter and I are on the same panel doesn’t bode well for us not descending into fits of giggles.
 

 
Meanwhile, I’m getting together with some other cracking authors, including my old muckers RJ Scott and Anne Barwell, to highlight some of the excellent hurt/comfort books there are lurking about out there waiting to be read.
 

Excerpt –
 
Has to be an excerpt from Lessons in Discovery, doesn’t it? Here’s the hurt coming up… 
 
It was such a fine afternoon, they ventured far beyond the lock to a stretch of river where a few rowing eights were practicing, their red-faced coaches cycling along the towpath, scattering ducks and little old ladies as they went.
“Did you ever attempt rowing, Dr. Coppersmith?” They’d been content to use Christian names when they were in public on holiday, but back in their own city they’d gone back to their usual formality.
“I did, with no great success. Every time I took to a boat I seemed to have acquired an extra pair of knees and all four of the bony things kept trying to smack me in the ear.”
Orlando laughed and Jonty laughed with him. Orlando’s attitudes had changed beyond all recognition this past year. Before Jonty had come and stolen his chair, he’d been sullen, unsmiling, someone who viewed intercourse as akin to the preparation of Egyptian mummies—he knew the procedures existed, but the mechanisms were a puzzle and the process itself of no interest. Neither love nor easy laughter would have been possible before Jonty came along. Anything was possible now, even intimacy. Now they made love for all sorts of reasons, not just for gratification but in friendship, for consolation, because they were happy or because they were sad.
Jonty smiled indulgently as they walked along, even while he was sniggering just a little at the sight of a seven-foot oarsman suffering a tongue-lashing from a cox who was all of four foot eleven. He could see this idyllic life stretching long into the future, God willing, with his true love by his side and a bank balance full of his grandmother’s money to support them in whatever they decided to do. To buy a little house, with an apple tree in the garden and a flowering cherry outside the bedroom window, that would be ideal. Some of the furniture held in store for him up in London or down in Sussex could grace it, although it might seem rather grand for a little villa up the Madingley Road. If Orlando would ever agree to their buying one.
The two men tired of watching the rowing, turned and began to amble back to the college, a slight anticipation starting to bubble up in Jonty’s stomach. There was every chance that he could get Orlando into a bed this afternoon, and that would be an absolute delight. Even if the mattress wasn’t visited there would still be at least a hug or two on the sofa which was always very pleasant. They’d reached a stage where the last favours were not the be-all and end-all, wonderful as they were. Jonty cast a glance across at his lover and caught him, unquestionably, in the same act of anticipation.
Orlando blushed, something that hadn’t happened for a long time. I know what you’re contemplating, Jonty mused. Great minds definitely do think alike.
Their pace quickened and by the time they’d reached the Bishop’s Cope they were no longer just ambling but striding along with great purpose. Their tempo was brisk by the time they passed the porters’ lodge and they positively sped up Jonty’s staircase, eager to find themselves alone and safe to express their affection.
Orlando was taking the steps two at a time, as usual, in his desire to be in the room as soon as possible. He misjudged the edge of a particularly worn stair, which had endured hundreds of years’ worth of treading and wasn’t inclined to be kind anymore, then slipped. Perhaps nine times out of ten a man might have done that and suffered no worse than bruised knees or a scraped hand. Orlando suffered the ignominies of the tenth, and went clattering halfway down the flight.
It was ironic. Orlando normally led the way, making the joke that Jonty should be behind him in case he slipped, so that there would be adequate padding to break his fall. But this day Jonty was ahead, even more eager to reach the room than his friend was. He heard the tumble, turned—dismayed—and rushed back.
“Orlando!” the rule about names was immediately broken. This was a moment of crisis, as the minute Jonty looked down he could see that his friend wasn’t moving. “Can you hear me? Are you all right?” He reached the crumpled body, was relieved to see the chest rising and falling and to hear that the breathing sounded clear.
But there was no response, not even a moan, and blood had begun to trickle from the back of Orlando’s head.
Jonty leapt up, his heart racing and a nauseous feeling filling his stomach. He knocked at the nearest door, demanding that the occupant go to the lodge to make the porters fetch a doctor. The inhabitant of the next room was sent for Nurse Hatfield. He returned to keep an eye on Orlando, making sure that he was comfortable and not about to do anything dramatic like swallow his tongue. It was all he could do, apart from worry himself sick.
 
 
Lots of love
 
Charlie
 
 
 

Charlie’s latest newsletter

A special welcome to all of you who’ve subscribed to this newsletter as part of RJ Scott’s March Madness event. I promise I won’t spam you: I always bring news and I often bring freebies, like today.

It’s lovely to see spring breaking out all around and the clocks go forward here tonight so I hope you’re looking forward to the joys of longer evenings as much as I am.
 
News
 
I’ve been a busy old bee: hard on the heels of getting Lessons in Following a Poisonous Trail into print I’ve also got Lessons in Solving the Wrong Problem into paperback. As promised, that’s all the Cambridge Fellows novellas available in paperback.
 

 
There have been lots of events online recently, with prizes galore for some very lucky winners. Authors in general seem to be so generous with their time, talents and goodies. It can be such a pleasure to be part of that community. One of the positives about the pandemic has been forcing us to find new ways to do things and that’s included different events. Please keep an eye out for whether your local library is holding author talks or the like: I ‘attended’ a cracking one featuring Peter Lovesey this week.
My next event is another one of RJ’s, the autism facebook group/page hop on April 2nd. You’ll be able to take part (and be in with a chance of winning prizes) when the event goes live on the day. You’ll be able to find my post here.
 
Free story – Blitz
 
Unlike last time, this isn’t a brand new story although it may be new to some of you as it dates back to when I was first published, in 2008!
 
What chance can any budding romance have, against a background of air raids and huddling in shelters?
 
The beer tasted bloody good. Plenty of people were saying that ale now didn’t taste like it had pre-war, that everything had gone downhill, but Adam Jackson couldn’t agree. As far as he was concerned, there was too much looking back with rose tinted spectacles going on. He couldn’t deny the fact that stuff was in short supply, that the things people had taken so much for granted were now luxuries (if they were obtainable at all), but these were all small sacrifices compared to those that some people were making.
He looked at the two men at the bar, their short flying jackets and insignia on their collars making their roles in this great pageant unmistakable. A frisson of jealousy slid down Adam’s spine. It was the role he’d have chosen above all others, but no one was going to sign up a man who was liable to have a fit flying a thousand feet over Kent. Temporal lobe epilepsy they called it and it was a bloody nuisance. He knew that the job he was doing, acting as liaison between the intelligence agencies and the War Cabinet, was valuable. Some people would say his role was more important than Johnny-head-in-air, but it hardly had the glamour or the prestige, did it?
A familiar face poked its nose around the door, seemed to hesitate, then entered the pub. Dr. Scarborough was one of the decoders who dealt with Churchill’s incoming and outgoing signals, and everyone thought very highly of him. Office gossip said he was a bit of a loner, living on his own in a flat up Highgate way, and that he’d such a fierce intellect he’d even been down to Bletchley on occasions to give them advice.  You couldn’t have found a stronger contrast to Adam, who was socially aware, able but not over intellectual, and still living at home with a loving, if over-exuberant, family.
Scarborough made a gesture of recognition and seemed pleased when Adam beckoned him over. They’d had a pint together a couple of times before and always enjoyed each other’s company, with perhaps a spark of something else in the background. Conversation had always centred on family, work, this bloody war, how long London could withstand the German bombs. Today was no different, and they chatted contentedly over their beer, until the violent backfiring of a car in the street made Scarborough start.
“Are you all right, old man?” Adam was genuinely concerned. He knew exactly what it was to be on edge, now that the air raids were becoming a nightly occurrence. Everyone’s nerves were being tested.
“I’m sorry. It’s just that the house along the road from mine copped it two nights ago and then the one over the way was hit last night. It feels like they’re making a bee-line for me.”
“You can come and stay with us. I’m not sure it’s any safer in Kensington than in Highgate, but at least you wouldn’t be on your own. There’s solace in numbers if not safety.” Adam made the offer out of the blue, having no idea why he was being so bold.
 
Read more here.
 
Lots of love

Charlie
 

Charlie’s latest newsletter

It’s Mothering Sunday this weekend, so halfway through Lent to Easter. Where has the year gone? And does that make me sound very old, talking about time flying? I must be old, because I’ve had my first Covid jab and the second is booked. 😊
 
News
 
You’ll be – I hope – delighted to know that Lessons in Following a Poisonous Trail is now available in print and that I’ll be getting Lessons in Solving the Wrong Problem into print version soon. That will make all the Cambridge Fellows novellas available in paperback.
 
Prizes, prizes, prizes! Actually, a whole bundle of them for one lucky winner, including 3 x $5 gift cards, 7 x backlist ebooks, 2 x audio codes, a signed paperback…and a partridge in a pear tree. To be fair, there isn’t actually a partridge or a pear tree, but all the rest will be there, from the authors: NR Walker, L.C. Chase, Meredith Spies, C F White, Rachel Ember, Charley Descoteaux, Jacy Braegan, G.R. Lyons, Talia Carmichael, Selina Kray, Tal Bauer, Ruby Moone – and me.

Very simple to enter, just go here and use your email address. Better still, share the event, or follow one of the many authors involved on Bookbub,  and you’ll get extra entries. 
The winner will be randomly selected on 23 March (my birthday, but that’s just a coincidence) at 9:00 GMT.
 

 To celebrate the event, I wrote a special Lindenshaw piece, namely Campbell the Newfoundland’s view of his two dads. It’s here in its entirety:
 
I’ve never had such a fuss made of me as I have today.
Okay, that might be an exaggeration. I suppose you have to count that time where I took on the bloke with the knife. They were all over me like fleas, afterwards, checking I was okay and then giving me my favourite food for weeks. I’m not sure what all the palaver was about as I was only doing my job: I had no choice but to fix my jaws around his arm, did I? Got to stand up for my dads.
Oh yeah, and there was another time before that. Some stuck up tart was in my kitchen, within reach of my Bonios, waving a gun about and generally being a pain, so I went for her. A dog’s got to protect hearth and home. My other dad wasn’t my other dad at that point—child of a single parent, that was me—but then the murder case got solved and Adam wasn’t a suspect anymore. Which meant Robin and him could play smoochy smoochy. They did that a lot: still do, now that Robin’s moved in permanently.
I hope it’s permanent.
I love Adam to little bits, even if he wasn’t my first parent. That was a big, warm mummy dog although I barely remember her. Then there were two older people, who looked like Adam but they went away somewhere and I never saw them again. After that Adam came to live in my house and be my new dad and once I’d got him house-trained and into the right routine we got along swimmingly. (See what I did there? We Newfoundlands are known for our abilities in water although I rarely get the chance to show them off.)
Sometimes other blokes came round to see Adam but I’m glad none of them stayed that long. Not up to the required standard. I set the bar high and nothing is too good for my dad as far as I’m concerned. He looks after me better than many other dogs of my acquaintance are looked after. We canines all have a chat, when we meet up at park and our dads—or mums—are having a gossip, so I know how well-off I am. I have a servant who comes in during the day, attending to my every whim, which isn’t something all other dogs have. Dog-walking services people come for them sometimes, although they hardly sound a barrel of laughs.
Now Sandra—my servant—always chats to me and not in that stupid way people address me or other dog., You know,  like we’re babies. Sandra and I have deep, meaningful conversations about the state of the world and what I think of the music she’s playing. I can’t say that REM are my taste although I am partial to the Pet Shop Boys.
What was I talking about before we got onto dog-walkers? Oh yes, dads.
Robin’s got a difficult job. I know that because he likes me and Adam to get involved in it, catching murderers and other low-lifes. Of course, he says he doesn’t want us to be tangled up in his cases, but a dog has to do what a dog has to do. Anyway, when Robin gets home after a hard day, he needs a cold, wet nose in his hand and sometimes a good licking. I supply the nose and Adam and I share the licking bit. Robin also enjoys curling up with me on the sofa, watching the football—I really like Harry Kane—or the rugby. I bet I’d be good at pushing in those scrums.
Back to today. Sorry if I keep going off on a tangent. It’s a dog thing.
Sandra’s been busy this last week, cooking, cleaning and rehearsing me for my big day. I had to learn to carry a waterproof bag with two rings in it, walk along in a straight line and then drop the thing at Adam’s feet, before going back to where I started and sitting on my blanket. Not sure why I needed to practice at all, because it was pretty simple. I suppose if I’d been one of these breeds that are thick as two short planks (no names, no pack drill) it might have challenged my little grey cells, but Newfoundlands are intellectual sorts.
So off we went today to a posh pub, where there was a little audience awaiting me, including my two grandmas who were wearing the biggest hats you’ve ever seen. If you’d turned them over, you could have got half a ton of dog biscuits in each one. I was dolled up with a white bow tie, which looked very classy against my black fur. I did the carrying-the-rings thing, which everyone thought was amazing. The grans cried, which I reckon was a bit excessive, although if they’d been looking forward to my performance, I can understand them getting emotional.
After I’d done my bit there was more stuff with both the dads and lots of talking and something about the rings. The grans cried again. (That noise is my eyes rolling.) Then we all went and had lots of pictures taken—everyone wanted one with me, of course—after which there was food. And more food. Someone gave me a splash of beer but that was horrible. No idea why the dads seem to like it so much.
The grans fussed over me, as did everyone else, because clearly it was some big important event, although I’m still not clear exactly what. The dads have both been wearing those rings since then, so I guess it was something to with them showing how much they love me. And love each other.
 
 
 
Charlie
 
 
 

March madness – prizes galore (and a special treat from me)

Am delighted to be a part of a cracking event with so many lovely authors. (And thanks to my old mucker RJ Scott for inviting me to join in.)

One lucky winner will win a bundle of prizes including 3 x $5 gift cards, 7 x backlist ebooks, 2 x audio code, & a signed paperback -from the following authors: NR Walker, L.C. Chase, Meredith Spies, C F White, Rachel Ember, Charley Descoteaux, Jacy Braegan, G.R. Lyons, Talia Carmichael, Selina Kray, Tal Bauer, Ruby Moone and me!

bookfunnel insta

You can enter here: http://bit.ly/MMRJGp2 the winner will be randomly selected on 23 March at 9:00 GMT. (And if you share the event and/or follow me or the other authors at Bookbub, you’ll get extra entries!)

AND NOW…

Have you ever wondered what Campbell, the dog from the Lindenshaw books, thinks about (apart from dog biscuits?) Here’s an exclusive peek into his doggy brain!

#RJMarchMadness #MMRomance #GayRomance #GLBTQRomance #AuthorCompetition  #CharlieCochrane #LindenshawMysteries

A Dog’s Eye View – Campbell the Newfoundland’s view of a certain couple

I’ve never had such a fuss made of me as I have today.

Okay, that might be an exaggeration. I suppose you have to count that time where I took on the bloke with the knife. They were all over me like fleas, afterwards, checking I was okay and then giving me my favourite food for weeks. I’m not sure what all the palaver was about as I was only doing my job: I had no choice but to fix my jaws around his arm, did I? Got to stand up for my dads.

Oh yeah, and there was another time before that. Some stuck up tart was in my kitchen, within reach of my Bonios, waving a gun about and generally being a pain, so I went for her. A dog’s got to protect hearth and home. My other dad wasn’t my other dad at that point—child of a single parent, that was me—but then the murder case got solved and Adam wasn’t a suspect anymore. Which meant Robin and him could play smoochy smoochy. They did that a lot: still do, now that Robin’s moved in permanently.

I hope it’s permanent.

I love Adam to little bits, even if he wasn’t my first parent. That was a big, warm mummy dog although I barely remember her. Then there were two older people, who looked like Adam but they went away somewhere and I never saw them again. After that Adam came to live in my house and be my new dad and once I’d got him house-trained and into the right routine we got along swimmingly. (See what I did there? We Newfoundlands are known for our abilities in water although I rarely get the chance to show them off.)

Sometimes other blokes came round to see Adam but I’m glad none of them stayed that long. Not up to the required standard. I set the bar high and nothing is too good for my dad as far as I’m concerned. He looks after me better than many other dogs of my acquaintance are looked after. We canines all have a chat, when we meet up at park and our dads—or mums—are having a gossip, so I know how well-off I am. I have a servant who comes in during the day, attending to my every whim, which isn’t something all other dogs have. Dog-walking services people come for them sometimes, although they hardly sound a barrel of laughs.

Now Sandra—my servant—always chats to me and not in that stupid way people address me or other dog., You know,  like we’re babies. Sandra and I have deep, meaningful conversations about the state of the world and what I think of the music she’s playing. I can’t say that REM are my taste although I am partial to the Pet Shop Boys.

What was I talking about before we got onto dog-walkers? Oh yes, dads.

Robin’s got a difficult job. I know that because he likes me and Adam to get involved in it, catching murderers and other low-lifes. Of course, he says he doesn’t want us to be tangled up in his cases, but a dog has to do what a dog has to do. Anyway, when Robin gets home after a hard day, he needs a cold, wet nose in his hand and sometimes a good licking. I supply the nose and Adam and I share the licking bit. Robin also enjoys curling up with me on the sofa, watching the football—I really like Harry Kane—or the rugby. I bet I’d be good at pushing in those scrums.

Back to today. Sorry if I keep going off on a tangent. It’s a dog thing.

Sandra’s been busy this last week, cooking, cleaning and rehearsing me for my big day. I had to learn to carry a waterproof bag with two rings in it, walk along in a straight line and then drop the thing at Adam’s feet, before going back to where I started and sitting on my blanket. Not sure why I needed to practice at all, because it was pretty simple. I suppose if I’d been one of these breeds that are thick as two short planks (no names, no pack drill) it might have challenged my little grey cells, but Newfoundlands are intellectual sorts.

So off we went today to a posh pub, where there was a little audience awaiting me, including my two grandmas who were wearing the biggest hats you’ve ever seen. If you’d turned them over, you could have got half a ton of dog biscuits in each one. I was dolled up with a white bow tie, which looked very classy against my black fur. I did the carrying-the-rings thing, which everyone thought was amazing. The grans cried, which I reckon was a bit excessive, although if they’d been looking forward to my performance, I can understand them getting emotional.

After I’d done my bit there was more stuff with both the dads and lots of talking and something about the rings. The grans cried again. (That noise is my eyes rolling.) Then we all went and had lots of pictures taken—everyone wanted one with me, of course—after which there was food. And more food. Someone gave me a splash of beer but that was horrible. No idea why the dads seem to like it so much.

The grans fussed over me, as did everyone else, because clearly it was some big important event, although I’m still not clear exactly what. The dads have both been wearing those rings since then, so I guess it was something to with them showing how much they love me. And love each other.

TwoFeetUnder_200x300

#RJMarchMadness #MMRomance #GayRomance #GLBTQRomance #AuthorCompetition  #CharlieCochrane #LindenshawMysteries

Watch this space…

A couple of things on the horizon. I’m aware that not all the Cambridge Fellows novellas are available in print so it’s on my ‘to do’ list to rectify that ASAP. Also, as part of an upcoming promo event I’ll be casting a new light on the Lindenshaw Mysteries by giving Campbell the Newfoundland’s viewpoint on his two dads and their relationship.

Charlie’s latest newsletter

 
Hot on the heels of the snow, we’ve had some glorious spring-like days. The sun has shone, the sky has been blue as Jonty’s eyes, the birds have been singing their little hearts out and generally everybody has felt more upbeat.
 
News
 
Portsmouth online Bookfest has been a great success. I was very pleased with the two panels I was involved with (and saw some familiar names/faces from around the globe in the audiences). There are a few events still to come, especially the always-marvellous Mystery Fest. The keynote speaker this year is discussing wildlife crime and if he’s half as good as the equivalent last year, who discussed modern police questioning techniques, the audience are in for a treat.
 
My next ‘live’ appearance should be an RNA interview in April. More news once I have it. Talking of which, I should have some more concrete news about a couple of stories, soon, including that new Alasdair and Toby story. I never announce until contracts are signed, so – as they say – watch this space.
 
Fancy a bargain? Riptide is having a clearance sale on paperbacks. Don’t think any of mine are in there, but some of them are on special offer, such as Best Corpse for the Job.  Riptide also do some great “bundles” including the complete set of Porthkennack stories which includes two of mine, Broke Deep and Count the Shells. Here’s a smidge from the latter, which (though I say it as shouldn’t) I think is one of the best novels I’ve ever written.
 
Michael Gray returned from World War One injured, but at least he returned. Others were not so fortunate, including his first and greatest love, Thomas Carter-Clemence, with whom Michael had parted bitterly before the conflict began.
Broch, the Carter-Clemence home in Porthkennack, was an integral part of pre-war holidays for the Grays, the two families drawn together in the wake of their sons’ friendship. Returning to the once-beloved Cornish coast for a break with his sister and her family, Michael has to find the courage to face old memories . . . and dare new relationships.
When Thomas’s brother Harry makes an unexpected appearance, Michael is surprised to find himself deeply attracted to Harry for his own sake. But as their relationship heats up, it unearths startling revelations and bitter truths. Michael must decide whether Harry is the answer to his prayers or the last straw to break an old soldier’s back.

Excerpt:
 
Michael steered his sister towards the flower bed, which lay in full bloom by the steps up to the house, then stopped. “Richard mentioned Thomas.”
Caroline frowned. “Did he?”
“I wouldn’t have said if he hadn’t, would I? Sorry,” he stroked her hand, “shouldn’t have snapped at you. He did. He said he was highly amused by the state of Thomas’s hair in a photograph you must have of the both of us. I didn’t realise you’d kept one.”
Caroline, blushing, kept her gaze on the petunias. “Oh, it’s an old one. I have it at home. Remembrance of when we were much younger. You and me here, Thomas at Broch, Eric at— Whatever was his uncle’s house called?”
“Cataclews.” It had been a ghastly gothic pile, on its last legs when Eric’s family had used it for holidays. “The only good thing about it was being the vehicle to his meeting us.”
“So he says, as well.” Caroline smiled. “Anyway, that picture kept me going all those long days when the family waited for the next letter from you.”
Michael nodded. Many a photograph must have kept families, wives, and sweethearts comforted over the years. “Not just me, I suspect. You always had a soft spot for Thomas, didn’t you?”
“He was rather handsome. We all liked him.”
Did she know how far Michael’s liking had gone? It wasn’t something they could ever have freely discussed, but Caroline was far from stupid. She must have noticed exchanges of glances, overheard whispers or mysterious laughter, wondered why Michael wasn’t quite the same with Thomas as he was with other friends. Or had she simply assumed that was how men were when they had close friendships? Many people lived in blissful ignorance of what really went on between some couples of the same gender who shared a house or habitually holidayed together.
“Michael?” Caroline nudged him. “Are you feeling all right?”
“Yes. Just lost in memories. I can almost see him here, now. Running along this very lawn with that wretched kite.”
“The one he couldn’t get to fly?” Caroline snorted.
“That’s the one.” They’d have been fifteen, the family holidaying here and Michael introducing Thomas to them for the first time. He’d lived not far away, at a house called Broch, which was apparently some type of ancient Scottish dwelling and had been the brainchild of a previous, Celtic, owner of the property. Thomas had dropped in on the Grays on an almost daily basis, although nobody had complained at the intrusion. As Caroline had pointed out, he had been universally liked. It had been a glorious summer of warmth and light, the two boys teetering on the brink of understanding that their camaraderie was not like that of their schoolmates. “I was glad when that kite broke. I always felt he’d get so enthralled he wouldn’t realise where he was running and he’d go down the path and right over the cliff with it.”
Caroline, sly smile creeping over her face, patted his hand. “I have a terrible confession to make, although I won’t do it until you swear you won’t tell Richard.”
“I swear,” Michael promised, intrigued.
“I was the one who broke that kite. I had exactly the same concern as you did—he was so terribly reckless, so . . .” She shrugged. “I’ve lived with it on my conscience, but it had to be done.”
“And it was well done. I was tempted to do the same, but never had the courage. I wonder if he ever suspected?” Although given that Thomas had such an open, trusting mind, that was unlikely.
“I always feel it’s a shame I couldn’t have taken up all those guns in France and broken them. Such a waste, but you don’t need that particular sermon.” Caroline shook herself. “Come on, luncheon.”
 
Charlie
 
 
 

The joys of virtual bookfests

A year ago I’d just finished one panel at Portsmouth Bookfest and was prepping for another couple. It was a brilliant festival and turned out to be the last live author event before lockdowns hit. I was delighted to find out it was going online this year and grabbed a couple of chances to take part. Last week I did a panel about ‘finishing your book and doing something with it subsequently’ and this week I was among a group of folk discussing lost detectives. Both times I ended up moderating and both times the panel appeared to be a huge success.

Now, there’s something special about seeing people in person and I don’t just mean the opportunity to sell one’s books. There’s an interaction that isn’t available online. However, that’s outweighed by several advantages of going ‘Zoom’. We had people in the audience from all over the place, including the USA. People were able to put questions and remarks into the chat facility that wouldn’t be possible in the usual setting as it would see rude. And, last but not least, no long drive home in the dark.

There are still some events coming up including the wonderful MysteryFest. Booking is online and very easy

Charlie’s latest newsletter

 
We’ve had more snow! And, true to my promise, I was out in it making two whole families of snow-frogs before it became unusable. Yes, under the respectable-sixty-something-woman exterior, there lies a seven year old boy just itching to have fun!
 
News
 
Last chance to get you tickets for Portsmouth online Bookfest. Lots of excellent panels, two of which yours truly is on.
 
February 17th 7pm GMT I’m with Liam Livings, Clare London and Sue Brown talking about helping you to finish your book and know what to do with it.
 Do you have a half-completed novel you’d love to finish? Or a finished novel that you’re not sure what to do with? Let us help you take the next step along the road to watching that novel leave the nest. In this panel we’ll cover: Ways to get that unfinished manuscript over the line, without it fizzling out. The common mistakes that authors make in their first—and subsequent!—drafts and how to rectify these. What options you have when your story is complete and next steps for making the most of them.
 
February 24th 7pm GMT I’m putting on my mystery hat to discuss forgotten fictional detectives.
This panel will introduce five fictional detectives who have slipped out of public notice. They will range from the first Victorian lady detective written by a woman; an Artificial Intelligence Personality living near Washington DC; a multi-talented detective who rarely sleeps(Charlie’s note – that’s the one I’m championing!) and the father and son detectives that Ellis Peters abandoned when Brother Cadfael took over her life. 
 
Guest author
 
I don’t often have guests in my newsletter, but I’ve known Anne Barwell since Noah was a boy, so I was delighted when she agreed to a short interview about her new release:
Authors say that they can’t choose a favourite book, as that would be like choosing a favourite child. So, what is it about this book that gave you particular pleasure in the writing of it?
The first book in this series was the first story I wrote that I knew would be a full book – in fact, it ended up being a three book series.  With Winter Duet I enjoyed incorporating music into the storyline. When I did my music papers at uni one of the lectures was about coded messages in music, and I’d always wanted to do something with that.  One of the pieces I studied in that paper makes an appearance in the book too.
Have you/would you write a storyline with Covid in it?
I haven’t, and to be honest I’m not sure I’d want to. I have addressed the 1918 epidemic in my historicals though.  One of my characters in this story lost his parents to the Spanish Flu.
What’s the single most surprising piece of research you’ve done?
In a contemporary paranormal book I have coming out later this year, I researched how to weaponise a fire sprinkler system.

Who do you trust when no one is who they seem? Winter Duet, book 2 of Anne Barwell’s WWII Echoes Rising series is now available for pre-order on Amazon , and on Payhip until 15th February. When it releases on Amazon on 17th February it will be available in KU for the first time. 


  
Sneak Peek at an upcoming release
 
Remember I was talking about the next Toby and Alasdair story, the one which started off as a case of poison pen letters but quickly grew into a hunt for a mass murderer? I’m pleased to say it has a publisher – more news when the details are finalised. In celebration, here’s an (as yet not fully edited) excerpt.
 
London, 1952
 
“With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship.” Alasdair Hamilton took Fiona Marsden’s dainty left hand in his, while in his right he held the wedding ring, turning it to catch the light.
Fiona, eyes alive with demure expectation, smiled with exactly the right amount of promise of passion to come.
“With all my worldly—”
“Alasdair!” Alexander Rattigan’s voice rang out across the studio floor. How vexatious. Alasdair couldn’t remember the last time a director had stopped him in mid-scene.  He, Toby Bowe and Fiona—the stellar trio whose performances filled Landseer Pictures’ coffers—prided themselves on the paucity of takes they required to get a scene safely in the can. The Royal Romance was proving no exception to the rule.
“Sorry to interrupt you both but there’s a buzzing coming from somewhere. You may not be picking it up but the microphones will. Irrespective of that, it’s extremely annoying.” Alexander turned to his assistant, an efficient young man who was becoming invaluable on the set.
“Jack, will you see if you can find out where that infernal row is emanating from and put a stop to it? The rest of you can take a break while we sort this out.”
“Relief at last,” Toby said, rolling his shoulders and taking off his plumed, royal blue tricorn hat. “I know this is a royal wedding scene but I feel like the queen of the May.”
“How do you think I feel?” Fiona said, fanning herself with an ivory-coloured prayer book. “I’ve got six petticoats on under here. This is what it must be like to be a mille feuille. Do you think anyone—even royalty—really wore things like this in the eighteenth century? It would have driven me mad.”
“I doubt anybody wore anything resembling what the wardrobe department turns out. In any era or setting.” Alasdair, perspiring under the lights, imitated Fiona’s fanning motion with his hat, much to the consternation of his dresser, who came haring up and took it from him. “Alexander, please can we take a small break? My forehead’s dripping and that noise is becoming a distinct nuisance.”
“Of course. Back to your dressing rooms where you have them, please and we’ll aim to resume in twenty minutes. By which time the buzz will have—aha!” To everyone’s relief the noise, which had been steadily increasing in decibels, suddenly ceased.
The four actors under the lights, which included one venerable old soul portraying the archbishop who was conducting the ceremony, headed for the comfort of their dressing rooms, although Alasdair deliberately took his time. He for one wanted to know what had caused the wretched noise and curiosity took precedence over relief for the moment. Not least because he was still annoyed at being interrupted when he’d been giving one of his best performances. He was unlikely to be taking the wedding vows himself at any point and he’d secretly imagined he was saying the words to Toby, which was producing an air of authenticity that would stand out on the screen. The audiences would believe that he was either a brilliant actor or he harboured a secret passion for Fiona which for some reason would never be requited, probably because she was secretly engaged to one of the dashing gentlemen on whose arm she was often draped.
If the adoring public knew that Fiona was quietly heading for marriage to an orthopaedic surgeon, whereas Toby and Alasdair had eyes for nobody but each other, they’d have been—respectively—disappointed and horrified. Except in the case of the more understanding females and the gents who occasionally sent the two male stars anonymous but passionate missives.
In terms of maintaining their image, both professionally and personally, Alasdair hoped to be able to repeat the same quality of performance when the scene came to be shot again.
“Jack, well done.” Alexander’s words snapped Alasdair out of the thoughts he’d been lost in. The director’s assistant had reappeared, gingerly carrying something. “What was making that din?”
“This.” Jack held out a small, slightly battered metal object. “It appears to be a battery-operated device whose sole purpose is to produce a buzz. An increasingly loud buzz, at that. By the time I found it, the thing was almost unbearable to get close to.”
“Where was it? Alasdair asked.
“Wedged under a chair. Easy to locate, given the racket.” Jack shook his head. “I couldn’t work out how to turn it off so I found a hammer and smashed the wretched machine.”
 
With lots of love 
 
Charlie