Today I have guest author Charlie Cochrane with me, sharing Lessons in Trust, part of her Cambridge Fellows Series of Edwardian romantic mysteries. Welcome, Charlie!

I remember hearing somewhere that Andrew Lloyd Webber (that’s Lord Webber to you and me) never listens to other people’s music, as he doesn’t want to risk accidentally being influenced by it. Whether that’s true or not, it struck me as being very different from what many authors do. Countless of us are also voracious readers – I devour books across a whole range of genres, for both pleasure and research and I know I’m not alone. Yes, there’s always a risk we’ll inadvertently be over influenced by somebody else’s story and we have to guard against that, but the rewards we gain in return are immense, and not just in terms of the pleasure of the stories we encounter.

Those of us who write historicals, particularly if we write in a range of eras including contemporary, benefit from reading works written at those times, if we can find them. It shows us the cadence of language, the words which were and weren’t used, and gives a feeling for the customs of the era. I’ve always been a fan of a number of authors who worked either side of 1900, so it feels like second nature to “slip back into that time” when I’m writing my Cambridge Fellows series.

But there’s more than that. If you’re changing genres as an author – and many of us do just that – reading books of the type you want to write is vital. There are expectations that readers will hold about books; for example, a mystery must play fair with them, giving them enough clues to solve the problem alongside (or before!) the detective but not making the culprit obvious. In the same way category romance must have some sort of happy ending or risk the reader hurling the book at the wall! We can also learn from the craft of others – Mary Renault for economy of language, Patrick O’Brian for characterisation, Agatha Christie for page turning plotting. To read the works of others helps to hone our own skill.

So whether you’re an aspiring author, an established one, or somebody who just enjoys a good read, indulge yourself. There’s nothing like a good book.

Lessons in Trust

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Blurb: When Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith witness the suspicious death of a young man at the White City exhibition in London, they’re keen to investigate—especially after the cause of death proves to be murder. But police Inspector Redknapp refuses to let them help, even after they stumble onto clues to the dead man’s identity.

Orlando’s own identity becomes the subject for speculation when, while mourning the death of his beloved grandmother, he learns that she kept secrets about her past. Desperate to discover the truth about his family, Orlando departs suddenly on a solo quest to track down his roots, leaving Jonty distraught.

While Jonty frantically tries to locate his lover, Orlando wonders if he’ll be able to find his real family before he goes mad. After uncovering more leads to the White City case, they must decide whether to risk further involvement. Because if either of them dares try to solve the murder, Inspector Redknapp could expose their illicit—and illegal—love affair.


White City, London, 1908

“If you think I’m going up on that thing…” Orlando Coppersmith looked at the great metal creation. It seemed to reach up miles into the sky, higher than the Eiffel Tower or anything he’d ever seen. Even though the measurements, the beautifully accurate and logical measurements, meant it couldn’t be as high as he perceived it was, his eyes wouldn’t believe his brain.

“Why not?” Jonty Stewart’s eyes were ablaze with awe and wonder. “Everyone goes on the Flip Flap.”

“I’m not everyone.” Orlando knew all about his lover’s delight in bell towers, follies, any high places which gave panoramic views. “Anyway, you’ll be sick.” It was a feeble, inaccurate shot, inevitably missing its target.

“I’m never sick. Sorry.” A wide grin crossed Jonty’s handsome face, attracting the attention of two passing maidens. He raised his hat to them and carried on blithely, “I correct myself. I was once sick when some idiot took me on a helter-skelter two hours after a sporting dinner at St. Bride’s, but that was when I was a mere stripling.” No fellow of such an august Cambridge college was going to admit that he’d also been horribly ill just three years previously, after sledging with his nephew down a snow-covered hill. That was before he’d met Orlando and therefore both pre-historic and confidential.

I’ll be sick.”

“Ah. Good point. I’ll never forget the ferry crossing to Jersey.” Jonty looked crestfallen, so disappointed at thwarted ambition that it knocked any argument out of Orlando’s mind.

“Oh, blow it. Let’s go on the thing then.” It was worth suffering just to see the delight on his friend’s face. “And if I’m sick I’ll do it in your hat.”

The Flip Flap. Everyone was talking about it, even the people who hadn’t yet been to the Franco-British exhibition at the great White City which was the talk of the country. There were songs about it in the music halls and Ella Retford wasn’t the only one singing “Take me on the Flip Flap”. Jonty and Orlando had heard a group of youths warbling it just the day before as they’d been wandering down Regent Street. Even Jonty’s father had been on the contraption, becoming so loquacious about his experience that Mrs. Stewart had been forced to have words. “I told your father, Jonathan,” she’d addressed her youngest son so loudly over the telephone that Orlando had been able to hear from the other side of the hall, “that if he doesn’t shut up, I’ll be filing for divorce and naming the Flip Flap as co-respondent.” Much to her dismay that conversation had made Jonty decide he and his lover had to visit the White City as soon as possible to see for themselves.

Orlando had been reluctant despite Mr. Stewart’s glowing reports. He’d seen Paris and been stunned by both the simpering Mona Lisa and the oddly masculine Venus de Milo. He’d strolled through Monte Carlo, as urbane a boulevardier as if he’d been born to the role, or at least a good imitation of one. Why should he want to see imitations of glory when he’d encountered the real thing? The unanswerable argument was that Jonty wanted to see these things and what Jonty wanted, he got. The dunderheads had gone home from the university, back to families who would be astounded by their brains even if Cambridge wasn’t, and the long vac stretched ahead, full of promise. And a visit to the White City could incorporate a visit to the Stewarts’ London home, which would brighten anyone’s summer.

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Published on July 30, 2016 07:01 • 494 views • Tags: cambridge-fellows, charlie-cochrane, guest-blog, lessons-in-trust, romantic-mystery, samhain
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message 1: by Charlie (new)

Charlie Cochrane Thanks for hosting me!

message 2: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Richards Charlie wrote: "Thanks for hosting me!"
Anytime, Charlie. Thanks for sharing an excerpt. Now I not only want to know who killed the young man but also whether or not Orlando will, in fact, be sick, LOL.

message 3: by Charlie (new)

Charlie Cochrane Laurel wrote: "Charlie wrote: "Thanks for hosting me!"
Anytime, Charlie. Thanks for sharing an excerpt. Now I not only want to know who killed the young man but also whether or not Orlando will, in fact, be sick,..."

I think he avoided it. Just.

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