Join Charlie Cochrane as She Talks “Gary Stu” and “Lessons for Sleeping Dogs” (guest post and contest)



Lessons for Sleeping Dogs (Cambridge Fellows #12)
by Charlie Cochrane
Publisher:  Riptide Publishing
Cover Artist: Lou Harper
Buy it here at Riptide

I have long been a fan of author Charlie Cochrane and this amazing series.  Set in historical England, her readers have followed Jonty Stewart  and Orlando Coppersmith from the moment at the dining table at St. Bride’s College where they first met through times filled with confounding puzzles, multiple murderers, an ever deepening relationship that could see them to the gallows if discovered, and hidden darknesses in both men’s backgrounds that comes back to haunt them time and again.  And all brilliantly staged in Cambridge  and various locations throughout England, starting in 1905, through the tumultuous war years to 1921 where this story takes place.

 One of the many elements that keeps me and so many other readers returning is that  Charlie Cochrane’s ability to place us directly onto the cobblestone walkways and dirt paths that Jonty and Orlando are trodding.  We feel as though we are there with them, and historical Cambridge is as real to us as it would be to our Cambridge Dons.  That’s quite a gift.  Now I find maybe because its author feels herself walking there too.  Hmmm.  Let’s hear it from  Charlie herself.

Anyone for self-insertion in their own books?

By Charlie Cochrane

Authors writing themselves into their works is nothing new. Many people reading St. Mark’s gospel think the young man who slipped out of his linen clothes to elude his captors and ran away naked from the garden of Gethsemane was the Apostle Mark himself. And, in “As You Like It”, there’s a slightly dim-witted countryman called William who seems to have no real purpose in the play except to be a figure of fun – is this the Bard making game of himself?

I’m not necessarily talking Mary Sues here, although some self-inserted characters come perilously close. I find the wikipedia description of these women – or  their male equivalent, the Gary Stu – useful, that they’re “primarily functioning as wish-fulfillment fantasies for their authors”. Many of the author appearances make the feet of clay all too apparent and so wouldn’t fit into this category.

Autobiographically inspired novels clearly portray the writer and his/her friends, foibles and all, to some extent or other. Sal Paradise in “On the Road” is Jack Kerouac, Jeannette in “Oranges are not the Only Fruit” is Jeannette Winterson and Philip Carey in “Of Human Bondage” may be Somerset Maugham, more or less.

Sometimes, though, the reader sees what he or she wants. E M Forster insisted that Maurice Hall wasn’t him, although the similarities in appearance, Cambridge background and sexual awakening by a man from the lower classes has made fans of “Maurice” wonder whether that’s true. Harriet Vane is evidently based on Dorothy L Sayers – similar educational background, similar unhappy love affair – although she possesses too many faults to be a Mary Sue. Except in one thing; Sayers was infatuated with Eric Whelpton (one of the models for Peter Wimsey), but to no avail. Could Harriet’s happy ending with Peter have been a bit of wish-fulfillment?

Certainly the wish-fulfillment element looms large in the case of some authors of fanfic. In Age of Sail stories, there’ll be a young woman who’s beautiful, talented, clever, witty; a right pain in the bum, to put it bluntly. She’s the best shot on the ship and can probably outdo the officers at swordplay. She might even be in disguise as a man, some very capable second lieutenant, and nobody’s twigged yet.

Talking of Age of Sail, Dr. Maturin in the Jack Aubrey series fascinates me, as does his creator, Patrick O’Brian. It would be easy to overegg the pudding discussing similarities between the two – secrecy, dissimulation about background, a daughter with special needs – but the fact remains that Maturin at times feels like a Gary Stu, despite his faults. Brilliant shot, wonderful espionage agent, a bit of a super hero (he takes a bullet out of his own abdomen and survives torture, storms, abandonment on a scorching hot island, a night on a freezing cold mountain, etc). I can’t help wondering if O’Brian was using Maturin in part to be what he’d wished to be, (or pretended he’d been) including a spy, an Irishman and a wonderful father to his disabled child.

Self inserted characters exist today. There’s a lady in my Cambridge Fellows books, including the latest, Lessons for Sleeping Dogs, who bears more than a passing resemblance to me in terms of her appearance, interests and maternal outlook. Of course, with that in mind, the tendency is when I’m reading something to try to spot a character who might just be the author in disguise. I daren’t say anything because of the risk of a suit for libel, but might that beautiful lady in the latest book by xxxx really be her indulging in wish fulfilment and can that ridiculously sexy man, the one all the blokes fawn over truly be yyyyy? And will you share your favourite ‘self-inserted’ characters in the comments?


Cambridge, 1921

When amateur sleuth Jonty Stewart comes home with a new case to investigate, his partner Orlando Coppersmith always feels his day has been made. Although, can there be anything to solve in the apparent mercy killing of a disabled man by a doctor who then kills himself, especially when everything takes place in a locked room?

But things are never straightforward where the Cambridge fellows are concerned, so when they discover that more than one person has a motive to kill the dead men—motives linked to another double death—their wits get stretched to the breaking point.

And when the case disinters long buried memories for Jonty, memories about a promise he made and hasn’t kept, their emotions get pulled apart as well. This time, Jonty and Orlando will have to separate fact from fiction—and truth from emotion—to get to the bottom of things.

About The Author

As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes, with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes, MLR and Cheyenne.

Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series of Edwardian romantic mysteries was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, International Thriller Writers Inc and is on the organising team for UK Meet for readers/writers of GLBT fiction. She regularly appears with The Deadly Dames.

Connect with Charlie:



Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for your choice of an a ebook from Charlie Cochrane’s backlist (excluding Lessons for Sleeping Dogs.) Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 17, 2015. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Don’t forget to add your contact information so we can reach you if you win!  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  

Cambridge Fellows Mysteries

CambridgeFellows_Series_0 (1)

If the men of St. Bride’s College knew what Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith got up to behind closed doors, the scandal would rock early-20th-century Cambridge to its core. But the truth is, when they’re not busy teaching literature and mathematics, the most daring thing about them isn’t their love for each other—it’s their hobby of amateur sleuthing.

[The Last books starting with #9 are available from Riptide Publishing]


15 thoughts on “Join Charlie Cochrane as She Talks “Gary Stu” and “Lessons for Sleeping Dogs” (guest post and contest)

  1. Great post, Charlie. I honestly cannot think about any self-inserted character right now, although it is very difficult not to consider the hero as a sort of alter-ego of the writer in most cases…
    I love Jonty and Orlando. Thank you very much for the giveaway


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