Pack Up Your Troubles
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Charlie Cochrane here today talking about her new collection of stories, Pack Up Your Troubles. Welcome, Charlie!
My interest in World War One – and more specifically, the service men and women whose lives and deaths were intertwined with the conflict – goes back to school days. The war poetry of Wilfred Owen was part of the syllabus for English secondary schools (it still is) and it really got to me. The power in the words was stunning and the sad, almost romantic story of a poet who died within weeks of the war ended was enthralling. I’ll admit that I have almost no interest in the details of the action, which regiment fought where and when; it’s the people and their stories that continue to fascinate me.
That sense of the pity of war (and the ‘poetry in the pity’*) heavily influenced the first of the three stories in this anthology. I suspect This Ground which was Secured at Great Expense is one of the most sombre stories I’ve ever written, although I promise it has a happy ending. You could say that the story arc itself mirrors that of war – a sudden call to action, mistakes made and wrong strategies employed, times of inaction and false dawns, a move made at a venture that brings success. And – this is a really big confession – it’s the only story I’ve ever written that I planned out in advance and then wrote against that plan. (I’ll never do it again. Agony for a pantser like me.)
Hallowed Ground is much less intense in style, if no less serious in subject. It was inspired by the Museum of Army Chaplaincy just outside Amport. I have no idea why I hadn’t come across the place before, because it’s relatively local, to me but as soon as I found out about it I made an appointment to visit (you have to make an appointment because it’s on army land.) I spent a lovely hour there, having a private tour from the curator. Not long afterwards the words for Hallowed Ground just started to flow, as though my sub-conscious had been crafting the tale all the time. The story ends with the promise of a happy ending to come, even if that isn’t outworked in this tale: the two characters reappear as minor players in Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour.
The third story in Pack up Your Troubles is the joker in the pack. I’ve amalgamated my interest in the war poetry of one hundred years ago with my interest in modern war poetry (check out the work of Danny Martin) to create the two leading characters. So how can a WWI soldier and a modern one be thrown together? When they’ve both died in combat and are sent back to earth to be part of terrestrial special opps. It was fun to play with the boundaries between this life and the next, and even more so to explore the tension between obeying orders and being true to one’s heart. True love wins in the end, of course, but the path is a tricky one to tread.
Footnote: my fascination with poetry appears in the three story titles. They’re all taken from WWI poems. The “pity” quote comes from Wilfred Owen himself. “”My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.”
About Pack Up Your Troubles
Pack up Your Troubles features three stories of love – won, lost and regained – against a backdrop of war.
THIS GROUND WHICH WAS SECURED AT GREAT EXPENSE
An officer thinks he finds love in the trenches, but is it really waiting for him on the home front?
A doctor and an army chaplain spend the night in a foxhole and discover there’s hope even in the darkest situations.
MUSIC IN THE MIDST OF DESOLATION
And an old soldier discovers that there are romantic problems to solve even after you’ve cashed in your chips.
About the Author
Because Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her mystery novels include 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.
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