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]


Rushed Dental Work, a Delay In Today’s Review and the Franco-British Exhibition of 1908


So, yeah, here I am about to head off for some rushed dentistry, a root canal that had to be done asap and I am not happy or feeling great at this moment.  But I won’t rush the review of Lessons in Trust by Charlie Cochrane, so there will be a slight delay in posting.   I will say that I loved this book and it sent me into paroxysms of  delight when researching the 1908 Franco British Exhibition which Orlando and Jonty attend.

See, this is one of my anticipated joys of Charlie Cochrane’s writing, she always includes  some wonderful tidbit of information or history I didn’t know about, educating me just enough to make me want to know more.  I mean really, how could you resist a 1908 ride with the name The Flip-Flap?

Here is a postcard view of the White City, the location (on 120 acres) of the Franco-British Exhibition in west London.  It was called The White City because all the exhibition buildings were  painted white. There were “villages” of various nationalities people could visit, like an Irish Village, a Senegalese Village,  Think of it like the Las Vegas strip of its day with the Luxor Pyramid, Eiffel Tower , well, you get the drift.    Here is a central view:


Then there is the marvel called The Flip-Flap ride.  Orlando, Jonty, and Mr. Stewart could get enough of this ride,  Think of the most popular rides at Busch Gardens or Six Flags, and they would not come close to the popularity and awe that was The Flip Flap .  It’s outline dominated the skyline.  Here is a post card of the ride, wouldn’t you just love for a chance to climb on?

Postcard of the Flip-Flap ride

And finally,  the age of the automobile has arrived and Jonty is full of enthusiasm for this new form of transportation.  Jonty has bought a Lagonda and loves it dearly, an affection Orlando doesn’t share.  So of course I wanted to know more about what the car looked like that drove Jonty to such heights of prose and poetry.  Off to research some more.  And I found out that the  Lagonda cars were invented by an American named Wilbur Gunn.  Wilber had two passions in life, singing and engineering and it was as an opera singer that he came to Britain.  But once there he started crafting things from fast boats to motorcycles.  In 1904 he progressed from 3 wheeled vehicles to motor cars of which  74 original models were made.  Of course, Jonty would have one of them.  The name Lagonda?  That is Shawnee for Bucks County in Ohio where Wilbur Gunn was from.  It is also the name of his father’s company, the Lagonda Corporation which made tube  cleaning machinery.  I was unable to find any photos of the model Jonty would have had but here is a  photo of a 1928 Lagonda.  So sporty and elegant I would dearly love to have one as well:

Lagonda 1928 lag 3 litre

So I hope this will give you a taste of what is to come in my review of  Lessons in Trust. Keep these images in mind when I am relating parts of the story.  It is a marvelous book so I hope you won’t mind the wait.  See you here a little later on, sore jaw not withstanding.