I’m thrilled skinny to be dropping in here as part of the Second Helpings blog tour. A million thanks to Erotica for All for having me as a guest.
One of the pre-release reviews of Second Helpings (look at me being all British and swiftly passing over the fact that the review was a very good one) said, “There is a depth and honesty to this story that sucks you in, making you want more.” That’s the sort of remark that makes an author grin from ear to ear, but it also got me thinking. Have all my stories got depth and honesty? I’d liked to think so but, being brutally honest, there’s probably a wide range within my writing and I’ve no doubt I fall short of highest expectations at times. Sometimes you really connect with a couple as you write about them (my long running detectives Jonty and Orlando would be a prime example) and sometimes you’re just acting as “biographer”.
So what made this story, about Stuart and Paul and their second chances at love, have that extra ‘something’? In a word (actually two words), editorial input. I quite like being edited, no matter how painful it might feel at the time, when you’re seeing your precious “baby” being poked, prodded and ripped apart before being put back together again. I try to swallow my pride, work out which fights I should pick along the way, then endeavour to remember that this is all about the sow’s ear into silk purse process. Editors want the very best for a story and if they can eliminate inconsistencies in plot and characterisation, and wheedle their authors into getting deeper, farther, higher, and anything else which will bring the finished item to a piece of polished perfection, then more power to their elbows!
One of the things which new and aspiring authors have to get used to is the editing process and the stunning revelation that what you have clear in your head may not be translating to the page. If an editor says, “Why is he saying/doing that, as it’s not following on from what’s gone before/isn’t consistent with his character?” the answer can’t be, “Because I know that’s what he’d do/say!” If the editor doesn’t get it then the reader won’t. Unless you address the issue, making your heroes act like they’re flesh and blood, then your readers may become disenchanted with your storyline, getting the impression that your guys are just puppets, being shoehorned into following a plot outline, like characters in a soap opera who suddenly do something just to cause a sensation (and pick up the flagging audience ratings).
So, thanks to my editors for gilding the lily and thanks to Paul and Stuart for being so easy to write about. What? Paul and Stuart aren’t real? That’s not how they feel to me…
Stuart Collins’s life might as well have ended a year ago when his partner died in a car crash. Even Stuart’s widowed father has found new love with an old friend, Isabel Franklin, so why can’t Stuart be bothered to try?
Then he gets a phone call from Isabel’s son, Paul, who wants to check out whether or not Mr. Collins is good enough for his mother. During dinner together, though, they end up checking out each other. Trouble is, Paul’s got a boyfriend—or maybe he doesn’t, since the boyfriend’s supposedly giving Paul the push by ignoring him. Or maybe Paul just wants to have his cake and eat it too.
Honesty with each other is the only way to move forward. But maybe honesty with themselves is what they really need.
As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries.
Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series, set in Edwardian England, 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, and International Thriller Writers Inc., with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes Books, MLR, and Riptide.
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