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Guest author Jay Lewis Taylor

January 31st, 2018 (11:26 am)

It's always a pleasure to welcome the historical romance reader's best boy to my blog to answer questions about his new release, Appointed Limits.

What inspired this book?

What inspired the book initially was finding a mention of the Messina earthquake (28 December 1908) about two weeks before the actual anniversary in 2016. I wrote the first story in what became Appointed Limits in a terrific hurry, but it came through so fast that it didn't feel like an effort. I thought Shore Leave was going to be a one-off when it was posted in Manifold Press's blog, but the conversation that resulted made me wonder what John and Pasco would doing in six years time, during the Great War. And then another story came, and then another, and I couldn't leave them alone ...

Is location an important element to you as author?

Very much so. I need to be able to see a place in my mind's eye even if I've never been there, even if I've invented it. I haven't been to Malta (though I've talked to people who have, and have seen pictures). I invented John's home in Cornwall, though I could point to the space on the map where it is. But when I was writing John's journey towards his home in Walk Ashore I suddenly saw it at the foot of a hill, with the church tower and the houses nearby.

Also, location influences my characters. If they don't feel at home in the city they will behave one way; if they are only comfortable at home in certain circumstances, why is that? I also I find that I need to know what they are physically negotiating as they move around, what they can see and hear and smell. Location has a bearing on all of that.

What about as a reader?

I think the same applies. It's a very poor book where the characters are talking in a vacuum, without responding – for example – to the beautiful landscape or the hideous city in which they're standing. Location has its own work to do in a book, whether it's a place we recognise (London, New York) or not. Earthsea, for example, works for me because it was so thoroughly created by Ursula K LeGuin that every place in it, however strange, is the world that her characters are navigating and responding to; and as a reader I see it through their eyes.

If you could have served on any historical ship/under any captain, which and who would it be?

Hmmm ... I'm sure Nelson would have been inspiring, but I'd have wanted danger money. It would have been interesting to serve on the Beagle if I could have talked to Darwin, but I think Robert FitzRoy would have been hard work as captain, poor man. With Captain Cook to Tahiti? Round Australia with Matthew Flinders? The Antarctic with Shackleton? Too many to choose from. I need other writers to take me to the time and place...


I grew up in southern England, but now live in Somerset, within an hour’s drive of the villages where two of my great-great-great-grandparents were born. I have worked in an eclectic range of libraries over the years but am in fact a thwarted medievalist with a strong arts background.

I have been writing fiction for over thirty years, exploring the lives of people who are on the margins in one way or another, and how the power of love and language can break down the walls that we build round ourselves.


An officer never, ever goes adrift in the Gut, the most infamous street in Malta. However John Amery, Surgeon RN, loses his way, his innocence and his virginity there one December night of 1908 when he meets Pasco Teague.

From Malta to Devonport to Gallipoli, from the Mediterranean to the Channel to the Dardanelles, John and Pasco meet and part, in peace and war and peace again. Duty and Pasco are the fixed points in John’s life, but there comes a time when he has no power over either, and must find his way to another kind of peace.


charliecochrane [userpic]

Lessons in Discovery on offer today

January 30th, 2018 (12:47 pm)

All over Amazon at a very nice price!

Lessons in Discovery

charliecochrane [userpic]

Ooh, looky look!

January 28th, 2018 (08:31 pm)

Lessons in Trust available now!


charliecochrane [userpic]

Thoughts about characters and another review

January 25th, 2018 (03:30 pm)

I've been devouring books at a rate of knots these past few weeks, and one of the thoughts I've thunk is that my favourite authors often have one character that shines above all the others they've created, no matter how great the others are. Alex Beecroft's Chris Gatrell (Bombers Moon), Jamie Merrow's Tom Paretski (Plumbers Mate series), Elin Gregory's Miles Siward (Eleventh Hour), Ngaio Marsh's Fox (Alleyn books)...I could go on for ages and probably will in another post.

Meanwhile another review for Two Feet Under. "These books are witty, the banter between the MCs entertaining, and the mystery is always just that, a mystery to be solved. I highly recommend them." Read more at The Novel Approach.

charliecochrane [userpic]

4.25 stars for Two Feet Under

January 24th, 2018 (07:39 pm)

I liked how Robin navigated the murky waters of his antagonistic new workplace. The relationship between Robin and Adam shows significant growth as a couple, which was enjoyable. They are truly committed to one another, with a future that seems realistic. I’d definitely read on if another book is added to the series.

Read more at Joyfully Jay.

charliecochrane [userpic]

'A' grade review: Count the Shells

January 21st, 2018 (02:09 pm)

I loved this book. All the characters were a delight, and it was wonderful to see Michael slowly re-embrace familiar people, places, and hobbies from his youth, while also coming to terms with both the physical losses of his first love – by estrangement and then through death – and with the revelation that his love was never the model of perfection Michael has mourned all these years.

Read more at The Good, the Bad and the Unread.

charliecochrane [userpic]

Charlie's newsletter

January 19th, 2018 (08:26 pm)

Evening all. Glad to say that Cochrane Central is still standing despite gales and rain and whatever the British weather has thrown at us. We’re not in a snow zone, though, thank goodness. By the way, if anyone has a method of keeping blooming grey squirrels from digging up the garden, can they let me know?


There was a smashing review for Count the Shells over at V’s Reads. “I really loved the setting and characters in this one.”

Two Feet Under” is now out from all the usual outlets, as is Lessons in Seduction, the latest of the Endeavour re-releases.

I’m delighted to share the cover art for the next in the series, Lessons in Trust, which will be out very soon.

And to continue with matters Cambridge Fellows, Lessons in Chasing the Wild Goose is available for pre-order .


Orlando settled himself into his chair before replying. “There isn’t much to tell. The consultation request came from Dr. Beattie. What he wishes to discuss I do not know, but he says that it’s both urgent and important.”
“Dr. Beattie? Dr. Beattie. Hm.” Jonty, settled in a chair which would usually have a dunderhead’s bottom on it, theatrically put his fingers to his brow. “Can you remind me who he is?”
“You know exactly who I mean.” Orlando frowned; he knew what game was going on. “There’s only one Beattie of our acquaintance, I believe.”
“History chap? Ascension College?” Jonty’s air of innocence could not have fooled a blind man in a dense fog. It wouldn’t fool one of his own students when they were discussing Hamlet. “I vaguely remember him.”
Orlando ignored the protestation of poor memory. He knew his partner too well—the man was as sharp as a pin. “I said you knew him. And if he wants to consult us, then it would be unsporting not to oblige a university colleague.”
“I wonder what sort of a case it is. Maybe he’s lost his wool. The stuff he pulls over his students’ eyes.” Jonty grinned. “You know what these historian chaps are like. All theories. No proof.”
“Beattie’s not like that. He’s—” Orlando stopped, aware of the trap a moment too late to avoid falling in it.
“He’s what? Handsome, I seem to remember, from the rare occasions I’ve been allowed to meet him. Sympathetic. Intelligent—for an historian—and with a certain air to him.” Jonty waved his hand, as though searching for the right words. “A man of culture and good taste.”
Orlando cut in, before the play acting went too far. “He’s supposed to be rigorous in his approach to his subject. Or so one of the maths men from Ascension tells me.”
“I’ve heard the same, actually.” Jonty’s forced look of innocence got discarded. “He’s highly regarded in the college and the university. I’d be pleased to help him. Not the slightest clue to what it’s about?”
“Not the faintest.”
That wasn’t an unusual situation, given people’s propensity for calling them in to solve mysteries, usually without giving any hint as to what these mysteries involved.
“Shall I nip down to the lodge to use the telephone and put the cold collation on permanent hold? Or at least until tea-time?” Jonty suggested. “Then I could go and sweet talk somebody in the college kitchen into organising some lunch for us.”
“Excellent idea. That would eliminate the risk of my stomach rumbling should the interview be prolonged.”
“And what about asking the porters to redirect him to my room here?” Jonty said, airily. “Then he won’t have to contend with all that redecorating the stairs malarkey.”
Orlando nodded. “Your room’s a sufficiently secluded venue, so any secrets can be aired in confidence of not being overheard.”
Jonty’s room would feel a more neutral venue than this one, as well.
Jonty fished in his pocket. “Here’s my key. Why don’t you go and make sure the place is tidy enough for a consultation? I don’t think I left a slipper with tobacco on the mantelpiece, but who knows?”
“So long as you haven’t been firing bullets into the wall to engrave Ariadne Sheridan’s initials there, all will be well.”
“Daft beggar.” Jonty set off about his errands, which gave Orlando an opportunity to be alone with his thoughts as he locked his own study and made his way to his lover’s. This separation of duties would also mean a minimum of further conversation concerning Dr. Beattie. As far as Jonty was concerned, the handsome historian from Ascension was simply someone Orlando had got to know in the course of a case, and long might that be the extent of his understanding.
How and when had Jonty worked out that the mere mention of Beattie could get him all unsettled? The three men had only been in the same room once or twice and not a word had passed between any of them that had been out of place. But then there wasn’t anything out of place nor had there ever been; for a brief time, Orlando had found the historian attractive, a fact he’d also found extremely unsettling. And, given that at the time he’d first met Beattie, he’d believed Jonty to be dead, as Jonty had believed Orlando to be dead, it hadn’t been either unreasonable or disloyal to have felt the attraction.
Such Shakespearean type plotting was too much for a mere Professor of Applied Mathematics to cope with, however.

And finally, snapped from my settee – amazing winter sunshine!


charliecochrane [userpic]

Another review for Two Feet Under

January 14th, 2018 (03:21 pm)

I really liked that this book changed things up a bit with the characters–and in a way that didn’t require the couple to have a completely stupid fight so the book could be all about Robin and Adam getting back together (by far my biggest pet peeve about series centered around a single couple). Read more at Love Bytes Reviews.

charliecochrane [userpic]

A new review and a new cover!

January 13th, 2018 (02:59 pm)

"Here’s a cozy to spend the night with. Or day with. Or both. I read it right through because I had to know whodunnit. I was completely satisfied with the ending. Now I can’t wait for the next mystery to roll out and my next visit with Adam, Robin, and Campbell." Read more at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.

And I have the cover art for Lessons in Trust. Another corker.


charliecochrane [userpic]

Being a cannibal

January 12th, 2018 (12:38 pm)

But only with my stories, of course. Am at Book Reviews and More by Kathy, discussing how we authors are loathe to throw good stuff away.