January 8, 2014

Character Interview: Sam Hines from Awfully Glad @charliecochrane #RLFblog #lgbt

Awfully Glad 
This character interview is with Sam Hines from the gay romance historical book Awfully Glad by Charlie Cochrane.
Genre Historical m/m romance
Book heat level (based on movie ratings): PG13
Publisher Bold Strokes Books
WWI hero Sam Hines is used to wearing a face that isn't his own. When he's not in the trenches he's the most popular female impersonator on the front, but a mysterious note from an anonymous admirer leaves him worried. Everyone realises—eventually—that Sam's not a woman, but has somebody also worked out that he also prefers his lovers to be male?
When Sam meets—and falls for—fellow officer Johnny Browne after the war, he wonders whether he could be the man who wrote the note. If so, is he the answer to Sam's dreams or just another predatory blackmailer, ready to profit from a love which dare not speak its name?

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Interview with Samuel Hines

What is it that you want, but cannot have? Authors call this the conflict of the story.
I want what any gay man of my era would want – to be able to live my life without continually looking over my shoulder wondering if I'll be caught and disgraced. The lowliest chimney sweep can walk down the road with his girl on his arm. Is it too much to be allowed to walk down the road with my man on mine?
What's your internal limitation? Meaning, what is it about you that makes it so you cannot do what it is you need to do during this story?
I could say it's the damn unfairness of the law, making men such as myself prey to blackmailers, but that's a coward's defence. If I'm being honest in my answer, I can't help usually assuming the worst, and putting a pessimistic interpretation on things.
Tell us about your significant other, that person who makes living worthwhile.
That would have to be Jonny Browne, who I first met when I was dressed up to the nines as a soubrette. I'd better explain. I was in a WWI concert party, helping to keep up the lads' morale. Miss Madeleine was my stage name and I was trussed up in more feathers, silk and lace than a high class tart. Jonny had the sort of smile to get my bloomers in a tangle.
What would that person say about you?
That I'm an infuriating idiot who wouldn't know a good thing if it smacked him one in the gob. He'd also (I hope) say I'm handsome, witty and have a stunning pair of legs. And that my skills in bed were worth the wait.
What special skills do you rely on?
In bed or out? As I'm a gentleman I'll refrain from commenting on the former! I discovered a lot about myself during the war, not least that I could sing and dance well enough to deceive plenty of people into thinking (at least for a while) that they were watching a girl. I also found unexpected depths of courage. They tell me I fought like a lion, but all I can remember was being bloody scared and having to do my duty despite it.
Are you happy with the way your story ended? Why or why not?
Of course I am. Happy ever after might be a pipe dream for a man like me in the era I live in, but Happy for now is more than many of us could have expected during the war.

About You: Questions for the writer.

You have the length of a tweet (140 characters) to describe yourself as a writer. Let's see what you can do.
If you want nice young men, quirky humour, unusual settings and ideas, I'm your girl! I can't deny having written about gay weresloths...
Why did you choose to write about this character?
I read a fascinating book about the songs of WWI, and was amazed to discover how popular concert parties had been back then, out in France. When I found out that some of them contained extremely convincing female impersonators (at least one of whom got kidnapped by another regiment who wanted 'her' for their own) I had to write a story set against that background.
Was there anything you discovered about this character that was a surprise to you?
My characters continually surprise me. To the extent that I often end up re-writing whole sections of stories to make them accord with what I've found out. That may sound like hard work, but I think it gives the storyline authenticity, rather than shoe-horning a character into a pre-arranged plot. Not that I ever have a pre-arranged plot.
As for Samuel, I knew he was a courageous fighter, so the extent of his doubts and fears in peacetime surprised me.
When you wrote about this character, what made you the most happy? What made you the most sad?
The era itself makes me very sad. Such a waste of life in that conflict. So many young men cut down in their prime, including heroes of mine like Wilfred Owen and Ronnie Poulton-Palmer. But I have to keep coming back to it and exploring the notion of men at war. Awfully Glad is my fourth story set in or around WWI.
Are any sequels planned for this book?
I don't think so. I have a long running series – the Cambridge Fellows mysteries – and if I have a contemporary cosy mystery with gay romantic elements which has been submitted to a publisher and that might become a series. Possibly. One day. If I can leave WWI alone!

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  1. Thanks for hosting me - and Sam! He enjoyed himself very much.

    1. He's welcome any time, like you!

    2. I picked up a second hand book on Monday, the memoirs of a WWII fighter pilot. When I got it home I realised he was called Samuel Hynes. Coincidence I love thee.

  2. I enjoyed Awfully Glad very much. I was surprised that someone who was so heavily involved in fighting that he won a medal could also have been the star of a concert party, but I knew that your research skills meant that it would have been accurate! I also find WW1 such a very sad time, so I'm glad you can create some happy stories about it.

    1. Thank you. There were happy times for people - remarkable spirit and courage. Sam is an amalgam of several characters from Max Arthur's When This Bloody War is Over, with a layer of inspiration from a story I have yet to pin down, of a DDay soldier who stuck on some lipstick before hitting the beaches and fought like a tiger.


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