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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