OMG! I’ve always wanted to interview Charlie Cochet. And I did!
A.O. Chika: Congrats on the Success of THIRDS series, I read a fanfic of it on A03 and decided to get the first two books in the series. Congrats again, on the release of your audiobooks and translations… You’re one of the first authors I know that has a Korean light novel.
As an aspiring author, I look up to you and hope to one day be as successful as you are.
The interview will cover two parts: the business part which focuses on you as an author and a businesswoman, and the LGBT part which focuses on your thoughts concerning issues the LGBT community is facing.
Q: You write exclusively gay romance, what made you choose that category instead of mainstream romance?
I have been reading and writing romance since I can remember, but it was only until a few years ago that I decided I wanted to do more, and began writing with the intention of getting published. I started out writing mainstream romance and still hope to one day publish that book that started it all, but as I was writing that book, I had an LGBT character that slowly started taking over the book, and I had to take a step back and figure out why. I started to do some research, and that’s when I realized there was a whole genre of gay romance I hadn’t even known existed. The more I read, the more I fell in love with the stories. I connected with them on so many levels, and that’s when I started to write my first gay romance The Auspicious Troubles of Chance.
Q: THIRDS is a large series, the Worldbuilding and characters are massive and diverse. How did you create such an Immersive series? What gave you the idea and motivated you to keep at it?
When I was first published, I wrote mainly historical romance in the twenties and thirties, my favorite eras, but then I wrote a shifter story for the M/M romance Group’s Don’t Read in the Closet event. I had so much fun with that story that not only did it become a series, but I decided I wanted to write another shifter series. But I wanted it to be different from what was out there. I’m a big movie nerd, and I love action and suspense. I decided to write the kind of series I wanted to read, a kind of big nerdy action-packed movie/TV series with lots of characters who readers could fall in love with and have their favorites. I wanted it to be fun, a huge world that readers could get lost in for a while.
At the time there’s been a lot of wolf shifters, but not a whole lot of big cat shifters. I then thought about the world these shifters would live in and asked myself “What would happen if shifters were a part of society? How would the world change?” Those questions had a snowball effect, and it lead to the creation of the THIRDS world. I knew I wanted the series to have a foundation of the real world with one twist: shifters and humans coexisting.
What kept me motivated was the characters and the world. I was having so much fun. Dex was unlike any character I had written, and I just had to see what he’d do next.
Q: This is a cliché question, but I have to ask, Who is your favorite author? What’s your favorite book(s)? Mine is Nora Sakavic’s All for the Game Trilogy
That’s a very difficult question. I have lots of favorite authors and books across many genres, and sub genres. I love talking books, and am always happy to share my favorites. There are many.
Q: What book or series was the toughest to write?
Each book in the THIRDS series has been tough to write. With a series this long, there’s always the danger and fear that it will fizzle, and no one wants that for their series. I certainly didn’t want that for my boys. I wanted each book to be better than the one before it. I wanted to end the series with a bang. It’s especially hard when it’s a much anticipated pairing because there’s a lot of pressure, and you know you won’t be able to please anyone, so all you can do is write the best book you can. Some of the more emotional books to write were Smoke & Mirrors, Darkest Hour Before Dawn, and the final book in the series, Tried & True.
Q: How do you handle negative reviews?
I’d be lying if I said negative reviews aren’t tough, because so much of yourself goes into your books, but I’ve learned to separate the personal opinions from the constructive criticism. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, and you’ll never be able to please everyone. Sometimes you have people who don’t care about hurting others, but I’ve learned to look past all that. I love hearing when readers enjoy a book, but I also pay attention to the constructive criticism, because if the same point keeps coming up in several reviews, then you know something is wrong, and then you can learn from that and improve on it. Writing is a craft you need to keep working at, and as an author I want to continue to grow and improve.
Q: You’d probably answer that all of your books are your favorite, but which of your books would you say is your favorite and why?
I’ll probably go with Hell & High Water because that’s the book that started it all. It was the beginning of an incredible journey for me, and thanks to that book I’ve met so many amazing folks, many of who are now some of my closest friends.
Q: You’ve written a lot of books, I’m SOOOO envious. How did you get into writing and publishing your books? What motivates you to continue writing?
I’ve been writing since I was very young. When I was a kid I used to make up my own stories and draw pictures to go with them. I wrote my first novel in high school, and continued wanting to tell stories. I’ve been reading romance since I was very young. I always loved writing, I just never imagined it was something I could do for a living. What motivates me is the characters and the stories. I start to develop these characters and lives, and it’s so exciting! I love being able to create these worlds.
Q: So, this is probably a weird question, but where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully, I will have grown even more as an author. I would love to make the New York Times Best Sellers List with one of my gay romances. That would be amazing. Really though, I just see myself writing, hopefully growing my audience, and continuing to tell new and exciting stories.
Q: What’s a day in the life of a successful author like? Lemme guess, weekly books and coffee parties 🙂
That all depends on what you believe success is. I consider myself successful because I achieved what I wanted to with the THIRDS series, and so much more. I had a vision, and I worked really hard to make that happen. There was a lot of hoping and crossed fingers too. As for my day, I sit at my desk from 8am to 6pm, sometimes I stay a little later, and sometimes I work weekends. It all depends on what I’m working and any deadlines I might have. I write, keep in touch with fellow authors and friends. I work on marketing and promotion, my website, upcoming releases, and the many, many things authors are required to do to keep up in the publishing industry.
Q: What made you decide to publish with Dreamspinner Press
I looked at all the different publishers at the time and what they published. Dreamspinner had some of my favorite authors and books, and I was so inspired by them. I knew right away I wanted to be a part of that.
Q: What is your book production process like?
The whole process is pretty lengthy, and a lot of hard work. I start out with an idea then work on the characters and the world before I start outlining everything. I write my blurb, then start writing my first draft. I write a very clean first draft most of the time since I self-edit as I go, then go back and re-edit. I submit it to Dreamspinner, and if it gets contracted, it goes into the production queue which is followed by production documents, then several rounds of edits, proofreading, a galley check, before it goes up for pre-order then release roughly a month later. Marketing starts from the moment I have my idea, and I keep working on it through release and after.
Q: Many authors have a problem with marketing their book, as both the author and publisher of your books, do you have this challenge also? What book marketing advice do you have for authors and publishers?
Marketing is always a challenge, especially in our industry that moves so quickly. You have to be willing to adapt, to learn and try new things or risk getting left behind. From the inception of the THIRDS I was willing to take risks and try new things. Sometimes the only way of knowing how something will work is by trying. I talk with fellow authors and we share what we’ve done, what’s worked and what hasn’t. I do a lot of research, pay attention to marketing trends, and what bestselling authors outside our genre are doing. If you want to grow your audience, you need to think big and think outside the box.
Q: Have you ever thought of mentoring upcoming authors?
I have new authors who message me and email me asking me questions, and I’m always happy to answer, and help as much as I can. If I come across a new author who’s work I enjoy and I see an opportunity they may be missing out on, I contact them and let them know. When I started, I had to research everything. The learning curve was so steep. So if I can help a new author, I certainly will, but there’s also no magic answer. There’s no “do this and you’ll sell thousands of copies of your book”. Every author is different, what works for one author may not work for another. But talking is a great way to figuring out what you need.
Enough business talk, let’s talk about the LGBT community.
Q: Earlier this year (I think) there was a huge conversation among Gay romance authors on Facebook, about Bi-erasure, Do you think Bi-erasure exists and what do you think contributes to the beliefs and perception people have about bisexuality?
I do think Bi-erasure exists, but I don’t think it’s always been a result of malicious intent on an author’s part. I think for a time we’ve had a lot of misinformation, and sometimes lack of education on the matter. However, we have a great responsibility as authors in this genre. Yes, we still have a long way to go for LGBT acceptance, but society has also come a long way. I think social media has created a great platform for people to connect, and become informed. Where people were struggling trying to identify themselves, wondering if they were the only ones who felt the way they did, they now have a network of people they can connect to who understand how they feel, who’ve experienced what they feel. As authors, we’re in a position to inform and educate, and it’s a pretty hefty responsibility, but if you’re writing in the gay genre, it’s one you have to take seriously. Conversations need to happen, but people also have to be willing to listen.
Q: The LGBT community is constantly being targeted, be it crimes against transgendered people, shootings, LGBT centers being attacked, hate crimes towards gays and lesbians, misgendering or bisexuality being seen as “confusion”. What message of hope do you have for us? What do you think needs to be done to prevent this or at the very least reduce the rate of these attacks?
The world is a scary place right now, but I find hope in the fact that discussions are happening, and that people are no longer content to keep their heads down and keep quiet. We’re becoming stronger, pulling together, and standing up for ourselves, refusing to be silenced. The pushback is out of fear. Fear because people are done with being made to feel less than. Tribe is more important than ever now, and we need to come together, and lift each other up. We will get through this, and we’ll change minds one at a time. The world will be a little bit brighter because of it.
Q: OMG do you watch RuPauls drag race? If you do who’s your favorite drag queen(s)? I LOVE Alaska and Violet Chachki.
Sadly I don’t. It’s on my queue with several other things I need to catch up on. My deadlines have been a little intense this year. LOL
Q: So what’s your take on Kevin Spacey’s “Coming out”? Do you think the LGBT community should accept him, given the fact that we pride ourselves in being inclusive and supporting?
Kevin Spacey’s coming out does not erase what he’s being accused of, and I believe the timing of his coming out is not only offensive to the LGBT community, but harmful. I agree with Zachary Quinto’s statement regarding the matter.
You can add some questions for me too, I’d like to make the interview as interactive as possible.
Q: What brought you to the gay romance genre? What was your first read in the genre?
Interestingly, I got into gay romance through fanfiction. I had watched an anime and I loved the chemistry between the two male MC, so I searched online for people who thought the same, that was how I stumbled on fanfiction. I began reading fanfic and checking out fanart. Eventually, I wondered why people weren’t selling gay romance stories considering how interesting they are and how so many people were already receptive to it.
I found out that people did indeed write gay romance stories and I decided to buy one, I kept procrastinating until I traveled home and I was so bored created an Amazon account, and bought a ‘bought’ a free book. It was okay, not mind-blowing like many fanfics but okay. I decided to try again because there had to be a free book that was interesting. I searched for a less romance-focused book that was free and I saw The Foxhole court (Part one in the All for the Game trilogy by Nora Sakavic) It was so beautiful and perfect that without thinking I bought the other two books in the series. Best decision I ever made!
Q: What’s your favorite type of romance?
I’m not sure if you mean what category of romance I read or the heat level. I prefer Angsty Gay romance and lesbian romance books. The angstier the better, even better if the romance isn’t the focus of the book, but a side occurrence. One of the reasons why I love All for the gamer Trilogy is because the ‘romance‘ is almost invisible and even then it cannot really be called romance.
Q: What would you like to see more of in the gay romance genre?
Plot! World building! Relatable characters that aren’t paper thin.
I’d like to see an actual storyline that is compelling, something that will make me stay up at night thinking how the heck did the author think of this? I’d like to read books with interesting yet relatable concepts and not just guy meets guy, it was love at first sight, they had sex, someone fucked up, they made up, the end.
Thank you so much for having me. It’s been an absolute pleasure!