An Interview with Les Cochran: Signature Affair

Dec 4, 2013 by

Signature AffairMichael F. Shaughnessy

1)      Les, what gave you the initial idea for “ Signature Affair”?

At cocktail parties over the years, I often joked about an imaginary university president that had multiple affairs.  As the stories grew and became more embellished, a friend starting bugging me—“Les you need to write a book.”  At first it was at the parties then in emails and phone calls.  I said, “I’ve never read fiction.  I don’t have a story line.”

It didn’t stop; she was a terrier.   I started thinking about the story and five years ago I started writing—no outline, no plan.  Repeatedly my wife said “Les you have to read fiction.”  I kept writing.  Six months later I finished the first draft—550 pages, doubled spaced.

My wife, Lin, asked, “What are you going to do with it?”  I said, “I don’t know … I don’t know if it’s any good or not.”

An author friend suggested I contact her editor.  Six weeks later I received her evaluation.  The first sentence—“you write pretty well but sociology papers don’t sell”—was followed by five pages of weaknesses and shortcomings.

Clearly writing fiction was quite different than I had ever written before.  But in the last sentence she wrote:  “I like the story and if you’re willing I will help you learn how to write fiction.  It was a challenge, and I became addicted to writing, three or four hours a day, whenever I had any free time.  Under her guidance, I edited, revised and edited for the next four years.

2)      In a sense your book is about college and university life, as well as the life of a sex addict. How do  you juxtapose the two?

University life carries the story—fundraising, athletics, etc. .  As president, Steve is highly successful.  His sex addiction problem unfolds later in the book and he struggles to deal with leadership challenges and the stress of his addiction.

3)      I realize you are not a psychologist, but what makes these people ( sex addicts ) think that they are going to get away with what they do ? Or are they driven?

 

The invincibility of the main character is not related to his sex addiction. Steve also has a narcissistic personality disorder.  He doesn’t think about getting caught; it never enters into his thought pattern.

 

4)      Are these individuals in need of treatment ? Is this a compulsion?

I did a lot of research on addictive behavior and had Dr. Francis R. Valenti, a Certified Addiction Professional, review the book.  The characteristics for all addicts are the same.  It doesn’t matter if it’s smoking, drinking, gambling or sex.  The problem is always there, and the likelihood of full recovery is practically nil.

5)      Surely, there has to be some common sense in the mind of a University or College President that they are going to be exposed-or not?

Common sense is not so common for individuals.  They are sly and skilled in hiding the problems.  Nothing is obvious.  A college president has lunch at the country club with a rich widow.  The two play golf with two other donors—fundraising or philandering?  The president is highly successful and has raised millions.  People think nothing of it or turn the other cheek.

6)      What are some of the tenure and promotion decisions that you address in your book?

There are no promotion and tenure issues in this book.  There is an episode where “townies” question tenure and why it is available to faculty.   Costly Affair, my next book in draft stage, does have a scene dealing with the challenges of changing a tenure policy.

7)      You have a pretty nifty infomercial about the book- whose idea and who did the singing?

The promotional video was produced by Bookstand Publishing and was part of our contract.  I don’t have any information on the singer.

8)  Can you provide the link for the infomercial- or whatever you call it?

It’s on YouTube.  Click on:    Signature Affair by Les Cochran

We call it a book promo.

9)      What about faculty members- do you think they too, take advantage of their position to exploit women?

Regardless of position, some men exploit women.

10)      Surely some of the women in the book have some common sense- you have a doctor, a violinist, a former All American Basketball player etc. Or are they just “ love slobs”?

He treats the women in ways they’ve never been treated before.  His goal is not to satisfy himself; rather, he strives to exceed their expectation—that’s how he is satisfied.  Also, remember addictive behavior is not limited to men, and it comes in all levels of addiction.  Steve is a ten on a ten-point scale.  Some of the women are on the scale too.  Some of the women are normal, just got in his web.

11)   What have I neglected to ask ?

Signature Affair: Love, Lies and Liaisons is the first of a trilogy.  It’ll be followed by Costly Affair and Presidential Affair. I don’t have anything else to add at this point but remain open to any further questions you may have.

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