Elin’s Qs [notes in brackets won’t appear in the post]My guest today is J L Merrow, a favourite author and a favourite person so I’m delighted to be playing host.
Welcome JL, and thanks for answering my questions.
What led you to pick your source material for your story?
This isn’t the first time I’ve done a Shakespeare based story – my novel Played! is heavily based on/around an amateur production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But for this anthology I wanted to do something a little different—and that’s just what Sonnet 130 is: different. Starting with the famous words, My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun. It’s a love poem that parodies love poems, lampooning the usual flights of purple prose praising the writer’s beloved. But the turn in the last two lines switches the sentiment from satire to sweetness. In essence the writer is saying he sees his mistress clearly, rather than through the rose-tinted spectacles of love: she is a real woman to him, not some remote goddess possessing superlative beauty. And he loves her as she is.
That’s what I think true love really is: loving the person who exists, warts and all, rather than some idealised fantasy of them. In Nothing Like the Sun, both Jerome and Sam have their flaws, both in looks and personality—some more glaring than others. And neither of them is blind to the other’s faults. But true love transcends imperfections.
Shakespeare definitely has a way with words. What is your favourite insult/endearment/inspiring passage/? Which bit do you wish you had written?Gawd, where to start? There are just so many choice turns of phrase in Shakespeare’s works.
One passage that’s stuck with me is Ariel’s song to Ferdinand in The Tempest. Background information: Ferdinand has just been shipwrecked and his father drowned. Ariel’s taunts show a grisly inventiveness that is breathtakingly creepy:
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
I love the rhythm of this short passage, as well as its (horribly) intense visual qualities.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently dividing my time between promoting my recent release Blow Down, the fourth in my Plumber’s Mate Mysteries featuring Phil the private investigator and Tom the slightly psychic plumber, and writing the second of my forthcoming Porthkennack novels for Riptide. One Under (provisional title) is a contemporary m/m romance set in Cornwall, between two men who have very different backgrounds, but turn out to have more in common than they at first realise.
Could we please have an excerpt?
Here’s a short excerpt from Nothing Like the Sun:
I’d been ignoring my laptop all morning. Well, I had so little to look forward to these days; why not build a little anticipation for one of my few remaining pleasures?
There was a message in my inbox. Dead_Pool_Ringer, you have a new message from BoyNextDoor. It was time stamped only three minutes ago.
Heart thumping in ridiculously clichéd fashion, I clicked. How are you? I read.
I typed, Still hideous. Just before hitting send I hesitated. Deleted it. Typed in Okay, I guess, and sent that instead.
He knew what I looked like. Not that I’d posted a photo, but I’d been entirely upfront about my appearance in my profile when I set up the account on the dating site. I’d also been upfront about the fact that a meeting was out of the question.
Why bother, then?
Because this was the reason I could manage without therapy.
Bad morning? BoyNextDoor typed.
Had a friend visit, I typed. Because Sam was a friend, as well as an employee. We’d been at school together from the age of seven—enough history to keep us together despite very different career paths.
I’d had the caretaking role, back in those early days. Short and tubby, with National Health Service spectacles and a stutter, Sam had been every bully’s dream. I was never entirely sure why I’d taken his side over theirs. Perhaps something about him had meshed with a part of me I hadn’t yet learned to recognise. Or perhaps it was simply that even then, I yearned for the role of hero. At any rate, I fought his battles and waited for him to worship me for it.
In a shocking twist—at least to my seven-year-old self—he rounded on me angrily and insisted he didn’t need my help.
It was my first failed audition: the role of Sam’s friend.
What did I do then? I cheated, of course.
JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.
She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy, and her novella Muscling Through and novel Relief Valve were both EPIC Awards finalists.
JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers’ Circle and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.
Release Date: 12th of August
Cover Art: Jay Aheer Simply Defined Art
Genre: MM Mixed*
We have modern retelling of some plays, interpretations of others and one of the sonnets, and delightful referencing of anything Shakespeare.
There is gentle YA romance next to very hot 18+ stories and all kinds of relationships – first love, May/December, interracial, second chances, happy endings and even a tragic one.
We’re travelling from Ancient Rome through Renaissance England to modern day UK, Venice Beach and other places in USA, Vancouver and Havana.
There’s fun, drama, tears, angst, joy and, above all, lots of true love.
Note: All proceeds of this collection go to the It Gets Better Project™.