Thank you for taking some down time and spending it with us. Let’s start this off with a beverage. We have coffee, tea, some sort of juice (I think it’s been in here a few weeks) and soda. What would you like?
Coffee for me, please. None of that nasty tea stuff (and yes, I do realize I’m calling my very Britishness into question here!) Can’t stand it.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m British; born and bred on the Isle of Wight and therefore able to proudly call myself a Caulkhead. I’ve been an avid reader all my life, and an avid writer for the last few years. Well, it beats getting a proper job! 😉
When you received news that your manuscript had been accepted what were the first words that fell from your mouth?
These days, with the contract often being signed before I actually deliver the goods, it’s usually just a sigh of relief! 😉
What forces brought you over to the MM Genre and what made you want to write it?
Dark, dark forces…*g* Online friends, actually. Like many of us in the genre, I started out as a fanfic writer. Then I found out some of my friends were writing original gay fiction and getting published—and picked their brains mercilessly on how to do it. (We’re still friends, so they can’t have minded too much!)
Would you care for some cookies? We have chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal with or without raisins and a package of mystery ones. We have cake too. Your choice.
Mmm, chocolate chip, please. Unless the cake is cheesecake? *hopes*
Waaaaaiiit a minute. Cookies? Does this mean I’ve come over to the Dark Side? 😉
Yes, yes it does. LOL! How many hours a day do you spending writing?
Honestly? I have no idea. It varies greatly from day to day, and even if I’m sitting at my computer, that doesn’t mean I’m actually getting stuff written! Then again, there’s a lot more to this writing business than just getting words on the page, what with edits, promo, stalking the Amazon ranking… *g*
Do you write right through or do you revise as you go along?
A bit of both, really. I often find a bit of gentle editing is a good way to ease into the day’s writing, but if I’m on a roll I‘ll just keep going.
When it comes to plotting, do you write freely or plan everything in advance?
I’m a dedicated pantser. I was about 60k into the latest mystery before I was able to proudly announce to my local writers’ group that I knew whodunnit! I’m comforted by the fact that apparently Agatha Christie’s method was somewhat similar. 😉
Of your characters do you have a favorite and why?
I love all my boys and girls, but I must admit a particular soft spot for Al from Muscling Through. Of all my characters, he was probably the most challenging—and the most fun—to write. Then again, I’m very fond of Tim from Hard Tail, too. That book is quite personal to me, and it was great to be able to work with my brother on the technical side.
Writers often go on about writer’s block. Do you ever suffer from it, and what measures do you take to get past it?
I do suffer from writers’ block from time to time, and the only way I’ve found to get round it is by stopping writing for a bit. I know some authors say you should write your way through it, but that’s never worked for me. I need to get away from the keyboard and let the creative batteries recharge themselves.
Do you have a particular spot in your house that you call your comfy zone? (The place where you write.)
I think “the messy zone” probably describes it rather more accurately! My writing “cave” tends to accumulate clutter in the form of reference material (hey, you can’t do everything online); files of contracts and tax stuff; author copies of print books; unused swag; and print-outs of bits of stories. Oh, and my fan, which sits on the desk next to me and is absolutely indispensible in the summer.
When you’re in the mindset to write, do you put a sign up that warns others not to disturb you while at work?
I would, if I thought there was any realistic chance of it being heeded!
How would you describe your sense of humor? Who and what makes you laugh?
My sense of humour? Rather British, I suspect. Who makes me laugh? Terry Pratchett, without a doubt. His books are a masterclass in comedy writing. And as for TV, ooh, lots of things, really. Blackadder, repeats of The Two Ronnies, Mock the Week…
What are you working on now?
I’ve just finished the second draft of the sequel to Pressure Head, provisionally titled Relief Valve, which is due out next March. I’ve really enjoyed writing Tom and Phil again, and I’m planning to write at least one more book in the Plumber’s Mate series. I realised this quite near to the end of Relief Valve which, without giving too much away, kind of demands another book! It’s by no means a cliff-hanger, but it does leave you wanting to know more. Well, it left me and my crit partners wanting to know more, at any rate! And I think this may be the secret to writing a series; if the writer ever reaches the point where she’s discovered everything about her characters, it’s probably time to stop.
Writing is obviously not just how you make your living, but your life-style as well. What do you do to keep the creative “spark” alive – both in your work and out of it?
It’s actually something I increasingly have to remind myself to do! While it’s sometimes tempting to stay snug in the writer’s cave, no one can get inspired in a vacuum. Lately I’ve been challenging myself to say “yes” to things I might otherwise have declined, like public speaking or white-water rafting. It’s amazing how much less daunting things are if you just view the experience, good or bad, as material for a future novel!
What kind of books do you like to read outside of the MM Genre?
I like old-fashioned mysteries, such as Dorothy L Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey books and the Sherlock Holmes stories. I used to read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, particularly urban fantasy (and I must admit to a fangirly squee on finding myself recently in an anthology with Carrie Vaughn, author of the Kitty Norville werewolf series). I’ve always loved classic authors such as Jane Austen, Ann Radcliffe, Fanny Burney, and Thomas Hardy—many of whose books I read at university (while I was supposed to be revising physics). And Pratchett, of course. I worship at the comic feet of Sir Terry. Basically, I like reading stuff that’s fun. J
Pick one: Scientist, Astronaut, Retail, or Horse Trainer-
Scientist. Brains are sexy. Also tasty, but only if you’re a zombie. I have eaten brains, but as I am not, in fact, a zombie I did not enjoy the experience. >(
Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
I’m a member of the UK Meet organizing team, I’m in a choir (one of those friendly ones where you don’t, actually, have to be able to sing very well) and I’ve just started learning to knit.
Any special projects coming out soon we should watch for?
Lots and lots of scarves (see above re knitting).
Can you please tell us where we can find you on the Internet?
My website and blog is at www.jlmerrow.com – please drop by and leave me a comment! I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jl.merrow and Twitter at https://twitter.com/jlmerrow
It was a pleasure having you here with us today. Please come by and let us know how you’re doing from time to time. OH! And before you leave, can I get your help here in the kitchen? Thanks!!
Thanks so much for having me here—it’s been great! The cheese cake was delicious. And I’d love to help in the kitchen, honestly, but I’m afraid I have some urgent, um, editing to do. Lots and lots of editing. *walks away swiftly*
*looks over shoulder and breaks into a run*
Tsk. You are missing out on the dishes.