Howdy, Delighted Readers!
I am tickled to welcome as guest today an author who has long entertained me with her pen. Her characters are colorful and engaging, her romances sexy and heartwarming, her sense of humor shines through, and I’ve yet to pick up one of her books that I didn’t love. With us today celebrating the release for the final book, Lock Nut, in her addicting and fun The Plumber’s Mate Mystery series is author, JL Merrow.
Glad to have you with us today, Jamie! I know better to not offer you tea and I don’t drink coffee so you wouldn’t want to trust me around the coffee machine… so how about a glass of lemonade?
I hope you’re planning to put some Pimm’s in it! 😉 And thank you for the welcome! It’s great to be here today.
Incidentally, how does that work- not drinking tea when you live in the UK? I imagine it’s a bit like not drinking coffee and living in Seattle, the home of Starbucks coffee. Ha!
It’s not so bad. I’ve got very used to repeating “No, thank you” when offered tea multiple times until it sinks in, and I’m accustomed to the funny looks. And in these enlightened times, very little active shunning goes on.
As, I noted in the intro, your books have been entertaining me for some time. When you first started writing, did you ever imagine a career of it and a fabulous backlist of books?
A world of nope. When I started out, short stories were my thing, and while writing them was fun, that’s not a way to make a living. Working up to novel length felt a lot like climbing Mount Snowdon!
What is something you learned about writing that you feel has made your writing better?
That any bit of writing advice is only good if it works for you.
Tailored to fit. I like that.
How did it feel (and did you celebrate) to have your books showing up as finalists for big awards and, then, Slam winning in 2013?
My inner Sally Field was all over the place! We writers have such fragile egos, it’s always nice to get a bit of recognition/confirmation that at least somebody likes our work. 😉
On a side note, I noticed in your bio that you are an organizer for UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet. I was curious and followed the link. It sounds neat. Can you share something about this group/event?
UK Meet is a friendly, inclusive event for anyone who loves GLBTQ fiction. We’ve grown from humble beginnings in 2010 (a dozen authors meeting in a library in Ely) to a sell-out event which we’ve capped at 150 attendees to preserve the friendly atmosphere our delegates tell us they love. Previously held yearly, UK Meet has recently moved to being held every other year. The location for 2018 is the Bristol Royal Marriott, which has hosted us before in 2014 and 2015, and we’ll be there from 8th-9th September 2018. We’ll have panels for both authors and readers, and social events including a Gala Dinner.
For further details and a link to subscribe to our mailing list (vital if you want to get tickets for the next Meet, as they sell out fast) please see our website: https://ukglbtfictionmeet.co.uk/
Oh wowsers, I can see why it sells out fast.
Well, I suppose I should move it along and ask you about this sensational and addicting mystery series you have written. How did you first come up the concept of Tom and his detecting adventures with Phil? Was Tom always going to be a psychic plumber?
The idea of a psychic plumber came up in a slightly inebriated brainstorming session in Prague many years ago. As for where it came from? I have no idea. I suppose I’ve always been drawn more to blue-collar professions, rather than corporate big shots—other main characters of mine have included a postman (Spun!), a handyman (Played!) and a rat catcher (Caught!) And I suspect it’s the Brit in me—we’re traditionally a nation of amateurs—that liked the idea of Tom having these psychic powers but not really knowing what to do with them.
Of all the side characters, who was the most fascinating to write? I know that’s a tough question because as a reader, I found Cherry, Gary, Darren, and Dave all just hilarious and endearing in their own ways.
That’s a toughie, because I love them all in different ways. I think my favourite thing to write was Cherry bonding with Gary, because they are on the surface so different. Cherry started out as very uptight, but she’s loosened up a lot since the books began, and it’ll be interesting to see how marriage changes her.
But writing Gary and Darren is so much fun, particularly as we see them through Tom’s eyes.
For sure! They make a scene just sparkle and make me snort and try not to cackle.
At any point, did the series take a surprising twist you were not expecting?
Heh, I’m a dedicated pantser so it’s always taking twists I’m not expecting!
What sort of research did you have to do for the series? Did you already know about plumbing before writing about Tom? Incidentally, I love those little on the job scenes for him and the fun title tie-ins with his career.
It’s a combination of personal experience of plumbing issues, talking to people (I have a real-life plumber’s wife to thank for the revelation of “eau de plumber”, which is the clinging smell of the sealants they use, and online research. Plus a bit of good, old-fashioned Making it Up.
I saw that you re-released this series and the note for each book that there was some light editing for the re-releases. I read the first book a few years back before the edits, but it had been too long for me to catch any changes. What sort of things were changed?
Very little, which is just as I wanted it. I felt very strongly that, as readers have followed Tom and Phil’s lives through the first four books and I hope will continue to do so, it would be wrong to go back and change anything of significance.
What is a particular scene in Lock Nut that is one of your most memorable and why?
Well, I’m usually quite partial to the finding-the-body scenes. Or the Tom-in-peril scenes. A standout scene in Lock Nut for me is the chase scene through Camden Market at the start of the book, because it was such fun to research and write. And, of course, I’m rather fond of the very last scene in the book—but to tell you about that one would be spoilerish! 😉
Whew boy was that scene one for the books. Love how you can make danger a comedy situation, too.
Is the release of Lock Nut the last of the Plumber’s Mate mysteries or will there be more- or maybe someday?
Oh, there will definitely be more! I’ve already started on the next in the series, which will have a change in location and will see the return of a figure from Tom and Phil’s past.
You just relieved me to no end. I heard rumors that this was it and I was experiencing a little book depression there.
And, as I prepare to let you go, what’s next from the writing desk of JL Merrow?
The next few months are going to be busy! I’ve got three of my older books coming out in second edition June-August: my romantic suspense Wight Mischief, and my two werewolf books, Camwolf and Midnight in Berlin. July will also see the release of the Upstaged anthology about women who love women in the performing arts, which will include my first ever steampunk story, London Lark. And in September the third of my Porthkennack books will be released, Love at First Hate.
Oh hmm, very helpful to know. I’m looking at you Upstaged.
Thanks so much for stopping by today, Jamie!
Thank you for hosting me! It’s been great fun. J
Hi, I’m JL Merrow, and I’m delighted to be here today as part of the blog tour to celebrate the release of Lock Nut, the fifth of my MM mysteries in the Plumber’s Mate Mystery Series. In Lock Nut, a simple hunt for a missing husband turns into a chase after a murderer when a body turns up in a local canal—and slightly psychic plumber Tom Paretski ends up with his face on TV as the prime suspect! Meanwhile, wedding bells are ringing all over the place…
About Lock Nut
Still waters run deadly.
Tom Paretski, plumber with a talent for finding hidden things, and his private investigator fiancé Phil Morrison have been hired to locate a runaway husband, Jonathan Parrot. The job seems simple enough—until their quarry turns up dead in a canal, and a photofit of Tom’s face is splashed all over the news, making him chief suspect.
The widow, petite ex–porn star Lilah Lovett, is convinced her husband was killed by his gay lover, but Tom and Phil aren’t so sure. Worried they may have precipitated Jonathan’s death, they’re determined to find the real killer. But with a web of incestuous ties linking the suspects, it’s hard to know who to trust. Especially when a second victim dies a gruesome death.
Meanwhile, with their wedding looming and them sharing a house now, Tom’s worried it may all be too much, too fast. The last thing he needs are the mixed messages Phil seems to be sending out. They’ll need to get back on the same track if they want to make it to their honeymoon together—and alive.
About The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries
A plumber with a hidden talent and an ex–school bully who’s trying to atone for his past. This unlikely crime-solving duo could be the worst thing that’s ever happened to the murderers of rural Hertfordshire, England.
All his life, cheeky plumber Tom Paretski’s had a sixth sense for finding hidden things. Mostly it’s brought him nothing but grief, but ever since tall, blond, and broody Phil Morrison stomped back into his life, Tom’s been using his psychic talents to track down killers. He’s shocked to find himself falling for the man he used to hate.
Phil’s an ex-cop turned private investigator who can’t forgive himself for the pain he caused Tom in their shared schooldays—especially his part in an accident which left Tom with a lasting limp. Finally able to face up to his feelings for Tom, Phil’s determined to make amends. Just as long as the murderers who won’t stop crossing their path don’t rob him of the chance to do so for good.
The path of their investigations may not run any smoother than their love life, but with the help (and hindrance) of a motley crew of friends and family—including the world’s campest campanologist and his ex–porn star lover—with any luck Tom and Phil will continue to get their man.
Publisher’s note: Each book in this series stands alone as a murder mystery, but the series as a whole follows Tom and Phil’s romantic journey from enemies to lovers, and beyond. It’s recommended, but not essential, to read the books in order.
About JL Merrow
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.
She writes (mostly) contemporary gay romance and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Two of her novels have won Rainbow Awards for Romantic Comedy (Slam!, 2013 and Spun!, 2017) and several of her books have been EPIC Awards finalists, including Muscling Through, Relief Valve (the Plumber’s Mate Mysteries) and To Love a Traitor.
JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.
Connect with JL:
To celebrate the release of Lock Nut, JL Merrow is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 19, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!