Q&A: J.L. Merrow of BLOW DOWN

Blow Down J.L. Merrow

You know what’s a great sign that we’ll love a book? When an author has great taste in pretty much everything even vaguely Romance related.

Okay, so we’re biased. But we second every single favorite of the brilliant J.L. Merrow, author of Blow Down.

Even Deadpool? Especially Deadpool.



What are your five favorite movies with romance or romantic elements?

Now, this is a tough one as I’m more of a sci-fi/action movie gal. But here goes:

  1. Deadpool. The romance between ‘Pool and Vanessa is so touching: a real meeting of souls. His crazy matches her crazy. Morena Baccarin is drop-dead gorgeous, which never hurts—and get this: she is (unbelievably) 37 to Ryan Reynolds’ 39. How often do you see a leading man pushing forty paired with a lady only 2 years younger?
  2. The X-Men What do you mean, there’s no actual Professor X/Magneto romance?
  3. The Hobbit: the love story between Aidan Turner’s Kili and Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel is so sweet and fraught with external conflict and tragedy. Poor loves. And great to see a height difference that goes against society’s norm when the guy is not insanely rich/powerful.
  4. Guy Richie’s Sherlock Holmes The subtext is very rapidly becoming the text!
  5. Hellboy. He’s a demon from the fires of damnation: she’s a pyrokinetic out of control. It’s a match made in Hell.

Describe your favorite scene from each one (you can include a Youtube clip if you want as well).

      1. The montage including International Women’s Day, among other holidays. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll remember it—and if you haven’t, you need to! (NSFW!)
      2. When they’re old and played by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, and Xavier comes to play chess with Magneto in prison. So much history and restrained emotion between the two of them.
      3. The scene where Kili gives Tauriel his mother’s runestone. If you know the story, and the significance of the stone, it’s even more heartwrenching.
      4. Every single scene where Holmes and Watson bicker like a married couple.
      5. The scene where their kiss is literally scorching hot.



Did you have any of these scenes in mind when writing scenes from your latest release?

Hmm. As my book contains no dwarves, elves, mutants, demons or Victorians I can safely say, no, I didn’t! 😉



If you could only read five books for the rest of your life, what five books would they be, and why?

  1. Ann Radcliffe’s The Italian. Full of lush scenery and with an unusually complex villain. It’s my favourite of her books.
  2. Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa. It’s insanely long—nearly a million words—so would keep me going for a goodly time.
  3. Terry Pratchett’s Pyramids. I adore all of the much missed Sir Pterry’s books, but this is the one I consistently seek out for a comfort read. It’s got everything: assassins; ancient Egypt; the total subversion of stereotypes.
  4. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, because it’s another comfort read and bears re-reading so well.
  5. Dostoevsky’s War and Peace. So I would never be in the position where I had nothing left to read I hadn’t read already…


Who are your book boyfriends? (list a maximum of five) What do you like about them? What characteristics do they share with the hero from your latest release?

I’m not sure I really have book boyfriends. Does Ross Poldark as played by Aidan Turner in the BBC drama series count? Or anyone played by Aidan Turner, to be honest. You may be noticing a theme, here…

I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for the tall, dark and brooding hero. As my book Blow Down has two men in a romantic pairing, I was able to split up the characteristics: Tom, my narrator, gets the dark hair; whereas the love of his life, Phil, gets to be tall and brooding. He’s got a lot to brood about: over a decade’s worth of guilt about his involvement in an accident in their late teens that left Tom with a lifelong limp. Tom, of course, doesn’t blame him for the accident, but his friends and family aren’t so clear-sighted.

If I was forced to pick an actual book boyfriend, I’d probably plump for Thomas Nightingale in Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series about England’s magical police (because picking narrator Peter Grant would be far too much like cradle snatching!) Granted, the Nightingale probably veers a little far in the opposite direction (he’s well over a hundred, but hey, he’s been aging backwards for a while now) and I strongly suspect he bats for the other team (looking for “a slightly ethnic younger boyfriend”). Still, he’s an old-fashioned gentleman who’s willing to update his attitudes, and he wears bespoke suits and drives a Jag. Oh, and he can do magic. What’s not to like?


Everyone has a favorite couple (an “OTP” in ‘shipping terms) in romance, whether in a romance book, movie, or television series. Who is your favorite couple, and why?

Well, I don’t have just one!  As my daughter has been press-ganging me into watching her favourite cartoons lately, I’m currently shipping Ruby/ Sapphire from Steven Universe, and Katara/Zuko from The Avatar. I don’t seem to have a lot of time to watch my own choice of shows, but I’d have to confess I have a bit of a thing for Governor Feron/Lucien Grimauld in BBC’s The Musketeers.  I seem to be in a minority of one, however! 🙁


What was the first romance novel you read?

Hmm. I can’t remember now which came first, but probably either Pride and Prejudice or one of Thomas Hardy’s many romances. You see, while I was at university I found an excellent place to study for my science degree, and that was the college literature library. It was light, it was airy, it was quiet. But chiefly it was excellent because of all the lovely classics on the shelves I could dip into whenever quantum mechanics got a trifle taxing. I think I read all of Hardy’s books there, plus Forster’s A Room With a View and probably many others less memorable. Please do not ask me to explain quantum mechanics.

Yes, I got my degree. An upper second, even. No, I have no idea how that happened either.


What do you remember about it?

Pride and Prejudice: that it was not what I thought it would be. That it was good. In Britain, romance as a genre suffers from a bad reputation, with many people denigrating the whole genre while never having opened a romantic novel in their lives—despite drinking up romantic adventures that are simply marketed differently. I was one of those people. Once I’d tried romance, I loved it.

Thomas Hardy: that it was about a woman with two lovers. This, I think, applies to all of Thomas Hardy’s books, except Jude the Obscure, which is about a man with two lovers. And a pig’s penis.


What did you like most about it?

It opened up a whole new world of literature for me. Once I’d read Pride and Prejudice, I raced through the rest of Austen’s works—and when I got to Northanger Abbey, and read the introduction, I was in heaven. For those who haven’t read it, Northanger Abbey is a parody of sensationalist romances of the time, including Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho. The Oxford edition lists all the books lampooned and/or alluded to. I spent many happy hours/days/weeks (these were pre-internet days, remember) tracking down copies of as many of them as possible, and it left me with a lasting love of Radcliffe’s work.


What did you like least about it?

At the time, I couldn’t have answered this question. However, when I first read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, I realized what was missing from all of Austen’s works: real, raw emotion. We get a glimpse of it in Sense and Sensibility, but I was blown away by the depth of feeling in works by the Brontes. And when I read Austen’s predecessor Fanny Burney’s books, I felt in some ways Mrs Burney’s young people were more real, more fallible, than Austen’s, who are at times rather mannered for modern tastes.


Have you ever reread it? If you did, how do you feel about it now?

I’ve re-read Pride and Prejudice—and indeed all of Austen’s works—so many times. It’s like sitting down for a cosy chat with an old and valued friend.



Darcy or Wentworth?

(bonus: who’s your favorite Darcy or Wentworth on screen?)

Darcy; I’ve never really warmed to Wentworth, what with all that business of rubbing his romance with the much younger Louisa in poor Anne’s face.

And my favourite Darcy: Colin Firth, without a doubt! Yes, I’m thinking of the swimming in the lake scene. But admit it, so are you. 😉


Rochester or Heathcliff?

Neither. What’s romantic about locking your ex up in an attic? And Heathcliff is a psychopathic domestic abuser with good PR.


Spock or Kirk?

Chekov. Alas.


Sunrise or sunset?

Sunset. I love the glorious colours we get at sunset. And the glorious sleep I get at sunrise.


Angst or humor?

Humour. But I don’t mind if you omit the “u”. 😉


Tea or coffee?

Coffee. It is the life-giving nectar of the gods, while tea is vile, nasty stuff that leaves your mouth dry and tastes even worse if you add milk to it.

Yes, I am still British. Why do you ask?


Wine or beer?

Mine’s a Shiraz. Ta.


Cake or pie?

Neither. Unless it’s a really good cheesecake. Or a savoury pie. Or a Cornish pasty, which would be even better.


Scruff, beard, or clean-shaven?

I’m loving the new fashion for beards. I wrote recently that I find a man with a beard 67% more trustworthy. This is possibly an understatement.


Blue-collar or white collar?

Blue. It goes with my eyes…


Jeans or a suit?

It depends who’s wearing them, and what they feel most comfortable in.


Car or motorcycle?

Bicycle. It’s better for the environment. Not to mention the thighs! 😉

JL MerrowJ.L. 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 the paranormal, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novella Muscling Through was a 2013 EPIC Award finalist, and her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy. Her novel Relief Valve is a finalist in the 2015 EPIC Awards.

J.L. Merrow is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team. She can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and JLMerrow.com.

2 Responses to “Q&A: J.L. Merrow of BLOW DOWN”

  1. JL Merrow

    Thanks so much for hosting me – I had great fun answering your questions! 😀

    • Mallory Soto

      I’m so glad! We try to keep the questions…spicy? We’ll go with spicy! 😀

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