Guest author – JL Merrow

Lovely to welcome Jamie here today. How are you doing, toots?

Hi Charlie – thanks for having me on your blog! It’s great to be here today as part of the Heat Trap blog tour. J

Charlie: Got to ask – when and why did you 'turn to crime'?

JJamie: I’ve always had something of an affinity for crime… No, this isn’t about to turn into a confession! Growing up, I was a voracious reader, and as there was a limit to the number of books my library would let me borrow at a time, my reading was supplemented by my mother’s (fairly vast) stock of paperbacks, and so I read what she read: science fiction, fantasy, and mysteries.

 These days I read very little science fiction and fantasy, but I still love a good mystery. I think perhaps it’s partly because in classic science fiction and fantasy, the characters and, to a lesser extent, plot were sometimes secondary to the science and/or world-building. Mysteries and crime fiction, on the other hand, depend a great deal on plot and character. Now I’m older I find I have less of an attention span for meticulously crafted worlds. I just want to get straight down to the story, and increasingly it’s the characters that make or break a book for me.

I’m also very fond of the “ordinary bloke in extraordinary circumstances” sort of plot and crime is the perfect genre to play around with this idea. I think it lets the reader identify with the character in a way most people can’t with a highly trained police officer, whose reaction to sudden mortal peril or stumbling over a dead body is bound to be different to the average person’s. Which is why, in the Plumber’s Mate books, Tom the plumber is my narrator and not Phil the private investigator. J

Charlie: What's different between writing mystery and romances?

Jamie: Well, to be fair, my mysteries are also, to greater or lesser extent, romances. I find writing mysteries both harder and easier than straightforward romance—mostly, I think, harder! Yes, having a mystery plot at the heart of the book gives you something to hang the romance on, but mystery plots can be tricky little devils to work out. Plotting my work before I write it is not something that comes naturally to me—I’m a dyed-in-the-wool pantser—so writing mystery novels tends to take me longer and involve more tearing of hair.

On the plus side, I think a mystery plot adds an extra dimension to the book, over and above the will-they-won’t-they of a romance (and let’s face it, in a romance, we’re pretty sure they will!)

Charlie: How do you make sure you play fair with the reader?

Jamie: I have some excellent critique partners who are ruthless in rapping me over the knuckles if I don’t!

Charlie: If you could borrow somebody else's sleuth to be in your story, who would it be and why?

Jamie: Ooh, so tempting… It’d have to be someone to knock heads with Phil, I think, because I do love to be cruel to my characters! Maybe BBC’s Sherlock—Phil would hate him, seeing him as an arrogant, over-privileged git. And he’d be jealous of his clothes. I think Tom and John Watson would get on well, though, and Tom and Phil would both like and respect DI Lestrade. Tom might just possibly have the tiniest bit of a crush on him, in fact. Which would lead to Phil not liking the Detective Inspector quite so much, when he realised. But he’d still respect him. Probably. 😉

Or maybe Lord Peter Wimsey—I play with ideas of social class in my Plumber’s Mate books, so it’d be fun to bring in a true blue aristocrat. Phil wouldn’t hate him—Wimsey’s too much of a gentleman to be actively hated—but they’re not likely to end up drinking buddies, either, and it’d all be grist to the inferiority complex mill. Tom, of course, would be fine with any or all of Wimsey, Bunter and the Dowager Duchess, and he’d probably end up charming Harriet Vane as well. Tom can get along with anyone.


Jamie's Giveaway: I’m offering a free ebook from my backlist (including Heat Trap) to a randomly chosen commenter on this post.

And there’s a grand prize of a signed paperback copy of book #2 in my Plumber’s Mate series, the EPIC award finalist Relief Valve, plus a pair of rainbow-coloured merino wool blend wrist-warmers, hand-knitted by the author, for one lucky commenter on the tour.


I’m happy to ship internationally, and the more blog posts you comment on, the more chances you get!

Please remember to leave an email addy in your comment so I can get in touch with you if you win.

I’ll be making the draws around teatime on Wednesday 1st April, GMT (no joke!)

Good luck! 😀


The wrong secret could flush their love down the drain
It’s been six months since plumber Tom Paretski was hit with a shocking revelation about his family. His lover, P.I. Phil Morrison, is pushing this as an ideal opportunity for Tom to try to develop his psychic talent for finding things. Tom would prefer to avoid the subject altogether, but just as he decides to bite the bullet, worse problems come crawling out of the woodwork.
Marianne, a young barmaid at the Devil’s Dyke pub, has an ex who won’t accept things are over between them. Grant Carey is ruthless in dealing with anyone who gets between him and Marianne, including an old friend of Tom and Phil. Their eagerness to step in and help only makes them targets of Grant’s wrath themselves.
With Tom’s uncertainty about Phil’s motives, Tom’s family doing their best to drive a wedge between them, and the revelation of an ugly incident in Phil’s past, suddenly Tom’s not sure whom he can trust.
The body in the Dyke’s cellar isn’t the only thing that stinks.
Warning: Contains British slang, a very un-British heat wave, and a plumber with a psychic gift who may not be as British as he thinks he is.
Available in ebook and paperback: Samhain | | | ARe

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