Hi there! I’m Sarah Frantz, and author JL Merrow has been kind enough to let me join her on the virtual book tour for her latest paranormal romance series Damned If You Do. I’ve decided to share a little bit about why we at Riptide are so excited to release this great collection, and how it all came to be. I’ve also come bearing gifts—one lucky commenter will walk away with $10 to spend at Riptide Publishing! Share your thoughts below by midnight on Friday, June 28th to enter.
Last year, Aleks Voinov, one of the co-owners of Riptide, came back from the UK GLBT Meetup with the news that JL Merrow might want to publish with us. I immediately said I’d knife fight anyone for the
chance to edit her. I have always loved her voice and her stories and reviewed a fair number of them at Dear Author when I was there.
When JL sent us the four Damned If You Do stories, I utterly fell in love with them. The premise was adorable and the characters were – as always with JL – amazing and distinct. There was humor, of course, and hot hot sex (Tail!sex, even!).
I particularly love the diversity of the characters. Lars is white, but out of place because he has no supernatural power. Rael is black and a demon and pretty enough to pass for female when he wears a killer red dress. A major secondary character (and suspect in the third story) is a cross dresser. Lars’ partner is a strong, non-stereotypical female character. This is the world I live in and I loved seeing it in the book.
One of the things about JL Merrow’s voice is that it’s uniquely British. Her characters are usually deeply involved in very British things (punting and British university education) that have their own vocabulary and unique rhythm that always come through so well in the stories. So when she sent me the four Damned If You Do stories and I realized they were set in America, I was surprised, intrigued, and vaguely concerned that she wouldn’t be able to pull off an American voice. Of course, I shouldn’t have been worried, because — except for some confusion over what a courgette was (a zucchini) and that we say “cooking show” in America, not “cookery show” — she managed it perfectly, and these stories are as American as her others are English.
While the three previously published DIYD stories had found a small following, we wanted the opportunity to bring Rael and Lars to a much larger audience. However, three of the stories HAD been previously published, so we had to make sure that Riptide was able to give added value to the stories that were, of course, already wonderful, considering that JL had written them. We gave all four stories the same editing treatment we give all stories we publish: developmental edits to make sure the overall story hangs together, then deep line edits to make sure everything hangs together properly on the sentence level.
In the process of edits, the stories grew. Precisely because we were publishing them as a collection, we were able to edit them together, weaving in hints and promises throughout the four distinct plotlines. And because we weren’t TOO worried about individual word counts, we were also able to add more depth of emotion, of explanation, of description, of humor. So each story grew about 10% as we edited.
And the final story has never been published before – JL wrote it for us. It has a humorous mystery and it shows Rael and Lars figuring out how to make their relationship permanent (it really shows Lars being such a MAN when it comes to expressing his emotions). It also wraps up the stories of all the secondary characters, too.
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Lars’s job at the Paranormal Enforcement Agency means he’s supposed to be policing demons, not falling in lust—or love—with them. But there’s something about this feisty little sex demon that hits all his buttons.
With no shortage of deadly sinners in his city, from serial-killing succubi to drug-dealing demons, all Lars can do is try to keep his private life from interfering with his work. But Rael has a knack for getting mixed up in cases that threaten both their domestic harmony and their lives.
Damned If You Do can be purchased from Riptide here.
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 the paranormal, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novella Muscling Through is a 2013 EPIC ebook Award finalist. She is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.
Find JL Merrow online at: www.jlmerrow.com, on Twitter as @jlmerrow, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jl.merrow.