Gay Book Reviews is thrilled to welcome J.L. Merrow and Josephine Myles as our guest bloggers today! They are here today to celebrate the release of the latest in their Mad About the Brit Boys series of mini-anthologies, Truly, Madly, Boys, a selection of m/m contemporary romance short stories, and are discussing the importance of setting in a story.
Location, Location, Location…
Jamie: I think setting, in a story, is incredibly important – and in fact, for me, I think it can sometimes take on almost too much importance, in that I find the setting of a story influences the whole mood and tone of the story. For example, my novel Fall Hard, which I set in Iceland, became as dark and brooding as that lava-black landscape can be in places. Do you find that, Jo? Or do your characters all rise above the setting you place them in?
Jo: Erm, seeing as how I nearly always set my stories in the West Country–particularly the area around north Somerset, Bath and Bristol–I’m not sure I can separate myself enough from the setting to observe it as an outsider would. I mean, I haven’t always lived here but it’s been over half my life now and I think I’ve become as much of a local as I’ll ever be. After all, I’m mother to two children who will be West Country born and bred, and my partner has a distinctly Bristolian twang to his voice even though he swears he doesn’t.
Let’s just say I love the West Country character and way of talking, and I hope that comes across!
But okay, to be fair I set my First Impressions stories in the area I grew up in, just on the edge of London, and I think the atmosphere of the big city seeped into the story. There’s more of a disconnect between characters and it’s tough for them to bridge the gap. I noticed when I moved out west that people seem much friendlier out here. I don’t think they are, necessarily, but they’re not as guarded so it’s easier to make connections with strangers.
Do you feel you can be in any way objective when using that lovely island you grew up on as a setting?
Jamie: Heh, objective? No! But I hope my love for the place comes over in my writing. I do have to be a bit careful with settings – due to my natural tendency to poke a bit of fun at anything I’m connected with, I was quite recently semi-seriously asked if I had a hate on for Hertfordshire, where my Plumber’s Mate mysteries are set, and where I now live (happily, I’d hasten to say!) I think it’s very British to have a dig at one’s home town – but woe betide any outsider who dares to do so! 😉
Setting does seem to influence character, both in real life and in writing, and I don’t think we’re the only ones affected by it – else how do you explain all those dark, brooding Scandi-noir mysteries? But I also think it’s intriguing to play a setting against type – how about a horror story set in a Cotswold village, or a rom-com in darkest Romania?
What do you think, Jo?
Jo: Well I’m clearly drawn to the Scandi-noir genre as I keep reading/watching it, although I have to admit it bears little relation to the Sweden I remember from my visit there. Perhaps the Scandinavian writers are already playing against type, but it’s now become such a big genre it’s become its own cliche…
Anyway, I’m all for horror and murder mystery mayhem in the Cotswolds. It makes it seem like a more exciting place to live, somehow. After all, it can’t all be cream teas with the vicar and giant vegetable competitions at country fetes. But then again, can you really see me writing some disturbing murder mystery?
Jamie: Heh, no – your murderer and the proposed victim would probably end up inviting the detective along for a kinky threesome instead of getting on with the crime! And don’t get me started on the giant vegetables… 😉
Jo: Hey, have you been snooping in my notebooks?! Seriously, I do like to think I might be doing my own little bit for the local tourist industry. Someone once told me they took a stroll along the canal after reading Barging In, after all!
Have you ever been drawn to visit somewhere after reading about it? All the Scandi-noir I’ve been consuming has definitely made me more interested in visiting Denmark (not something I ever imagined saying!), and your Fall Hard got me Googling holidays in Iceland, I’ll have you know!
Jamie: strangely enough (and happily for my bank balance) it’s often been places relatively close to home that I’ve been inspired to visit by fiction – for example, I thoroughly enjoyed a Sherlock Holmes walking tour in London. But one place that’s fascinated me from reading both history and historical fiction is Pompeii, which I’m lucky enough to be visiting in a few weeks time. Judging from the pictures I’ve seen of phallic graffiti and the like, I may well pick up some writing inspiration while I’m there! 😉
Readers, what’s your favourite fictional settings? And has reading fiction ever inspired you to travel?
Pictures copyright JL Merrow
Title: Truly, Madly, Boys
Author: Josephine Myles & JL Merrow
Release Date: June 10, 2016
Page Count: 78
A Mad About the Brit Boys anthology by JL Merrow and Josephine Myles
Love—the most intense connection.
The challenge of finding love in the world today can take many forms, but at its heart love is the same: it’s all about forging a connection with another person. Experience romance at its most relatable in these four contemporary stories of male-male love with a British flavour from award-winning authors Josephine Myles and JL Merrow.
In these stories you’ll find out how to communicate without words, be teased by a memory that’s just out of reach, flash back to young love and emerging sexuality, and discover how opposites can attract when you meet a stranger in a strange land.
These stories have all been previously published, but are now available exclusively in this anthology.
Buy LinksBuy Link Amazon Global GoodReads
Mad About the Brit Boys Series
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 mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy, and her novella Muscling Through and novel Relief Valve were both EPIC Awards finalists.
JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers’ Circle and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.Website Newsletter Facebook Twitter GoodReads More Author Reviews
English through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. Jo blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. She’s beginning to suspect he enjoys it.
Jo publishes regularly with Samhain, and now has over ten novels and novellas under her belt. Her novel Stuff won the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Bisexual Romance, and her novella Merry Gentlemen won the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Gay Romantic Comedy. She has also been known to edit anthologies and self-publish on occasion, although she prefers to leave the “boring bits” of the ebook creation process to someone else. She loves to be busy, and is currently having fun trying to work out how she is going to fit in her love of writing, dressmaking and attending cabaret shows in fabulous clothing around the demands of a preteen with special needs and an energetic toddler.Website Newsletter Facebook Twitter GoodReads More Author Reviews