R.L. Merrill on Writing, Research, and her new release Hurricane Reese (author interview)


Hurricane Reese by R.L. Merrill
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Kanaxa

 Buy Links:

 Dreamspinner eBook and  Paperback 


Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host R.L. Merrill here today on tour for Hurricane Reese. Welcome!


Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with R.L. Merrill

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

A lot of me goes into characters, and a lot of people I know show up in aspects of characters. I also tend to have a “muse” for my characters, especially the musicians. I can hear them singing.

  • Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

I put my characters in experiences I’ve never had before from time to time and so it’s fun to figure out how they’ll react to certain situations because they’re foreign to me. But I’ve also been quite candid with some of the things that have happened to me that have ended up in books.

  • Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I absolutely love research, but I don’t go crazy. I’ll do just enough to get the right feel into my stories. I don’t tend to write stories where there needs to be a ton of detail. With Hurricane Reese, I’d had experience with the issues involved, but I did talk to friends that are currently caring for their parents as well as a friend who is a nurse in a psychiatric care facility who deals mainly with patients experiencing dementia and Alzheimer’s.

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

I read a lot of Stephen King and Anne Rice as a teen, and I’ve only just become brave enough to dabble with horror and romance together. I loved Judy Blume as a kid and I think I was actually influenced by her tendency to put her characters in real-life situations and grow them as characters while they work out their issues. I’ve done a lot of that. In Hurricane Reese, I wanted to explore a man dealing with the care of his grandparent on his own. I have had a lot of experience with that in the past few years and it really changes you, often for the better. And life tends to go on around you when you are in the thick of it.

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

Yes! The more personal the story, sometimes I find myself getting a little too into the murky waters and I need to work on something else or lose myself in some books for a few days. With this story, it was different. I loved these characters so much, I couldn’t bear to bring on the black moment. I took a couple of weeks off until I was ready to torture them. It sucked and I was really sad. I cried along with them. But then it makes me work faster toward the end so I can fix everything.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I do like them and I write them, but I honestly don’t need them. I read books often that don’t have a happy ending and I actually don’t mind cliffhangers. I had to get past that when I started writing romance because my editor was like “Uh, you can’t do this. Your readers will hate you.” So I gave in. But someday… heh heh

  • Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I didn’t really, no. As a teen it was horror, and then in my twenties I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers. Patricia Cornwell, Tony Hillerman, Caleb Carr were devoured quickly. But then I got sick and I discovered J.R. Ward and Sherrilyn Kenyon and I was hooked on the darker romances with monsters and action and adventure. Sold! When I started writing, however, that’s not really what came out.

  • How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I can really only read ebooks now because I need to make the font gigantic in order to read and I love the portability. I read on my phone so I always have a book with me. I get way more reading done that way. You can also sneak books easier when they’re on a phone, you know, when you’re supposed to be doing other adult things? But young folks tend to prefer print so I don’t think they’ll be going away ever.

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

What’s next for you as an author?

  • If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”? 

I don’t think so. In fact, the more real the better for me. Yes, contemporary romance should be an escape and fantasy for the reader, but honestly, I like characters who are real and who have to deal with real-life issues.

  • Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

There are certain no nos for me as a reader. Cheating? I can’t go there. I don’t like love triangles much. So those things, while not necessarily character flaws, I don’t dig them. I can deal with some pretty damaged characters so I don’t know if a flaw necessarily makes someone unlovable. I tend to have hope and believe in redemption.

  • Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

I don’t drink anymore, so unless I’m drunk on chocolate and Diet Coke, probably not. I have had a drunk shopping experience that my husband has never let me forget. It involved a certain red and orange sundress. I did try to write whilst in the throes of ‘roid rage. I have frequently had to take steroids for my asthma, which leads to late night insanity, so yeah, I don’t recommend that.

  • If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

I love to write around people. My favorite places have an all-you-can-drink soda fountain and good music. I have done some amazing writing at our #wordsonthepage retreats sponsored by the San Francisco Area Romance Writers of America group. We went to Fort Bragg, CA and stayed in an old bed and breakfast and I got like 14k written! And I’m headed to Grass Valley, CA in three weeks and I have lofty goals for this one too. But the next best thing is curling up in my bed or on my couch with my dog and cats. They are great writing assistants.

  • With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To wide our knowledge?  Why do you write?

When I started, it was to deal with an awful situation I’d found myself in. Then it was to deal with the death of my father. Then it morphed into a way to keep me sane while trying to work as a teacher and keep up with my two busy children. It was something that was mine. And now, it drives me, motivates me, and keeps me moving forward.

  • What’s next for you as a writer?

Hurricane Reese will be out 1/30, then I will release three anthology pieces in May and August. Other than that, I’m hoping Reese will become a series, I’m working on finishing some stories in my self-published worlds, and I’ll be attending RT Reno, RWA in Denver, and hopefully the Dreamspinner Workshop in September. I hope to get to meet more readers and authors in the coming months!

Thank you so much for having me and thanks for supporting stories of romance and hope!

—R.L. Merrill



Tony award-winning musician Reese Matheson’s life resembles a natural disaster, and caregiver Jude De La Torre is caught in the eye of the storm. Can the love these two opposites find together survive caring for an ornery octogenarian with wayward balls and a meddling family insistent upon tradition?


A public break-up is not what Reese expects upon returning from the successful run of his musical in London. All he wants to do is spend time with his beloved grandfather and musical mentor, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Reese knows he doesn’t have much time left before the elder Matheson doesn’t remember him. In classic “Hurricane Reese” form, he moves into the cottage by the sea, displacing Jude, the intriguing caregiver he’d hired two years before. When Grandpa proves too much for Reese to handle on his own, Jude comes to his rescue, taming Grandpa… and the Hurricane as well. Soon all Reese can think about is how to get Jude out of his scrubs and into his bed. Permanently. Will Hurricane Reese destroy everything in its wake, or will this gay odd couple learn to harmonize together?

Spotify Playlist Link: https://open.spotify.com/user/rlmerrillauthor/playlist/79BaPjDRZXUwVr5tPI9FNC

About the Author

Once upon a time… a teacher, tattoo collector, mom, and rock ’n’ roll kinda gal opened up a doc and started purging her demons. Several self-published books and a debut gay romance with Dreamspinner Press later, R.L. Merrill is still striving to find that perfect balance between real life and happily ever after. She writes stories set in the places she loves most, such as Hollywood, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Northern California—and Iowa. Ro also loves connecting with other authors online, at the annual Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, and chapter meetings for the Romance Writers of America, of which she’s been a member since 2014.

A sucker for underdogs, Ro has adopted a wide variety of pets including cats, dogs, rats, a snake and fish. Her love of horror is evident the moment you walk in her door and find yourself surrounded by decorative skulls and quirky artwork from around the world. You can find her lurking on social media where she loves connecting with readers, educating America’s youth, being a mom taxi to two busy kids, in the tattoo chair trying desperately to get that back piece finished, or head banging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Connect with Ro:

Website: http://www.rlmerrillauthor.com

Twitter: @rlmerrillauthor

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rowritesrocknromance

And stay Tuned for more Rock ’n’ Romance.

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