R.L. Merrill on Writing Characters, Romance and the new release ‘Typhoon Toby (Forces of Nature Book 2) (author guest blog)


Typhoon Toby (Forces of Nature Book 2) by R.L. Merrill

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Kanaxa

Publication: January 22nd 2019

Buy Links:
Dreamspinner Press https://goo.gl/58pSJS

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words wants to welcome R.L. Merrill here today on tour for Typhoon Toby. Welcome, R.L., into our author’s interview chair.


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



Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?


I never set out to be a writer, and I didn’t read much romance growing up. I read Stephen King and Anne Rice and I figured if I ever wrote stories, I’d want to scare the hell out of people. IO didn’t read for a long time because of college, being a brand new teacher trying to figure out what I was doing, then grad school. I read while I was pregnant with my daughter, a whole bunch of thrillers and mysteries, and then didn’t read a book again until I got sick in 2009. This time I started with paranormal romances. Sherrilyn Kenyon and Charlaine Harris were both authors I loved for their unique characters and great dialogue as well as flawed heroes who deserved redemption. My first self-published romance ended up being a contemporary so I have no idea where that came from, haha. I never really read much. I loved Colleen Hoover’s early books and I wanted to make people feel like she does. Her career is probably the one I’d love to have, although I don’t think our books are similar. I have yet to find anyone I read and think A HA! My readers tell me my characters and zany situations remind them of Kristan Higgins. I’ll take that. She’s pretty amazing as well.


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


As someone with diminishing vision, the ebook has been a lifesaver. I can’t read print books anymore. Between the dark spots in my vision and the fact that my progressive bifocals are tricky to read with, I’m struggling on a daily basis to do my job and sometimes to write. My docs are usually somewhere between 150-200% and I read on my phone or my paperwhite with the font enlarged. I’ll keep on keepin’ on as long as I can,


If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?


Contemporary romance is tricky. I’ve given up trying to write the kinds of heroes people want to read and focus on who I’d like to know and hang out with. In that sense, a lot of times my characters are based on real people, my own heroes, or celebrities that I respect. There are things that would make me personally not want to be with a person so I avoid those traits in my writing, but then other readers love those types of characters, so I just have to hope there are enough like-minded readers out there looking for flawed-but-redeemable characters.


What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?


Lately I’ve been looking at the quirky ways people deal with stress and failure in my characters. I’m also fascinated by characters that survive in that gray area. My absolute favorite TV show ever is Justified. Talk about a whole bunch of flawed characters that wallow in the gray! There’s a delicate balance, though, between how much is too much. This goes back to my last answer. Where’s that line that readers won’t blur with you?


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’m not a drinker, but if it were possible for me to write amped up on too much caffeine and write something ridiculous, I’ll do it. My drunken exploits go back twenty years and involve drunk shopping haha. My husband loves to remind me of the awful red and orange dress I bought in Hawaii on our honeymoon that had to go back the next day.


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

The best possible place for me to write is an old building. I’ve written some of my favorite stories at the Holbrooke Hotel in Grass Valley which dates to the late 1800s, the Weller House in Fort Bragg, California… My friend’s house in Portland, Oregon which was built in the early 1900s and is all dark wood gorgeousness in the woods. I’ve had great writing sessions in the Jupiter, a beer pub in Berkeley as well. I’d love to find someplace old that’s closer to me that I could visit on a more regular basis.


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


I write to give hope. I write to recognize the struggles people I respect go through. I write to save my sanity.


What’s next for you as a writer?


This year is going to see a lot of different projects. After Typhoon Toby, I’ll revisit my boys Orrie and Dalton from Worst Holiday Ever and give them a Valentine’s Day Surprise. Then it’s on to a f/f story for a #loveislove anthology in June and hopefully a paranormal. Later in the summer, a new project from Dreamspinner will be out titled Summer of Hush. I’ve got lots of writing to do, including more stories in the Forces of Nature series and Summer of Hush, as well as some indie projects.

More about Typhoon Toby

Forces of Nature: Book Two

On the surface, Toby Griffiths appears to have it all—talent, money, a brilliant mind, and model good looks. With his best friend, Reese, he’s built an empire as a singer/songwriter.

But beneath that glittering exterior, Toby suffers the lasting effects of abuse. To keep his tempestuous past where it belongs, he insists on anonymity with lovers—no names, no personal information. But a vacation fling in Bali changes all that, and he can’t get his recent playmate out of his mind.

Therapist Spencer Hart left Bali with a bad case of pneumonia and a broken heart. Although he’s recovering, he’s shocked to find his secretive partner on TV, and he’s determined to see him again. Spencer arranges to attend one of Toby’s fundraising galas, and their reunion is tense.

Toby tries to stick to his rules… until a New Year’s kiss with Spencer washes away the last of his resistance. But Toby is a man with secrets, and when the storm comes ashore, it could devastate not just his professional life but his fledgling love affair and his longtime partnership with his best friend.

Will Spencer stand by his side and help him weather the storm as Toby faces his worst fears?

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 from Dreamspinner Press later, with more tucked away in her evil lair, R.L. Merrill is still striving to find that perfect balance between real-life and happily ever after. You can find her lurking on social media where she loves connecting with readers, being a mom-taxi to two brilliant and busy kids, in the tattoo chair trying desperately to get that back piece finished, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.



Contact the author





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