What Makes Me…A New Blog Series

Greetings Rock 'n' Rollers! It's been a while, and I've missed you. My blog has always been a place I could share the things I love with you reader-types and to introduce y'all to my authory pals! So ta da! Welcome to What Makes Me: Authors Share Their Influences. It'll be a collection of posts about what experiences and art inspired their writing or maybe even a current project! I hope you'll join me. You just might find out something about an author you find fascinating, and you might find some new folks to admire.

I thought I'd kick things off with three of the things that made me. November 13 is my 8 year publishversary and I'm really honored to still be here writing to you, writing books for you, and fangirling along with you over some of the best writers out there! That's right! I published Haunted back in 2014. A lot has changed since then. I've published more than forty novels, novellas, and short stories since then and I am so looking forward to many more. You might have heard me talk about some of these, and you might be new to my world of rock 'n' romance, shivery and swoony stories, etc. and so on. Either way, welcome to my nightmare!

  1. The Muppet Show: Yes, I fell for Alice Cooper when he sang "Welcome To My Nightmare" on the show, and that song is my anthem, but the combination of the innocent and cute Muppets with one of the original bad boys of rock 'n' roll is like my total intersection. I'm a big goofball with pink hair who was a cheerleader and who loves Spongebob BUT my life has always been a little…macabre. Whether it was watching Creature Features with my stepdad, screaming with my sister watching The Trilogy of Terror, or re-enacting episodes of The Twilight Zone with my cousins, I've always been drawn to the dark side. I fell in love with Vincent Price on The Muppet Show also and enjoyed countless hours watching The Fall of the House of Usher and listening to the spoken word portion of "Thriller." I love old creepy houses and haunted hotels, and I trace it all back to The Muppet Show.

2. Dance, Dance, Dance My mom needed something to keep my hyperactive butt busy, so at the tender age of 3 1/2, I donned a leotard and tights and learned to boogie. Dance was my life right up until I left for college, and I revisited it for a bit in my 20s. Tap, Jazz, Hula, you name it. I never missed Solid Gold, American Bandstand, and Soul Train. I watched every movie with dancing in it that I could get my hands on. I loved all kinds of dance, all the eras and cultures. I joined the "songgirl" team so I could dance at school. I was a cheerleader when that was the only option. I coached cheerleading and taught dance when I first started teaching. I dipped my toe into musical theater performing in Kiss Me Kate, and did some choreography for that show as well as for a high school production of Crazy For You. My last experience was choreographing for show choir at the middle school, and man do I miss being involved. Now, I write about it. I will stop what I'm doing and watch ballet/ballroom/breakdancing on my Instagram feed. I used to teach myself dances from the movies I loved (cough Flashdance cough). My body does not agree with that type of movement anymore, so I'm relegated to watching. I dream dances. I still have flashes of choreography while taking a shower (yes, it's dangerous, I don't recommend it). Did either of my kids like dancing? No. Here's my heroine, Cynthia Rhodes.

3. Anne Rice. Earlier this year I stood in front of a cabinet full of signed copies of Anne's books at The Garden District Bookshop. My husband had told me to choose any of them. He's awesome like that. I can't read print books anymore (my eyes hate me) but I felt the words calling to me from behind the glass. To have a piece of literary history (I said it) that had been in her hands for even a few seconds was something I just needed to have. I do have a signed copy of The Witching Hour that my mom stood in line for in Berkeley back in 1991, and it turned out to be my very favorite book of all time. But I first read Anne in 1987. Interview With A Vampire. I was a little late, and the copy I checked out from the library was well worn and smelled like my future. I read it as fast as I could and then read it again. I wrote about it for an English research paper. Finally, someone made the monsters I'd always loved the heroes. Someone understood me. I wanted to run away from home and join The Talamasca (still do, you know, if they're taking applications, I'm ready).

Like many of you, I've been in agony waiting for AMC to bring her works back to the screen (yeah, the previous movies were okay, but didn't love them like I love the books), and the new Interview has sucked me in and given me new love for her world. We watched the show, I started listening to the books on audio, and I rewatched the Brad Pitt movie where he kissed Antonio Banderas (Tom Cruise so did not do it for me). Oh, bless the gods for Jacob Anderson and Sam Reid. And sign me up for The Mayfairs next year.

When I first started reading her, I never in a million years thought that at 37 years old I would put finger to keyboard and start writing fiction. Excuse me? I'm a damn historian. I don't write flowery…oh, but I do love love. I love hope. And I became drunk with power, writing stories where I was in charge. I decided what happened. I controlled the ending. As a parent of young kids and a teacher, dude, I had no control over any aspect of my life. But writing? Oh yeah. Give it to me, baby. I'll never be an Anne Rice, or hell, I'll never be a Stephen King. But I'm an R.L. Merrill and I write stories to make you shiver and swoon. Contemporary and Paranormal and Horror. That's me. And I've even written my own vampires. I've written silly, sexy, sweet blood suckers in The Miscreants Trilogy (Magic and Mayhem Universe), and I've written a different sort of vampire, one who uses science to explain who he is, uses history to figure out where he came from and where he's going…and for how long. Sundowners is a world I had to write, one I wasn't supposed to be writing, and one I can't stay away from. Book two is in the works, and I'm already having to fan myself as I write. But I digress.

Thanks for joining me on this little trip. I hope you'll read on over the next couple of months as I invite some of my authory pals and chase down authors I'm dying to get to know a little better. Have a request? Hit me up. Have thoughts on Interview? Bring it. Want to geek out over The Muppets or Flashdance? I'm your girl. We can chat online or you can join my reader group over on Facebook where I love to give stuff away, share early peeks into my writing, and have all the hijinks!

And as always, Stay Tuned for More…


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