For the UK Meet in Bristol, September 11-13, 2015, today author is J. L. Merrow. Moreover I'm hosting the Blog Tour for Played!:
Played! (The Shamwell Tales) by JL Merrow
Paperback: 218 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing (June 30, 2015)
Amazon: Played! (The Shamwell Tales)
Amazon Kindle: Played! (The Shamwell Tales)
All the world’s a stage…but real-life lessons are hidden in the heart
Though Tristan must join his family’s New York firm at summer’s end—no more farting around on stage, as his father so bluntly puts it—he can’t resist when Shamwell’s local amateur dramatics society begs him to take a role in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The bonus: giving private acting lessons to a local handyman who’s been curiously resistant to Tristan’s advances. Not only is Con delicious, there’s fifty pounds riding on Tristan getting him in his bed.
A late-diagnosed dyslexic, Con’s never dared to act, convinced he’d never be able to learn his lines. But with Tristan’s help, he takes the chance. Trouble is, the last time Con fell for a guy, he ended up getting his heart broken. And with Tristan due to leave the country soon, Con is determined not to start anything that’s bound to finish badly.
Just as Tristan thinks he’s finally won Con’s heart—and given his own in return—disaster strikes. And the curtain may have fallen forever on their chance for happiness.
Warning: contains a surfeit of Bottoms and asses, together with enough mangled quotations to have the Bard of Avon gyrating in his grave.
Monday morning, Tristan was feeling a lot more sanguine. For a start, he’d just poked his head out of his bedroom window and seen Con ambling down the street. Beaming, Tristan checked his clothes—present, good—and scurried downstairs to fling wide the door.
“All right?” Con said, his voice equally cheerful.
This boded well. This boded very well. And at ten o’clock in the morning, if called upon for some extracurricular activities, Con could hardly plead the lateness of the hour.
“Come in, come in,” Tristan urged him genially. “Tea? Coffee? Pound of flesh?”
“Nah, I’m good, thanks. We can just get straight down to it, if you like.”
Tristan reminded his libido sternly that it, in Con’s mind at least, undoubtedly referred to rehearsing. “Oh, no hurry,” he purred. “I thought we could have a little chat first.”
“About… Well.” Damn it. Tristan cudgelled his brain, out of which all thought had fled like a classically educated young lady pursued by a centaur. “Did I ever tell you how I got into acting?” he asked with sudden inspiration.
“Well. It was quite by chance, as a matter of fact. I was approached—much as has happened here, in fact—to take over a role at the last minute when the actor playing it was sent down.”
“Sent down where?”
“God, I don’t know. Ah—I see what you’re getting at. No, this was in my Cambridge days. Getting sent down meant expulsion. He was a chemistry student, and, shall we say, a little too interested in the commercial opportunities presented by his subject. Anyway, he was supposed to be playing Malvolio in Twelfth Night, which happened to be a play I’d studied—and, well, to cut a long story short, I was asked to do it instead. I believe alcohol may have been involved.”
“Let me guess—instant success?”
“Unmitigated disaster. It was an open-air production, in the Master’s Garden at Clare. And nobody had thought anything of the fact that Trinity had their May Ball the same night. Except that the music from the band entirely drowned out the dialogue for the whole of the first half.” Tristan paused for effect. “And then in the second half, the fireworks started. Oh, the audience applauded politely enough at the end, but it was quite plain none of them had had the first idea what had been going on.” He grinned.
Con smiled back.
A curious fluttering sensation arose in Tristan’s breast. “Are you familiar with the play?” he asked quickly.
“Nah—but Malvolio’s the hero, yeah?”
“God, no. A thousand times no. He’s a steward with delusions of grandeur who is duped and humiliated in the course of the play.”
Con frowned, but a half smile still played upon his lips. “And…that’s what made you want to be an actor?”
“But of course! He’s…” Tristan stalled, neither words nor gestures sufficient to explain, in a few words, the joy of playing a character who excites both ridicule and sympathy. “We’ll find a reputable production, and I’ll take you to see it,” he decided. “We’re only twenty-five miles from London; there must be one that’s easily accessible this summer.”
“Yeah? That’d be… Yeah. We should do that.”
Con’s face was aglow as he leaned unconsciously towards Tristan. Now was the time. The iron was hot; the sun, shining. Tristan opened his mouth to say the words that would make Con his.
“So, rehearsal,” he was appalled to find himself saying. “I thought we’d go back to the scenes with Titania. How’s your singing?”
Con looked supremely uncomfortable. “Dunno. Never really done any.”
“Excellent. Just remember, this is supposed to sound bad.” Tristan took a moment to berate himself for his epic failure of nerve, then another to breathe in the character of Nick Bottom. A puffed-up idiot who utterly failed to live up to his own expectations.
No, that wouldn’t be too far a stretch of his abilities right now. Tristan began singing in a nasal monotone, clapping his hands to the beat.
“The ousel cock so black of hue,
With orange-tawny bill,
The throstle with his note so true,
The wren with little quill,”
He broke off for a moment, a thought striking. “You could go for the laughs with cock and little quill, but remember you’ll be in full ass’s regalia then, so any subtle expressions are likely to be lost.” Tristan frowned. He never had had that conversation with Heather over Bottom’s costume. “Do we know yet what you’re going to have in the way of headgear? We should find out sooner rather than later.”
“Yeah. It’s just gonna be this sort of hood thing—Hev reckoned it’d be funnier. And, well, cheaper, than a full ass’s head.”
Tristan nodded. “No, that’s good—we could work with either, but it does make a difference. How about a tail?”
Con blinked. “Dunno. Is that in the play? I thought it was just his head that got changed.”
“Oh, you mustn’t underestimate the efficacy of a tail. One can do all sorts of things with a tail.” Remembering his goal, Tristan smiled flirtatiously and added a little of a leer for good measure.
Con, predictably, flushed.
“Ah, well. Onwards and tupwards, as the saying goes.” Con was frowning, but Tristan ignored it. “You, dear boy, are about to be seduced by a fairy. Are you ready?”
“I’ll be the fairy. Come, sit thee down upon this flowery bed.” Tristan patted the sofa impatiently until Con sat, perching upon the edge like a very large, very nervous bird preparing to take flight. Beaming, Tristan continued with both words and actions. “While I thy amiable cheeks do coy, and stick musk-roses in thy sleek smooth head, and kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy.”
Con swallowed audibly. “Uh, that was my real ear you just kissed.”
About the Author: 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.
Find JL Merrow online at: www.jlmerrow.com, on Twitter as @jlmerrow, and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jl.merrow
Prizes! I’m offering a prize of an ebook of the winner’s choice from my backlist to one lucky commenter at EVERY stop on the tour, plus a grand prize of a signed copy of Caught!, the first Shamwell Tale, which comes out in paperback on 4th August. I’m happy to ship worldwide, and I’ll throw in some small goodies as well.
Please remember to leave an email addy in your comment so I can get in touch with you if you win.
I’ll be making the draws around teatime on Friday 10th July, GMT.
Good luck! :D
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