We are delighted to welcome the lovely JL Merrow to Sinfully today as she celebrates the release of Blow Down, book #4 in the Plumber’s Mate series.
Jingle My Bells
by JL Merrow
Hi, I’m JL Merrow. I’m delighted to be here as part of the Blow Down blog tour, and today I’d like to talk to you about Morris dancing.
There’s something quintessentially English about Morris dancers, heralds of what passes on this sceptered isle for a summer. And who wouldn’t warm to the sight of a troop of dancers clad in white, ribbons flying as they leap around in the (rare) sunshine, waving their (non-coded) hankies and cracking their staves together to the accompaniment of bells a-jingle?
Well, actually, quite a few of us, apparently. Morris dancing has a rather unfair reputation for being deeply uncool. Perhaps it’s because of the outfits, and because it’s often seen as the preserve of white, middle-aged men with beards as big as their beer guts. Too, the tradition of “blacking up” in some sides is problematic to modern eyes, although it was originally done to disguise identity (from unsympathetic authorities, not out of embarrassment) rather than to impersonate or mock people of another race.
One person who’s helped to increase the cool factor of Morris dancing is the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett:
The Morris dance is common to all inhabited worlds in the multiverse. It is danced under blue skies to celebrate the quickening of the soil and under bare stars because it's springtime and with any luck the carbon dioxide will unfreeze again. The imperative is felt by deep-sea beings who have never seen the sun and urban humans whose only connection with the cycles of nature is that their Volvo once ran over a sheep.
It is danced innocently by raggedy-bearded young mathematicians to an inexpert accordion rendering of "Mrs Widgery's Lodger" and ruthlessly by such as the Ninja Morris Men of New Ankh, who can do strange and terrible things with a simple handkerchief and a bell.
- Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett
Pratchett’s entirely made-up Morris tradition, the Dark Morris, is now actually danced by some genuine Morris sides—it’s folk dance meets sci fi/fantasy cosplay, and the stuff you get to wear is way cooler:
The dancers trade their bright white beribboned costumes for black shrouds and perform in darkness and silence without bells, sticks or swords (or better, with bells of octiron that create a lacy counter-tinkle of silences}. This is the Dark Morris, without which winter may not arrive
– Wintersmith, Terry Pratchett
The murder, in Blow Down, takes place at the St Leonard’s Harvest Fayre, so of course I had to have Morris dancing in there. And yes, a regular cast member is involved. Who? Well, you’ll have to read the book. :)
I’ll leave the last word to Tom:
“It’s a very manly pursuit, Morris dancing. Some of ’em have really big sticks.” –
Tom Paretski, Blow Down
Question: Readers, what do you think of Morris dancing: delightful rural tradition, or just plain dodgy? Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!
The Plumber’s Mate #4
Published ~ 12th July 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Death is what happens while you’re making other plans.
The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries, Book 4
The last thing newly engaged plumber Tom Paretski needs is to stumble over another dead body. He’s got enough on his mind already as the reality of his impending marriage sinks in. Not only is his family situation complicated, his heroism at a pub fire made him a local celebrity. Now everyone and their uncle wants a piece of his psychic talents.
Hired to find a missing necklace, Tom and his fiancé, private investigator Phil Morrison, wind up trying to unmask a killer—and there’s no shortage of suspects, up to and including the local bishop himself.
As Tom and Phil try to uncover the truth, they find themselves pulled in all directions by the conflicting pressures of their families and their own desires. But the murderer they’re up against is a ruthless schemer who won’t hesitate to kill again. If Tom and Phil aren’t careful, their love—and all their plans for the future—could be blown down like a house of straw.
Warning: Contains a bishop of questionable Christian charity, a necklace of questionable taste, and a plumber of questionable nationality who may be running out of time.
Series Reading Order
Meet JL Merrow
JL Merrow is a very English writer of (mainly) m/m fiction who finds writing the only way to stay sane, except of course when a plot is driving her crazy. Having grown up on an island, she can’t remember a time before she could swim and prefers to remain close to water at all times. Luckily, the weather in her native land being as it generally is, this is not difficult.
I’m that rare beast; an English person who refuses to drink tea. I’m a writer of (mainly) m/m or f/f romance, mostly contemporary or paranormal, but with a fickle muse that occasionally ambushes me in dark alleyways and drags me off, cackling, to write historical or science fiction.
Some might call all this pillar-to-posting tragic evidence of a short attention span; I couldn’t possibly….er, what were we talking about, again?
I enjoy reading, martial arts, and surprising people who judge a book by its cover.
She is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.
Prizes! I’m offering a prize of a signed paperback copy of winner’s choice from the first three Plumber’s Mate Mysteries, plus a $10 gift certificate. I’m happy to ship worldwide, and I’ll throw in some small goodies as well. :)