Guest Post: From Major to Minor by J.L. Merrow

Today I am very excited to welcome J.L. Merrow to Joyfully Jay.  J.L. is here to share more about her new book, Hard Tail, which I reviewed earlier today and just loved. I especially enjoyed revisiting two of my favorite of J.L.’s characters, Luke and Russell from Pricks and Pragmatism, so I am very excited that J.L. is sharing more about their role in the book here today.  Welcome J.L.! 

My new contemporary m/m novel Hard Tail features a cameo appearance from Luke and Russell, the lovers from Pricks and Pragmatism. I think it’s the first time I’ve done this—brought back major characters from one book to be minor characters in another—although I know some authors write whole series with this idea.

It was, to be honest, a bit of an eye-opener. Because Luke Corbin, the narrator of Pricks and Pragmatism, is my darling, blue-eyed boy—and I realised immediately that Tim, my narrator in Hard Tail, wasn’t going to like him.

How many mothers are happy when their kids don’t get on with each other?

But Luke is just the kind of guy to rub Tim up the wrong way (no innuendo intended!) He’s young, good-looking, confident in himself both professionally and as a gay man. Tim, by contrast, is a fish out of water both in the bike shop he’s managing for his brother—and in the world of dating men. Luke, frankly, intimidates him. The non-threatening Russell, on the other hand, Tim takes to immediately—which is a lot more than Luke did!

So why did I bring Luke and Russell into Tim’s story? Well, first and foremost, for plot reasons that, heh, I’m not going to go into—you wouldn’t want any spoilers, would you? But also, I think, for the same reason writers bring out Christmas specials featuring old characters. Because although I finished writing Luke and Russell’s story a long time ago, it doesn’t mean they’re not still living their happy ever after, in the back of my mind.

And sometimes, a writer just wants to share that happy ever after with her readers.


What do readers think about this? Should authors revisit old characters—or do you think that once a story’s ended, it’s finished?

All commenters will be entered into a draw for winner’s choice of an e-book from my backlist, PLUS a gift certificate for $25 from Amazon (or the e-book retailer of your choice). The more blog tour posts you comment on, the more chances you get! See my website here for full itinerary.

Book Blurb

Finding love can be a bumpy ride.

His job: downsized out of existence. His marriage: dead in the water. It doesn’t take a lot of arm twisting for Tim Knight to agree to get out of London and take over his injured brother’s mountain bike shop for a while. A few weeks in Southampton is a welcome break from the wreck his life has become, even though he feels like a fish out of water in this brave new world of outdoor sports and unfamiliar technical jargon.

The young man who falls—literally—through the door of the shop brings everything into sharp, unexpected focus. Tim barely accepts he’s even in the closet until his attraction to Matt Berridge pulls him close enough to touch the doorknob.

There’s only one problem with the loveable klutz: his bullying boyfriend. Tim is convinced Steve is the cause of the bruises that Matt blows off as part of his risky sport. But rising to the defense of the man he’s beginning to love means coming to terms with who he is—in public—in a battle not even his black belt prepared him to fight. Until now.

Product Warnings: Contains an out-and-proud klutz, a closeted, karate-loving accountant—and a cat who thinks it’s all about him. Watch for a cameo appearance from the Pricks and Pragmatism lovers. May inspire yearnings for fresh air, exercise, and a fit, tanned bike mechanic of your very own.

Hard Tail is available from Samhain Publishing at a reduced price for a limited time only. 


  1. Tracy Faul says:

    >I like it when books are interconnected like that, with previous (or future) main characters popping up in books that aren't All About Them. If the auhtor's done his or her job right, we're just as much in love with them as their creator is, and we want to get a chance to see them being happy some time down the line. :D

  2. JL Merrow says:

    >Excellent! That's what an author likes to hear. :)

    I wonder if you'd feel differently if I'd shown them as having difficulties or split up?

  3. jayhjay says:

    >Um, no you may NOT split up Luke and Russell! No sad stuff!

    I personally love seeing old friends again in new stories. Nice to see they are happy and doing well.

  4. sassycyclist says:

    >I like to check in with 'old friends' of previous books. Plenty of engaging supporting characters prompt me to look into backlist books if done right. But I don't like feeling as if I'm missing something if I haven't read the previous book, ya know? I sometimes hate it when an author makes reading all the books in a series mandatory (multi book arc's for example) because sometimes a particular book in a series does not appeal to me, but if you skip it, then the next book feels like you're missing out.

  5. jayhjay says:

    >Yes, I totally agree. It either needs to be an obviously linked series that carries over several books that must be read in order, or you need to be able to read and enjoy one book without reading the rest. I don't like the murky middle.

    FWIW, Hard Tail totally works without having read Pricks and Pragmatism, no problems. It just is fun to see the guys again.

  6. >I love to revisit old characters. Even if their story was over years ago, I still enjoy getting to see what's going on in their lives now. I guess it's my way of making sure they are still happy and in love. They may just be characters in a book, but sometimes it's hard to stop thinking about them when the story is over. I'm sure it's even harder for the author to do.

    Now I'm even more excited about reading Hard Tail. I loved Pricks and Pragmatism so thanks for letting us get to see Luke and Russell again.


  7. Anonymous says:

    >If I really enjoyed the book, I would enjoy revisiting the old characters, especially if there were issues/situations that could be further explored or expanded on. Also, secondary characters in a follow up book is enjoyable to me too.
    strive4bst at yahoo dot com

  8. Tracy Faul says:

    >I would like to think I'd be ok if they were split, but I think it would kind of lessen the impact of *their* book. I actually really like stories about established couples who are having difficulties and working their way back to being a solid couple again, though. In some ways, I think it's almost more hopeful than a "new love" type of story; perhaps because I've been with my husband for 12 years now, and we keep having to find our way back together through tough times. Reading about others (even fictional people) weathering crap and growing back together keeps me hanging on when my going gets tough.

  9. JL Merrow says:

    >I have very mixed feelings about authors messing with HEAs in a sequel. I think it comes down to the individual book – sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn't.

    Glad to hear you're able to take encouragement in your real life from fictional travails! :)

  10. JL Merrow says:

    >Glad to hear you enjoyed P&P! I think it's every author's goal, to write characters readers still think about after they've finished the book. And I think if they didn't "live" for the author, and have lives way beyond what's in the book, this would be much less likely to happen.

  11. JL Merrow says:

    >Yes, leaving a few loose ends is never a bad idea! My next novel, Pressure Head (due out in September) is one I definitely plan to write a sequel to, so I was conscious of not sewing things up too neatly at the end! ;)

  12. Joanna says:

    >I loved Luke and Russel and I'm happy to see more of them. Did Luke get his big break in journalism? Have they been to France yet? Does Russel still has a beard?…
    Ok, ok, I get Hard Tail is not a book about Luke and Russel, but I haven't properly meet Tim yet, so I can't say I love him (as much as the boys). Still, I probably will. I'm crossing fingers that you pick my name from a hat.


  13. Anonymous says:

    >I like that previous characters come for a 'visit' to a new book that isn't a serial. Its nice for us readers to know their history without it being restated, just like friends visiting. Not read either book, hard tail is on my to buy list but am putting pricks and pragmatism on too now!

  14. >I like it when authors bring back characters from other books, especially if I really like them. As long as the current story doesn't require the background of the previous book characters I don't mind it at all.


  15. jayhjay says:

    >Definitely read Pricks and Pragmatism. Man slut and dorky virgin – be still my heart!

  16. magistra17sum says:

    >I can go either way. It depends on how it's done. If the characters appear in a way that feels forced or makes the main story feel like a spin-off instead of like its own legitimate story worth telling, it's no good. But when the characters just make a random appearance, let us know what they're up to in a plot-related, unobtrusive way (as Luke and Russell did in Hard Tail), I like it. I had a moment of "Oh yay!" when they walked in, though I shared your "hmm, Tim's not going to like Luke, is he?" feeling of dismay. But I imagined them getting along better with time as Tim gets his feet back under him and with Russell as his completely loveable self to buffer.

  17. diannakay says:

    >I like to revisit characters, but mainly in a series rather than as a smaller appearance in another story!


  18. >I love when I get an update on how my favorite characters are doing. This can happen in a series or in loosely related books. I have especially enjoyed holiday books with updates on several couples. It is like having a family reunion with people you actually like.

  19. Juliana says:

    >I love reading books that have previously introduced characters. It is easier to connect to a story when you have already met and fallen in love with the characters in another book. Be it a sequel with the same MCs or a minor character getting his own story, I love it. Going into the book already knowing some backstory really helps.

  20. JL Merrow says:

    >Oh, yes, you totally get them, don't you? *happy authorly sigh*
    Yes, they'll get to like each other, once Tim's not feeling so insecure and Luke's protective hackles aren't raised.

    But Tim'll always like Russell best! ;)

  21. JL Merrow says:

    >*It is like having a family reunion with people you actually like.*
    LOL! Yes, just like that!

    I know some people prefer a meaty story, rather than a slice of the HEA, but if I've really loved a couple of characters, I enjoy just seeing their faces again.

  22. JL Merrow says:

    >I know what you mean. Especially when I'm tired (which is when I do most of my reading, as if I wasn't too tired, I'd be writing) I sometimes find it really hard to get to know a new set of characters and their world. It's easier with old friends. :)

  23. JL Merrow says:

    >Mmm, you prefer to have a proper story to get your teeth into? I can understand that.

    I think the problem comes when the author has to think of more and more ways to get some conflict back into the relationship – there's a danger of turning the story into a soap opera! I think it's a lot harder to do it well in contemporary romance than, say, mysteries.

  24. >I love to see old characters pop up in new books. I'm a huge fan of series and sequels.

  25. JL Merrow says:

    >I think in a way it's easier for the author if the recurring characters are only playing a minor role – all the reader needs to know is the stage they're at now, not how they got there, which removes the need for providing a precis of the previous novel!

  26. JL Merrow says:

    >I'm hoping you'll love Tim just as much! And Matt, of course – he's such a sweetie. :)

    And the answers to your questions are:
    1. yes, kind of: he's steadily climbing that ladder
    2. mais bien sur!
    3. Oh, yes. Luke may buy Russell the odd smarter item of clothing as a present, but he loves him just the way he is – beard and all.

    So glad you enjoyed P&P! :)

  27. JL Merrow says:

    >Hope you'll enjoy them both! I love the analogy of friends visiting – because that's just how it feels to me as the author. :)

  28. JL Merrow says:

    >Music to an author's ears! :)

  29. Anonymous says:

    >I like seeing favorite old characters pop up in a new book–it's like a good surprise cameo in a movie.


  30. Loveless3173 says:

    >Ooh!! I am so excited and anxious to get Hard Tail!

    I for one, LOVE it when author's revisit old Charas. I mean, Just because a book is over doesn't necessarily mean they stop "speaking" to the author right? I just love to see even if just briefly that they indeed did have a HEA after everything they might have gone through in their main book. I wish author's would do it more often.

    Thank you so much for the contest! =D


  31. Stevie Carroll says:

    >I think it depends on the characters and the story. Sometimes I want to see more, but others I'm happy to imagine what they do next.

  32. JL Merrow says:

    >Mmm, yes – part of me wanted to keep their appearance a surprise, but in the end I couldn't resist telling people! :)

  33. JL Merrow says:

    >Absolutely! I like to think of all my characters living on in my head, although to be honest it's getting a tad crowded in there! ;)

  34. JL Merrow says:

    >Interesting. I guess there's a couple of ways of looking at it, and it depends on the reader as much as the characters.
    For instance, if a book ends on a HFN, I guess some readers would like to see how it progresses to a HEA – whereas some might prefer to just trust that it will or not examine the issue at all.
    Or if a book ends with a HEA, some readers will like to see a bit more of that, whereas some might not see much point in it.

  35. >I always enjoy when authors revisit characters, ecspecially if they are a couple I love, of if they only received a HFN in their story, I have already purchased Hard Tail and am about 40% done, it's great, I can not wait for Luke and Russell, since I also really liked Pricks and Pragmatism.

  36. ebbster says:

    >I think that it should only be done in moderation and when the author has an actual idea for the character. I'm am VERY tired of books and movies and tv shows that bring back old characters because they were popular and will get the most readers/watchers. It doesn't do justice to them. Sometimes it works out alright, but I'd rather the author write more about them if and only if they are inspired to do so.

  37. JL Merrow says:

    >Glad you're enjoying it! :D
    Yes, it's great to revisit old friends, isn't it?

  38. JL Merrow says:

    >Yes, I can see how it might seem a cynical exercise on the part of the writers. Hopefully it doesn't come across like that in Hard Tail! :)

  39. Bookwyrm369 says:

    >I love when favorite characters make an appearance in a later book :-) It's fun get a bit of familiar action amongst the new story.

    smaccall AT

  40. >I enjoy appearances of favorite characters in subsequent books. It makes me feel as though they're part of a story that will continue, and I suppose that creates a sense of more depth in the author's imagined world. It doesn't particularly matter to me if its an actual series, or just a "shared world." It's like spotting a friend somewhere you might not expect them, and finding that to be a happy surprise.

    By the way, I just finished Hard Tail. Loved it.

  41. Anonymous says:

    >I think it depends on the popularity of the first book.
    I would love to catch up with Luke, as I found him an amazing voice in Pricks & Pragmatism, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
    It's similar to writing a series, I suppose, or a trilogy or whatever you want to call it, except you probably didn't start out to do any such thing.
    So yes, it's a good thing to do provided the initial impact of the characters warrants it.
    I'd love to win Hard Tail, so here's an entry:

    corieltauviqueen@ yahoo dot co dot uk

  42. JL Merrow says:

    >So glad you enjoyed Hard Tail! :D

    And what a lovely way of putting it. Yes, like spotting a friend. :)

  43. JL Merrow says:

    >It's certainly fun for the author – glad to hear it's fun for you too! :)

  44. JL Merrow says:

    >Yes, I think you're right that the characters have to be strong enough to take it. If they weren't vivid and memorable in the first place, why would anyone get excited about seeing them again?

    Thanks for commenting! :)

  45. PaParanormalFan says:

    >Hello J. L. & Jay,

    I don't consider them old characters because I usually re-read my books, they are always fresh to me. :)
    I Love when Authors revisit their strong, influential characters in their subsequent Books. That's that main reason I re-read a Book…the characters have made such an impact on me emotionally, if there isn't a Sequel, they only way I can get my "character fix" lol is to read the Book again. :)

    I just Loved Luke and Russell's Story in "Pricks and Pragmatism". Knowing that your new Contemporary M/M Novel, "Hard Tail" features a cameo appearance from Luke and Russell in Tim’s story?….I just HAVE to get this Book!!!!!

    Question for you J. L., since this was the first time you've done this 'brought back' major characters from one book to be minor characters in another….did you like the result enough to possibly try bringing other characters back into another future Book release?

    I would very much appreciate the opportunity to be considered in your very generous giveaway of an e-book from your backlist, PLUS a gift certificate for $25 from Amazon (or the e-book retailer of our choice). That is soooo very nice of you! Thank You!

    Take care & Have a Great Weekend,
    PaParanormalFan (Renee’ S.)
    paranormalromancefan at yahoo dot com

    All commenters will be entered into a draw for winner’s choice of

  46. JL Merrow says:

    >Ohhhh, interesting question! Yes, I think I would definitely do it again – but only if it fit with the story. For instance, I'm toying with the idea of bringing back Baz from Wight Mischief for his own story, and as he's a journalist it's quite conceivable he might run into – or even end up working alongside – Luke. The trouble is, Baz is a bit of a Marmite character, and some readers absolutely hated him! He'd have to do a lot of growing up in the course of the story.

    Another couple of characters I'd like to do more with are DI Phillips from Camwolf, who Nick thought was homophobic but who turned out to be merely deeply suspicious about werewolves, and Matthew Innes, the ex Nick treated rather badly.

    My next novel, Pressure Head (due out in September) has built-in sequel potential, being a mystery, which I'm very glad about as there are a whole host of secondary characters I'd hate not to get the chance to play with again! :)

    Glad you enjoyed Luke and Russell's story – and thanks for commenting! :D

  47. Kit Johnson says:

    >Sounds like you had a lot of fun with this book. Count me in, please :)

  48. JL Merrow says:

    >I certainly did! Thanks for stopping by. :)

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