R.L. Merrill brings you stories of Hope, Love, and Rock ‘n’ Roll featuring quirky and relatable characters. Whether she’s writing contemporary, paranormal, or supernatural, she loves to give readers a shiver with compelling stories that will stay with you long after. You can find her connecting with readers on social media, educating America’s youth, raising two brilliant teenagers, writing horror-infused music reviews for HorrorAddicts.net, trying desperately to get that back piece finished in the tattoo chair, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.
Her story, “The House Must Fall,” appears in Haunts and Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology.
NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?
RLM: The moment I learned a woman named Mary Shelley created Frankenstein’s Monster. Or when I watched Vincent Price in the House of Usher. Or when I read a YA mystery (still trying to find this book as I forgot the title) about a young woman determined to learn the dark secrets about the Bronte sisters on the misty moors. Edgar Allan Poe is my literary hero, vampires are real, and someday I will live in a house with a secret passage.
NTK: How do you define “romance”?
RLM: Romance has two distinct meanings for me. I write romance novels, which are about the journey between lovers and must have a Happily Ever After (HEA) or a Happily For Now (HFN) ending. But romance, generally, is about channeling wants and desires and yearning for another. Romance is how we express our love of another, and there are many flavors of romance. I love it all, from the sticky sweet to the creepy dark. It’s what makes the world go round, am I right?
NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?
RLM: I’d have to say Frankenstein, followed closely by Dracula, but I’m also a huge fan of Poe’s stories such as “Ligeia” and “House of Usher,” not to mention “The Raven,” which is my favorite.
NTK: Do you have a favorite Gothic horror movie? What attracted you to this film?
RLM: The Legacy, 1978. It stars Katherine Ross and Sam Elliot as Americans drawn into the bloody family history of a mysterious man in England. It’s gorgeous—of course I’m talking about the house and the cinematography and not the young real-life couple and Sam Elliot shirtless—and it’s creepy and it will suck you in until the end.
NTK: Are your characters based on real people?
RLM: Not the human characters, but I modeled Mercer Manor on the real-life Millbrae Mansion, which sadly burned down in the mid-1900s. It was an incredible home, elaborate and mysterious in 1800s California history. Someday, I will at least go to visit the site where it was located. I also did research on the founding of the University of California, Berkeley, and I can’t wait to go back and walk the paths that Montgomery and Sterling would have passed as some of the first students of the new school.
NTK: Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?
RLM: I’m a plotser. I tend to write a synopsis now, but much of the story is organic and comes to me as I write.
NTK: Do your characters have free will? Or do you decide their fate?
RLM: It’s interesting you ask this, because I’d say fate plays a huge role in both my contemporary and paranormal romances as well as my horror tales. I’ll let readers be the judge.
NTK: What are you most afraid of?
RLM: Kids. My own children in peril, but also elementary-aged kids.
I also have this recurring nightmare. I’m in a dark club and I’m watching a comedian, and for some reason he targets me. And then he’s coming down off the stage and he’s saying horrible, awful things about me, to me, and he keeps getting closer and closer, and the rest of the crowd joins in laughing at me until they’re all crowded around me, sucking all of the oxygen out of the room, and they’re pressing in on me and laughing while I scream and tuck into a ball and then they’ve devoured me.
NTK: What is your favorite romance?
RLM: The Witching Hour by Anne Rice, which I’d describe as a gothic romance. Rowan and Michael have a love for the ages. Also, in contemporary, Then the Stars Fall by Brandon Witt is incredibly beautiful. I’d also have to include the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. I recently watched the show and remembered how much I loved their romance.
NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?
RLM: I cut my teeth on Stephen King and then discovered Anne Rice. Their stories changed my life and when I decided to start writing, I kept their stories and the feelings I got from them in the back of my mind and I tell myself someday I want to write books that leave readers with similar feelings.
NTK: What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?
RLM: June will bring a contemporary LGBTQ romance as part of the Love Is All charity anthology. August will see the release of my M/F contemporary romance, More Than a Spanish Tour, which is based on my 2018 trip to Spain. In September, I will release the follow-up to last year’s supernatural suspense Healer, called Connection. Horror Addicts just might dig this series because while there’s romance, there’s also a boarding school full of child victims of trauma who have been gifted with unimaginable powers and an evil megalomaniac hell-bent on revenge. I’ve got a revenge tale as part of the Wicked Intentions anthology in October as well as a new funny paranormal romance tale in the Magic and Mayhem Universe. So yeah, the rest of this year will be super busy, but I can’t wait to get these stories into the hands of readers!