Giveaway + Blog Tour: Spun! (The Shamwell Tales, #4) by JL Merrow

JL Merrow is here today talking CAMP to promote Spun!, her latest Shamwell Tale!

Be sure to enter to win a $20 Riptide credit below. Good Luck!

Hi, I’m JL Merrow, and I’m delighted to be here today as part of the blog tour to celebrate the release of Spun!, the fourth of my contemporary MM romantic comedies in the Shamwell Tales series.

The Man from CAMP**

To mangle a phrase: Some men are born camp; some achieve camp; and some have camp thrust upon them. (Whether or not they enjoy the last is presumably a matter of personal taste).

Camp is the sort of thing that’s hard to define, but easier to recognise. Think of Liberace, or Elton John. Remember the original 1960s Batman series starring the late, lamented Adam West, or the movie Hairspray?

Camp: ostentatious, exaggerated, affected, theatrical; effeminate or homosexual; pertaining to, characteristic of, homosexuals - The Oxford English Dictionary 

Camp is often seen as synonymous with gay, but that can be very misleading. Many gay men are about as far from camp as you can get, and one of the campest men I’ve ever met turned out to be married with thirteen children (the jury is out over whether he was over-compensating).

In Victorian times, to be camp was to be seen as less than masculine, which (it went without saying) was A Bad Thing: a threat to society’s rigid gender roles and by extension, to society itself. For example, in Oscar Wilde’s scandalous trial for homosexuality, much was made of his “effeminate” mannerisms, such as covering his mouth when he spoke (in fact he was simply embarrassed by the poor state of his teeth).

Conversely, however, in certain spheres camp became an acceptable face of homosexuality: gay entertainers, or actors playing gay characters, would (and some, reportedly, still do: Gok Wan, I’m looking at you) “camp it up” for predominantly straight audiences. Camp, safely contained on the stage or within a radio or television show, was something to be laughed at, rather than feared for its subversive nature. It’s no coincidence that the Oxford English Dictionary definition of the word includes the term “theatrical”.

Even among gay men, camp has an ambiguous status: celebrated by and in some, such as drag queens and other gay icons, the quality of camp is rejected by others who prefer the “straight-acting” gay man, with his more traditional presentation of masculinity. It is, if you like, the Marmite of the queer community. British comedian Alan Carr has said that he’s faced more homophobia from gay men than from straight people: as a camp gay man, he’s accused of perpetuating stereotypes of the effeminate gay. It’s a complex problem, at the root of which is the fact that we still live in a deeply patriarchal society.

Gay is easy. Being camp is difficult – Graham Norton, British comedian/TV host

Is David in Spun! camp? As he’d put it, does a hobby horse like spotted dick? David, with his constant flirting, his penchant for exaggeration and his habit of scattering French words into the conversation is completely, gloriously camp—even down to both first and last names.*

And he’s proud.

Readers, do you have a favourite camp celebrity/icon? Tell us about them!

*David, for Camp David, the country retreat of the US president, and Greenlake, for the facility in Louis Sachar’s Holes. But you knew that, anyway. ;)

**The title of this post is, of course, in homage to the books by pioneering gay pulp fictioneer Victor J Banis:

About Spun!

With friends like these . . .

An ill-advised encounter at the office party leaves David Greenlake jobless and homeless in one heady weekend. But he quickly begs work from his ex-boss and takes a room in Shamwell with easygoing postman Rory Deamer. David doesn’t mean to flirt with the recently divorced Rory—just like he doesn’t consciously decide to breathe. After all, Rory’s far too nice for him. And far too straight.

Rory finds his new lodger surprisingly fun to be with, and what’s more, David is a hit with Rory’s troubled children. But while Rory’s world may have turned upside down in the last few years, there’s one thing he’s sure of: he’s straight as a die. So he can’t be falling for David . . . can he?

Their friends and family think they know all the answers, and David’s office party hookup has his own plans for romance. Rory and David need to make up their minds and take a stand for what they really want—or their love could be over before it’s even begun.

Spun! is now available from Riptide Publishing.

About the Shamwell Tales

Welcome to Shamwell! A sleepy rural village in Hertfordshire, England, it’s the perfect place to move to for a little peace and quiet—or at least, you’d think so. But as a succession of newcomers to the village find, there’s more going on in these idyllic surroundings than cricket matches on the common and pints of ale in the local pubs.
As a place where everyone’s connected to everyone else, Shamwell’s rife with mishaps, mayhem, and misunderstandings—and the path of true love is no smoother than the ancient stone walls of the parish church.
Each contemporary romantic comedy in this series stands alone, but all feature a cast of characters drawn from Shamwell and its surroundings.
Check out the Shamwell Tales, available from Riptide Publishing!

About JL Merrow

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.

She writes (mostly) 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 several of her books have been EPIC Awards finalists, including Muscling Through, Relief Valve (the Plumber’s Mate Mysteries) and To Love a Traitor.

JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Connect with JL:
     Twitter: @jlmerrow

To celebrate the release of Spun!, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 8, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!


  1. My favorite camp celebrity or icon? The gifted Nathan Lane, who starred in The Birdcage and The Producers, is a prime example. I don't know if Robin Williams would be considered camp, but I miss his over-the-top manic characters.

    I'm adding Spun! to the top of my wish list. Congratulations on your new release, and I look forward to read it. j dot stonewright at gmail dot com

    1. And of course Nathan Lane was fabulous as Timon in The Lion King - great choice! :D
      Thanks for commenting, and I hope you'll enjoy Spun!

  2. Thank you for talking camp. I've heard the term a lot and had to look it up a few weeks ago just to see if I was correct in my assumptions of the term.
    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

    1. It's funny, isn't it, how sometimes you think you know what a word means but find out later it's not quite correct. I found out only this week that "dudgeon" means annoyed and not depressed. :)

  3. I do not have any favourite camp celebrity, although thinking of Liberace for example always makes me smile. One of my best friends is as camp as they can get (and gay as well), and when we go out we have a lot of fun together, but it is true he has to face some rejection... Which I do not understand, really. That's just the way he is. I guess some people just do not like his ostentatious and exuberant personality, but I love it!
    Congratulations on the release. I will recommend Spun! to my very camp friend... I know he'll like it

    1. Thanks, Susana - great to hear about your friend. Everyone should be true to themselves! :D

  4. Alan Cumming isn't always camp, but he does it well!

    vitajex@aol dot com

  5. My absolute favorite camp character is Mr Humphries, from "Are You Being Served?". Even his name is innuendo! Loved Spun! & David!

    1. I think he was the first camp character I ever saw on screen - it was either him or Kenneth Williams' Carry On characters! :)

  6. No I don't. Congratulations for book release


  7. Congrats and thanks for the camp post. This makes the book and series sound all the more fun, and I like the English countryside setting. I like some of the campers already mentioned, I'll add Paul Lind. - Purple Reader,
    TheWrote [at] aol [dot] com

    1. Ooh, I hadn't come across him before. And I'm glad you enjoyed the post! :D

  8. I learn something new by following this blog tour. Thank you for this interesting post, JL. I thought of David in a clearer view now. ;-)
    puspitorinid AT yahoo DOT com

  9. I can't believe I've never heard of this term before, but after reading about it, I know what it is now. Great post! I don't think I have just one favorite. I immediately think of Bette Midler and Cher. They're the epitome of camp.
    I don't feel comfortable leaving my email address publicly. Hopefully that won't hurt my chances of winning.

    1. Thanks - and yes, Bette and Cher are both great examples! :D