Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fun Facts with JL Merrow

JL Merrow is my visitor today. She's not going to share ten fun facts about herself, but about my country: Iceland ^.^ While I was "icepicking" her Fall Hard manuscript, I was blown away by her understanding of Icelandic people and the details to the land and buildings (and that first sex scene? Crazy HOT with those two Icelandic dirty words!).  

Warning: some may be more factual than others! ;)

1. Not only does Iceland allow same-sex marriage, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, its Prime Minister until earlier this year, is in one! She was the world’s first openly lesbian head of state.

And the best part is that nobody cared ^.^

2. Icelanders are highly literate. Around 10% (yes, TEN PERCENT) of the population will publish a book in their lifetime.

I've become a statistic >.<

Alopex lagopus
3. Iceland’s only indigenous mammal is the arctic fox. All together now: Awwwwww.

Vicious beasts... Okay, not really. They're adorable ^.^

4. In Iceland, it rains sideways. This is because the wind never stops blowing. It’s death to hairstyles. If you visit, invest in a few scrunchies so you can wear a ponytail all the time and never, ever show the holiday photos to your hairdresser.

There's a joke about the part of Iceland that I live in: If the wind ever stopped blowing, people  would fall over face-first (because we always have to lean against the wind - okay, not funny when you have to explain it...).

5. Volcanic ash, which caused such a palaver a few years ago, is actually coarse, gritty black sand. It’s quite fun to scrunch your toes into when you go swimming in the Blue Lagoon. Less fun, obviously, when sucked into your aircraft engine.

Yeah, sorry, World. The Dutch and Brits wanted cash but we misunderstood and sent them ash :/

Elven graveyard (according to JL!)
6. There are elves in Iceland. So many, in fact, that in a hugely unpopular measure of 2007, the government enforced an official cull. Today, you can see the poignant sight of elven graveyards all over the country, the final resting places of the hidden folk marked by small cairns of stone.

Not true! The graveyards, that is - the elves are very real ;)

7. One thing I knew about Iceland before I went was that there are no trees there. This is a lie. THERE ARE TREES IN ICELAND! All right, there aren’t very many, and they’re mostly not very big, but they’re there. There’s a saying: What should you do if you get lost in a forest in Iceland? Stand up.

Damn, you stole my next joke :P That seriously is a joke that every Icelander knows (and we actually think it's funny, hehe).

No Sheep! 
8. Another thing I knew about Iceland was that it’s full of sheep. This is also a lie. THERE ARE NO SHEEP IN ICELAND! Nope, not one. I didn't see a single shake of a lamb’s tail while I was there. Of course, they could all have been hiding in the middle bit where the main roads don’t go… No, sorry, I don’t believe it. There are no sheep in Iceland.

So not a lie! They're as real as the elves!
9. On the other hand, there are MILLIONS of ponies in Iceland. Seriously. Everywhere you go, fields full of gorgeous, shaggy-coated, floppy-maned ponies. Which leads us to:

10. Those lovely Icelandic sweaters you see everywhere, with the thick wool and the yoke pattern around the neck? Sort of like Sarah Lund wears, only nicer? Knitted out of ponies. They shear them in the summer, bleach or dye the wool, and knit it into sweaters. Honest. It’s the only explanation.

Haha, maybe I should suggest to the farmers to collect horse hair to knit out of :P I couldn't wear one though because I'm allergic. We do make wallets out of fish skin though, so it's an idea ;)

Some memories are better off lost in the mist…
Eight months ago, British academic Paul Ansell lost his lover—and all the memories of their time together—in an accident at Iceland’s Gullfoss Falls. Returning to the misty island country to resume his study of the bloodthirsty Viking Egil Skallagrimsson is tough as he struggles to pull his life back together.

First, there’s his colleague, Mags, who treats him like glass, and summer student Alex, who peppers him with discomforting questions. Then there’s Icelandic jet-boat driver Viggo, a tattooed, modern-day Viking who won’t say much about how they know each other. Leaving Paul to wonder if their volcanic attraction is fuelled by a desire to make a fresh start, or desperation to forget the past.

As more fragments of his lost memories fall into place, Paul is unsure if he can trust himself, much less anyone around him. And he begins to suspect his accident was nothing of the kind.
Warning: Contains a modern-day Viking whose boat has V8 engines for oars, and a harsh land of hot springs and hotter passions that won’t forgive any false steps.


I’m offering a free signed paperback copy of Pressure Head (I’m happy to ship internationally) to a randomly chosen commenter on the tour, plus a $10 Amazon gift certificate!

I’ll be making the draw around teatime on Monday 30th September, GMT. Good luck! :D

JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea.  She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance, and is frequently accused of humour. 
She is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Find JL Merrow online at:


  1. Thanks for hosting me, Erica - and thanks so much for your help with Fall Hard. :D

    I still don't believe it about the sheep, though. Elves? Yes. Sheep? No. ;)

  2. Thanks for this! I learned some new things about Iceland.

  3. Darn it! You aren't supposed to go around telling everyone that we exist. If you are not careful we will send our attack sheep after you.
    We are watching you.

    -the sheep riding elves

    (p.s. we can't wait to read Fall Hard, and absolutely loved Pressure Head)

    1. You don't scare me, sheep-riding elves! I've spent the last twenty years training in anti-sheep self defence tactics, ever since (trufax) I got mugged by one on a roadside in Yorkshire! ;)

      (And thank you!*g*)

  4. Thanks for the fun facts about Iceland. I love the ponies - wish I had one.

    1. You're welcome! The ponies are gorgeous, and there are so many of them! I'm sure I saw far more ponies than people while I was there. :)

  5. Thanks for the Iceland fun facts...and the adorable picture of the Arctic fox. :-)

    1. You're welcome! The fox is utterly squeeable, isn't it? Alas, I didn't see any when I was there. Maybe they were all off visiting the sheep-riding elves... ;)

  6. Thanks for sharing and the giveaway. It was a funny post!

  7. I'd love to see all those ponies roaming around. I saw lots of sheep in the UK, lol.


    1. Oh, we definitely have our fair share of sheep in the UK. I'd be happy to trade some for a few fields of Icelandic ponies, though! :D

  8. Love the ten facts about Iceland! I'd love to visit someday... And is that arctic fox up for adoption?


  9. I guess the reason Iceland has no sheep is because we have them all here in Wales ;) Now if only we could steal all those really cute Arctic Foxes too :D

    felinewyvern at googlemail dot com

    1. Ilona, I now have visions of thousands of sheep swimming the Atlantic en masse in search of the greener pastures of Wales! ;D
      Maybe the Arctic foxes were just too lazy. The one in the picture certainly seems to like his leisure!

  10. Ashley, I can definitely recommend Iceland for a visit - but you'll have to ask Erica about the arctic foxes! ;)

  11. I'd love to go to Iceland :)

    1. It's a great place. So different in terms of scenery, yet somehow, as a Brit, you feel a sort of kinship with the land and the people.

      It's probably the relative lack of sunny weather when compared with other places! ;D

  12. Icelandic ponies are great, although I suspect they keep the best ones over there for themselves.

  13. It was clear from your descriptions of Iceland, especially when Paul was discussing it with Alex, that you like the landscape. It's somewhere I want to go, especially because of the geology. You made it sound very attractive, as the people and elves sound fun too.

    1. I absolutely loved Iceland! So very different from other places I've been, yet easy to feel at home in. And have I mentioned the food? The food's lovely! (Although I confess I didn't try fermented shark!) ;)

    2. Oh my god, don't try the shark unless you're fond of puking :P

    3. LOL! Not my favourite activity, so I think I'll pass! ;D

  14. For the love of all that's pure and evil you called our horses ponies! UGH that's a major insult to an Icelandic horse owner, which I'm not, so I forgive you.
    Even though they are short, they are indeed considered horses, well, at least here in Iceland :p
    Regarding the:
    1) Sheep: what time of year were you here?
    These very cute white, black and/or brown fluffy balls are roaming free around our heaths and mountains from April to September, eating grass, birch, berries and Thyme, basically marinating them self for several months.
    2) The elves: My grandfather told me, that if you see a large rock that has a lighter color than the rest of the rocks around, that that's where the elves live.
    The Arctic Fox: If you want to see one, I'd recommend you to go to the west part of Iceland, especially if you are hoping to touch one, but if you don't want to or don't have the time, check out the petting zoo in Reykjavik

    I loved your 10 facts, it made me smile. I love seeing Iceland through a tourists eye.

    Ps. my hat off to any foreigner who dares to taste the shark. I don't like it my self, but my aunt eats it like candy *chills*
    Can't wait to read your book

    1. My apologies re the horse/pony confusion! I'm not a horsey person so I'm afraid I don't have a clue what the difference is - I guess I just thought of them as ponies because they're so cute! :)

      I was in Iceland in July/Aug. Clearly someone warned the sheep in advance to stay out of sight! And I wish I'd known that about the rock colour. I had no idea how to go about finding elves! ;)

      Thanks for the tips, and I'm glad you enjoyed the post! :D

  15. What a fun post, and I love the sassy back-and-forth banter!