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Today I’m interviewing Lilah Suzanne author of Blended Notes, book three in the Spotlight series. Hi Lilah, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
- Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing come from? Well, my dad is a musician and my parents met doing theater, so growing up in a family that encouraged creativity probably helped. I was also the sort of kid who was constantly reading; I devoured anything I could get my hands on. Writing always felt like a natural fit for me, I’ve been doing it since I was pretty young.
- What were your goals when you started this book? Do you think you met them? I wanted to do justice to Grady’s journey and give him a voice from his own perspective, and I wanted to write a satisfying coda to everyone’s journeys in all three books in the Spotlight series. I feel good about how all of this came to fruition, yes. That said, I can see myself writing short spin-offs for more minor characters who didn’t get as much focus, like Spencer or Clementine.
- Have you ever co-written with someone before? Not successfully! I’ve always tackled writing projects on my own—it’s a bit of a solitary journey for me…though I do have a short story coming out in the upcoming holiday anthology, If the Fates Allow, so that maybe sort of counts?
- Tell us about your favorite character in a book (yours or someone else’s). Oh, am I allowed to pick a favorite from my own characters? Is that like picking a favorite child? I’ll say, Grady is most important to me, being from the South, and being bisexual, like me. Also he’s gone through some trauma in his past, he’s messed up pretty badly at times, and yet he works so hard on being kind and compassionate, and he still finds his happily ever. I think that’s an important message.
- List five foods you can’t live without. I am sort of the opposite of a foodie, so I am actually well practiced at going without certain foods. Instead of my five essential foods, I’d like to pick Grady’s, because that says something about him: Barbecue (of course!); Nashville-style hot chicken; Mello Yello counts as food as far as Grady is concerned; frozen custard; and of course, pecan pie.
Grady Dawson’s future looks bright. He’s at the top of his country music career, has a close-knit group of friends who have become his Nashville family, and has found solid ground in his personal life as he plans his intimate, private wedding with Nico, his stylist-turned-lover, turned love of his life. It seems Grady has finally left his difficult childhood and tumultuous youth behind. That is, until his past shows up on his doorstep, news of his upcoming nuptials is leaked to the media, and his record company levels demands that challenge his integrity as an artist and as a person. The foundation of Grady’s new life begins to crumble, and fast. Will he be forced to make the ultimate choice between a private life with Nico and the public demands of his career?
BLENDED NOTES ~ EXCERPT
Have you ever had a moment when you looked at someone and the whole world disappeared?
* * *
Grady’s earliest memory of his mother is watching her leave. It wasn’t the first time she dropped him off at Memaw and Granddaddy’s house, and the remembered moment itself is unremarkable: He’s standing by the road; a cloud of dirt from the driveway into the trailer park lingers hazily in the air; he can see the taillights of her car lit red at the stop sign. The right one blinks a signal, the car turns, and she’s gone. Memaw came to collect him soon after, and he doesn’t recall what he did next—whatever rambunctious five-year-old boys like to do. Maybe he got on his bike and tore around the neighborhood, training wheels be damned. Or maybe he found a squirrel to harass with a makeshift slingshot of forked stick and rubber band. Maybe Memaw plunked him down in front of their old jumpy television.
Sit down for five seconds, Grady. Land’s sake! she’d say, with a look rather similar to the one Nico has when Grady comes around to the aisle where Nico is browsing for home decor. Grady had wandered off when he spotted an old gramophone on display.
“There you are.”
“Here I am,” Grady confirms, dropping a kiss onto Nico’s cheek. Nico leans into him with an easy, comfortable affection that grounds Grady, makes him feel wanted and safe. Grady takes a clear glass bottle from the shelf filled with clear glass bottles of all shapes and sizes and colors and asks, “Do we need apothecary jars?” The label on the jar reads: Green Pain Pills.
Nico takes the jar and turns, holding it up so it catches the sunlight streaming through the plate glass windows in the front of the boutique. “I mean, we don’t not need apothecary jars.” He tips his head and narrows his eyes, assessing the jar before putting it back on the shelf. Nico is determined to fill their new home with things that represent them; it’s sweet, but, for Grady, unnecessary. Nico expresses himself visually: his clothes, his hair, the elegant yet assertive way he holds himself. Of course he’d want knickknacks and furniture and art that speak to the life they’re building together. For Grady, it’s less tangible, not a particular thing he could put on a shelf. It’s two toothbrushes in the holder, the sound of a familiar car pulling into the garage, the lingering scent of Nico’s cologne in their bed, the way Nico brushes a peck to Grady’s lips before he leaves: never a goodbye, always a see you later.
“Did you find something you wanted?” Nico moves on to a display of antique paperweights. One looks like a crystal ball.
“Oh, yeah.” Grady lifts his eyebrows and quirks his lips. Nico shakes his head at that, picks up the crystal ball paperweight, and passes it slowly from hand to hand. “I knew you were going to say that and yet—”
“And yet you still asked,” Grady finishes, teasing, “Why, I think you may even like it.”
Nico hums. He puts the paperweight back. “I suppose I must, considering that I am marry—” He snaps his mouth shut, then glances around to be sure no one overheard him. They’re alone in the store, but still Nico mouths the end of that sentence: “Marrying you.”
And, lord, but does that thrill Grady to his bones, silent or spoken or acted out with charades. He’s marrying Nico, they’re getting married, he and Nico are marrying each other. Grady can tell his own smile is goofy, and Nico has one to match. In the quiet corner of this very unusual store, they can be openly giddy—for a moment.
* * *
Blended Notes, the final installment of Lilah Suzanne’s the Spotlight Series will be published by Interlude Press on August 17, 2017. Connect with the author at lilahsuzanne.com; on Twitter @lilahsuzanne; and on Facebook at facebook.com/lilahsuzanne.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lilah Suzanne has been writing actively since the sixth grade, when a literary magazine published her essay about an uncle who lost his life to AIDS. A freelance writer from North Carolina, she spends most of her time behind a computer screen, but on the rare occasion she ventures outside she enjoys museums, libraries, live concerts, and quiet walks in the woods. Lilah is the author of the Interlude Press books Spice, Pivot and Slip, Broken Records, and Burning Tracks.
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