Interview with Joan Wahl, Author of Summer Love in Music City

Interview with Joan Wahl, Author of Summer Love in Music City

What comes first, the plot or the characters?

For me it was the characters. I was spending more time at home during Covid, watching Hallmark movies, watching country music videos, listening to music.  So, I came up with the idea of a famous musician falling in love with an ordinary woman.  I have always been drawn to the notion of love at first sight, although I have never experienced it myself.  I had worked out how they were going to meet, and after that, it was a matter of asking myself “what would Brody do?” and “how would Summer react?”   After a certain point, I felt like the characters were driving the plot.

Your story is set in Nashville.  Why did you choose that setting for your book?

When the television series Nashville debuted, my adult daughter and I watched it together.  In 2015, we were planning a mother-daughter trip and decided on Nashville.  One trip was all it took for us to fall in love with Music City.  So, roughly five years later I asked myself, why not have someone fall in love in Music City?  Another reason I chose the setting was because I wanted the book to be based somewhere I had been. I have returned to Nashville again many times since 2015, and I feel the things I experienced and the places I visited make the story come alive.

How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written?  Can you tell us about one?

Summer has a twin sister, Autumn.  Brody has twin sisters, Brennan, and Bailey.  It has been both my goal and my hope that their stories will follow.  During the process of writing Summer Love in Music City, Summer and Brody and their families became more like real people to me than simply characters in a book.  Summer and Brody found their happily-ever-after.  But, how will Autumn’s sister being married to someone famous affect her efforts to find love?

If your book was made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?

This is perhaps the easiest question to answer.  One reason I was drawn to the television series Nashville was that it reminded me somewhat of another favorite series, the difference being that Nashville was about the music business, rather than the oil business.  So, being a fan of both the old Dallas and the reboot, the first time I envisioned Brody and Summer, I pictured Josh Henderson and Julie Gonzalo.  I know their chemistry would sizzle.    

If you could choose three people to invite to a dinner party, who would they be and why?

My first inclination was to choose three of my favorite authors.  But I am huge Buffalo Bills fan. Jim Kelly defined an era for me. I would invite Jim, and coach Marv Levy, who took us to four consecutive Super Bowls.  I would also invite Damar Hamlin, who went into cardiac arrest at a playoff game in January of 2023 in Cincinnati.  He reminded us all that there are far more important things in life than football.  And all three reminded me to never give up. 

Who is your hero?

My hero is my daughter.  She has lived through the worst hell a mother can imagine, losing a child.  Our excitement and delight at knowing her first child, my first grandchild, was on the way, was a time filled with hope and anticipation.  It was not long before we discovered he had trisomy thirteen.  Something I had to google, because I had never heard of it.  She chose to give birth to him, knowing he would not survive. I would not have had the courage to do what she did.  Six months later when there was another baby on the way, I held my breath until I saw the miracle she was holding in her arms, the miracle sent from heaven from his brother.  

How many bookshelves are in your house?

There are so many, I had to stop to think about this!  Ten, probably? One holds my to be read pile.  Covid taught me to always have a lot of books on hand to read when libraries and bookstores were shut down.  Two hold my cookbook collection.  Three hold series books that I re-read from time to time – The Sisterhood by Fern Michaels, the various series written by Clive Cussler, and treasured autographed copies.   My husband’s books take up the rest of the shelves.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Outside of writing, I tend to not think of myself as a creative person.  But the truth is there are many creative endeavors I enjoy, first and foremost is scrapbooking.  My scrapbooks are very detailed, and I enjoy coming up with different ways to organize each one.  When I take the time to sit down and look at one, it is like a welcome window into my past – my wedding, photographs and mementos from a favorite trip, a year in review, my daughter from 1 to 21, and my grandson’s milestones.  I also enjoy making personalized calendars as gifts.   

Who is your favorite author and why?

Since I have more than one, this is not an easy question to answer.   I had to narrow it down to the author of the book who has had the most lasting impact on me – Rea Frey and Not Her Daughter.  As I read this book, she completely changed my opinion about whether it is ever right to do the wrong thing.  It was gripping, it was haunting, it was impossible to put down. 

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?

I have a Facebook page Joan Wahl Author where I invite everyone to follow me on this journey.  Being a social media “newbie,” I have yet to make any posts on Instagram, but plan to do so in the coming days as things develop.  You can follow me on Instagram @joandwahl or send an e-mail to me at  [email protected].   Plans for my website are in the beginning stages, and I will keep my Facebook followers updated on the progress.   

Excerpt from Summer Love in Music City

Summer thought perhaps they were heading to the home of Brody’s aunt and uncle, where they could spend some time away from prying eyes. Instead, about thirty minutes later they pulled up in front of a small chapel and she looked at him, shock evident in her eyes. “Where are we?” This couldn’t possibly be what she secretly hoped it was. She had been so anxious for Evan to deliver her to Brody, she hadn’t noticed if the man was wearing a wedding ring. Maybe Evan was getting married and Brody was the best man. Maybe a fan had won a contest and Brody was singing at the wedding. Both of those scenarios made more sense than the one galloping through her brain and making her heart beat a hundred miles an hour.

“I’ll explain in a minute, but I’d like to do it somewhere other than the car.” He got out and, ever the gentleman, came around to open her door for her. Afterwards, she followed him inside.

The interior of the chapel was not at all what she had expected. There was none of the famous Vegas flash and glitter; instead, it was understated, filled with candles and vases of white roses.

She was about to ask if it was all for them when she turned and saw Evan and three strangers out of the corner of her eye. Deep breath, she told herself, you’re letting your fantasies run away with you. But when she turned back around, Brody was down on one knee holding out a black velvet ring box.

Tears were shimmering in his eyes, and he looked terribly nervous. “I love you, and I want to give you my heart and my soul and my body and my name. But before you say anything, I need to tell you something.”

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