Los Angeles-based stylist Nico Takahashi loves his job—or at least, he used to. Feeling fed up and exhausted from the cutthroat, gossip-fueled business of Hollywood, Nico daydreams about packing it all in and leaving for good. So when Grady Dawson—sexy country music star and rumored playboy—asks Nico to style him, Nico is reluctant. But after styling a career-changing photo-shoot, Nico follows Grady to Nashville where he finds it increasingly difficult to resist Grady’s charms. Can Nico make peace with show business and all its trappings, or will Grady’s public persona get in the way of their private attraction to each other?
Grady presses his lips flat, looks up at the ceiling again to gather himself, sniffs and nods, then tugs Nico’s foot closer by his ankle. “Do you think... If we’d met at a bar. Or through a friend of a friend. Or the gym.” Grady’s thumb strokes the tender skin of Nico’s calf beneath the hem of his pants. “If we had just been two regular guys? We really could have been something.”
There’s a question in his voice, a hesitancy that maybe Nico would have rejected him eventually anyway. Nico scoots across the cramped bunk, crowds against Grady, shoulder to shoulder. “Well, we never would have met at the gym because I would have taken one look at you and gone home to mourn the body I’ll never have by consuming gallons of ice cream.”
Grady bumps his shoulder. “Shut up, you’re gorgeous.” He tips his head against the wall and grins. “If I’d first seen you at a bar I probably would have humiliated myself by trying to win you over with bad karaoke and shameless flirting.”
Nico’s eyebrows raise. “You mean to tell me you’ve been holding back on me? You have a level of flirting that’s even more shameless?”
“Oh yeah. You ain’t seen nothin’, sweetheart.”
“That is truly terrifying.”
Grady laughs, bright and uninhibited. Nico is so relieved to hear it, a moment of light in the darkness. Grady’s hand rests on Nico’s knee, Nico watches his own hand brush his fingers there, but he doesn’t linger.
“We aren’t, though. Just two random guys.”
Grady’s fingers flex, curving over his kneecap. “No.”
Nico exhales harshly. “I have never wanted to be a groupie so badly.”
Grady shoves at his leg. “Come on, you didn’t really think that I would do that to you—”
“In my weaker, more insecure moments?” Nico scrunches his face, embarrassed. “Yeah, I did.”
“You think that little of me, huh?” He says it with a teasing grin, but Nico’s heart sinks.
“No, Grady. I think you’re…” A million adjectives flash through his head: beautiful, amazing, stunning, compassionate, kind, generous. A supernova. He settles on, “Really special.”
Grady gives a skeptical lift of his eyebrows. “Uh oh. I’m really special, huh?”
“I’m so, so into you and it’s…” He cringes at the words but it’s true, “It’s not you, it’s me.”
“Oh lord.” Grady laments with a laugh. “Not that, please.”
“I’m the guy on the sidelines. I’m the one who makes everyone else shine. I don’t belong there, in the spotlight. I like that at the end of the day I can go home and just walk away from the cameras and the red carpets and the scrutiny. And you—you’re a star. And you can have anyone.”
Grady turns, the cramped space of the bunk making his limbs bump and nudge and curl around Nico’s body. During Grady’s shows, in the moment just before he starts singing the opening line of “Broken Records,” there’s this pause, this moment suspended in the air when the audience is silent and waiting and doesn’t even dare to inhale because in that moment, Grady’s soul is laid bare. He looks at Nico just like that and Nico can’t breathe around it.
“I don’t want anyone,” he says, voice low and serious. “I want you. How do you not get that?”
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, she has also authored a children’s book and has a devoted following in the fan fiction community. She is also the author of Interlude Press books Spice and Pivot and Slip. Broken Records is Book One in Lilah’s Spotlight Series.
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26223139-broken-records
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Lilah Suzanne author of Broken Records. Hi Lilah, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Favorite thing about building your own world? Creating characters is my absolute favorite part. For me it’s characters first, and then their world comes to life around them.
What inspired you to write your first book? Pivot and Slip was inspired by my own struggles with losing a dream and what comes next, how you pick up the pieces when you feel like you’ve really lost yourself somewhere. Pivot and Slip was itself a realization of a new dream and new ambitions.
Do you have a specific writing style? I think I have a pretty well developed rom-com style, which is something I both intentionally worked on cultivating, and also what just sort of comes out when I write.
Who are some of the authors that influenced you to write? Anytime I read a book I find something inspirational, even if it’s not my favorite author or book. So I really do feel as if every story I’ve read has been an inspiration; I just wanted to do what they were doing however I could!
What are some jobs you’ve held? Have any of them impacted your writing? How? I’ve worked a variety of retail jobs, which means you meet a lot of people and get to know humanity at its most demanding and impatient. I also taught preschool, and I have to say taking care of a classroom full of toddlers was much easier than working retail. The impact of these jobs on my writing would have to be the realization that everyone has a story, and everyone matters.
Thank you for stopping by today Lilah!
Tour Dates & Stops:
17-Dec: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Hearts on Fire, Cheekypee Reads and Reviews, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Velvet Panic, Michael Mandrake, Mikky's World of Books
18-Dec: My Fiction Nook, Elisa - My Reviews and Ramblings, All I Want and More Books, Nautical Star Books, Havan Fellows
$25 Interlude Press Web Store Gift card plus five multi-format eBooks to runners-up