Sunday, May 19, 2024

Joan Wahl - The IAN Interview

Joan Wahl

I live in western New York where I enjoy all four seasons (although not so much the lake effect snow!)  In addition to being an author, I am also a wife, mother, sister, and grandmother, and work full time as a legal secretary.  I have been a reader my entire life, and read a little bit of everything, from mysteries, love stories, true crime, the occasional memoir, and historic fiction.  I love to travel, cook, photograph lighthouses, and watch football. 

Summer Love in Music City was born out of my love for country music, and all things Nashville. I watch a lot of country music videos, which remind me of a four-minute short story, and sometimes I want to know more. My main female character, Summer, falls in love with a famous country music superstar.  When their eyes meet backstage after a concert, their worlds collide in a moment of perfect serendipity.  But how can they navigate getting to know one another without the whole world watching and weighing in?

My book is available online at Walmart, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and on Amazon in all formats – soft cover, hard cover, Kindle and Audible.  The audible version was narrated by famous actress and professional narrator, Michelle Williams. 

I wrote Summer Love in Music City with the intention of it being the first in a series, as I am always happy to find a book I love only to discover it is part of a series.   My publisher has the right to future works with the same characters, so I am hopeful that more stories will follow.  I am also in the beginning stages of drafting a stand-alone Christmas story. 


IAN: How long did it take you to write Summer Love in Music City?

Joan Wahl: My best guess is somewhere between six and seven months.  But then the hard work began!  I cannot feel creative sitting at a computer.  My book was entirely hand written, and then typed, printed, revised, proof read, and revised again.  When I wrote the last line of the book, I went back and re-wrote the first line to tie everything together.    

IAN: How did you come up with the title?

Joan Wahl: Without giving one of the most memorable moments away, it is based in part on the name of the main female character, Summer. Brody, her love interest, writes a love song for her entitled Summer Love.  They hope to keep Summer’s identity a mystery by implying that he has a summertime love interest.  The song is an important part of the storyline as it progresses.  

IAN: Who designed the cover?

Joan Wahl: Probably the most “fun” homework assignment my publisher gave me was to go to several bookstores and look at covers that interested me.  I sent them my ideas, along with a description of what my characters and the background should look like, and their graphic arts team brought my vision to life.  

IAN: How is Summer Love in Music City different than others in your genre?

Joan Wahl: My book is both similar and different from others in the genre at the same time.  There is a strong family component, in addition to being a love story. In Summer Love in Music City, my main female character is a twin.  She is close to her family, particularly her twin sister, Autumn.  She recognizes that her decision to embark on a relationship with Brody will affect the lives of everyone she is close to.  I hope everyone who enjoys a close-knit family will find something in my story that they can relate to, and feel like they were transported to so many of the iconic places Summer and Brody visit.   

IAN: Are the experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Joan Wahl: I have met – but never fallen in love with – someone famous.  I have been fortunate to meet some of my favorite authors, actors, musicians and even my football hero.  I have given more than passing thought to what their “real” lives must be like.  How can they have a date night with their spouse or take their children to the zoo?   Is the price of their fame worth what they gave up?

I have, however, traveled to many of the places featured in my book.  I have had many a biscuit at the Loveless Café, a frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity III, and visited the Grand Hotel.  I hope featuring places I have visited has made my story more believable.    

IAN: What was the hardest part of writing Summer Love in Music City?

Joan Wahl: The hardest part of writing the book was coming up with the conflict.  What could cause Summer to lose faith in Brody and their relationship?  It had to be believable, true to the characters, and also to the arc of their story.  I had already envisioned how they would reunite, but first I had to separate them.  I wanted my readers to be so invested in the storyline that they would experience all her emotions – anger, sadness, betrayal.  And experience Brody’s confusion, desperation, and willingness to give everything up for the woman he loved.  

IAN: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Joan Wahl: I used to say if I could change places with anyone for one day it would be New York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub.  One of her earlier works written under her pen name is a time travel story entitled If Only in My Dreams.  Every December when I read it, it transports me to a different place. I feel the confusion and disbelief of the character who travels back and forth in time.  Her desire to try to change history, the fate of the man she has come to love.  Her mysteries are equally intriguing and impossible to put down.  Wendy grew up very close to where I live, and she returns to the area frequently for author talks and book signings.  I have met her on numerous occasions.  She is personable, down-to-earth, and genuinely enjoys engaging with her fans. I could never hope to be as prolific or successful as she is, but I do hope to foster the same kind of connection with my readers.   

IAN: Do you have a specific writing style?

Joan Wahl: I began to think about writing a book in March of 2020 when the world as we knew it changed dramatically.  I did not start with an outline, just a basic idea.  At the beginning, it was a fun hobby.  After about 9 or 10 weeks when I returned to work full time, Summer and Brody were still there, and would not leave my thoughts for long.  Their story deserved to be finished.  Even though I was the one writing their story, I felt like they were driving the train.  I would occasionally have a thought or idea and reject it because it was not true to their characters.  I have never set aside a specific amount of time each day to write, or try to write a certain number of words each day.  But I never know when inspiration will strike, and I have been known to write down an idea on almost anything from the back of a bank receipt, grocery list or envelope.        

IAN: What do you hope readers come away with after reading Summer Love in Music City

Joan Wahl: I am a mother whose daughter lost her first child. Nothing makes you reevaluate your life more than tragedy.  One of the scariest things I have ever done was hit the “submit” button and send my book to a publisher.  I knew I could be a dismal failure, a smashing success, or something in between.  My advice is to do something that challenges you.  You may not want to write a book, but perhaps you always wanted to learn how to paint or sail, go back to school, or audition for a play.  I also want you to cherish your friends and family members.  If you would like to follow me on my Facebook page, Joan Wahl author, I would love for you to join me on this journey.           

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