Blended Notes By Lilah Suzanne


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?


“Morning, gorgeous,” Grady says, when Nico finally shuffles into the kitchen. Grady loves Nico when he’s all done up: hair intentionally, painstakingly disheveled; his cheeks soft and fragrant from shaving; wearing an outfit so trendy even the fashion magazines can’t keep up. But he loves Nico like this just as much: bleary-eyed and grunting and hair unintentionally messy. Nico sits at the breakfast bar and stares blankly into space. Creases from the pillow still mark one cheek, and his hair seems to be struggling to stay alert, too, as it flops into his face. Grady slides him a steaming cup of coffee.

“I was thinking we could head to The Gulch? And eat at this restaurant me and Gwen found before we go to the florist? If we leave soon we should have time. It’s in an old gas station. I know that sounds weird; it’s not. And there’s a vintage vinyl store that opened recently across the street. How does that sound? Nice, right?”

Nico squeezes his eyes closed and takes sip after sip of coffee. “Too many words,” he whispers, pained.

“Sorry,” Grady whispers back. They don’t often get a lot of Sundays with one only lonely item on their respective to-do lists. “Lunch. Record Store. Florist. Yes?”

Nico’s eyes open again; they’re a little less vacant. “Yes.”

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.

What is your character’s name? Does the character have a nickname? Grady Dawson. No nickname really, though he tried to get people to call him “G-Dawg” in high school. It never really took off, thankfully.

What is your character’s hair color? Eye color? Blond, blue eyes

 Does your character have a birthmark? Where is it? What about scars? How did he get them? He has a scar on his bottom lip from a car accident that could have been much, much worse than it was.

 Who are your character’s friends and family? Who does he surround herself with? Who are the people your character is closest to? Who does he wish he were closest to? Grady has a close-knit group of friends who have become family in Nashville: his fiancé Nico of course, fellow country singer Clementine, his former assistant Spencer, and Nico’s business partner Gwen and her wife, Flora. \(You can get to know them better in the first two Spotlight books!) He’s close to Nico’s parents as well. There are times he wishes his was closer to his mother, then there are times that he knows she likely would have caused him more harm than good.

 Where was your character born? Where has he lived since then? Where does he call home? He was born in a poor, rural town outside of Nashville, and officially moved into Nashville once his music career really started to take off. Since then, he’s traveled extensively and lived short-term in other places, but will always consider Tennessee his only home.

 Where does your character go when he’s angry? He has to move, has to something physical or he feels like he might shake apart. Usually, he’ll go for a ride on an ATV or dirt bike. Sometimes he’ll go for run or work out.

 What is his biggest fear? Who has he told this to? Who would he never tell this to? Why? Grady’s worst fear is that he really is unlovable, and that people will always end up leaving him just like they did in the past. It’s something he’s talked about a lot, Grady is a pretty open book in the hope that it might help someone else who is going through the same thing.

 Does he have a secret? Living a public life as a well-known country singer makes having secrets difficult.

 What makes your character laugh out loud? Nico. He finds his sarcastic, sharp humor to be one of the most delightful things about him.

 When has your character been in love? Had a broken heart? Many times, and many times. Grady is the kind of person who feels everything very deeply, he loves just as hard as he breaks.

 Fun & In-Depth Questions

What is in your character’s refrigerator right now? On her bedroom floor? On her nightstand? In her garbage can? In the fridge is probably take out leftovers and bottles of kombucha and Mello Yello, maybe some milk, and that’s it. The bedroom floor is pretty clean, sometimes there will be a guitar or another instrument, a rejected outfit or two. On Nico’s nightstand there would be fashion and celebrity gossip magazines, assorted books and chargers, and on Grady’s, a notebook and pencil for any late-night song inspiration, probably a drink he forgot about, some pictures he hasn’t decided what to do with yet.

Look at your character’s feet. Describe what you see there. Does he wear dress shoes, gym shoes, or none at all? Is he in socks that are ratty and full of holes? Or is he wearing a pair of blue and gold slippers knitted by his grandmother? Grady is most likely barefoot, because he likes to wear as little clothing as possible. For comfort, but also a little bit because it makes Nico’s brain short out. If he’s out and thus actually dressed, he tends to wear boots; either his well-worn battered pair or some hand-crafted fancy pair Nico picked out for him. The benefits of dating a stylist.

When your character thinks of her childhood kitchen, what smell does he associate with it? Sauerkraut? Oatmeal cookies? Paint? Why is that smell so resonant for him? Grady’s grandparents raised him and his Memaw was an amazing cook, so the kitchen always smelled like something delicious. He blames her for the fact the he’s a terrible cook, in fact, because he knows he’ll never make anything that even comes close, so why bother?

What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting? From the book:

Grady’s earliest memoryof 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. e 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.”

Your character is getting ready for a night out. Where is he going? What does he wear? Who will he be with? He has to make a fair number of public appearances, like charity banquets and award shows and red carpet events for this or the other thing. He likes them, actually, he’s outgoing and loves to meet people and socialize, even if it’s not his first choice of a night out. Someone else picks out his clothes, Nico or Gwen or sometimes an outfit just appears and he doesn’t know for sure who put it there. Grady’s ideal night out, when he has the choice and he and Nico’s busy schedules line up for once, is to see live music together. Preferably at a small venue with small local bands— that’s Nashville and country music at its finest, in Grady’s opinion.

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by Parker Williams

Parker writes m/m fiction where happily ever afters will require work to reach. He loves broken characters, hurt and healing, pain and comfort.

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