The idea of finding love in unconventional places is a premise romance authors like me thrive on. In fact, it’s what keeps us daydreaming and writing, playing matchmaker for all the fictional characters running around in our heads. That notion is where our stories are born and nurtured before we send them out into the world for readers to devour. The most unlikeliest of couples come together time after time, against all odds, fighting to hang onto their happily ever afters. That’s true romance!
I was leaving a concert in Chicago over a year ago, having just watched my favorite band, Slash ft. Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators, slay a frenzied crowd. I’d had a blast, but I came away from that show with the crazy idea to attempt to contact the band’s bass player, Todd "Dammit" Kerns, for an interview. At the time, I was quite simply infatuated with him (Yeah right. Like I’m not still infatuated now), and that infatuation gave rise to a story idea - love in unconventional places, remember? Well, because I track that band’s every movement, I was well aware of the crazy schedule they'd been keeping. In fact, it was that insane touring schedule that was at the very heart of the romance beginning to brew in my mind - take two extremely busy people with jobs that take them around the world and back again, and make them fall in love.
Long story short, with the help of a very special music fan (whose name might just rhyme with Janette Martin), I was granted after show passes for another concert months later where I got the opportunity to ask for my interview face-to-face. The amazing part for me was that when it was finally my turn to talk to Mr. Kerns, the very first thing he said to me was, “So I didn’t realize before that you are actually a writer.” Stopped my introduction dead in its tracks. I didn’t need to explain who I was or what I did, he already seemed to know. It was an amazing feeling (thank you Janette). It made asking for the interview so much easier! And he gave his cheerful “Sure. Let’s do it,” answer with such generous grace and enthusiasm.
INTERESTING SIDEBAR: Thinking back on that first encounter with Todd Kerns for this blog post, I now realize that I may have inadvertently slipped a very similar situation into the book where Shelby meets Thaddeus Kyle for the first time. That is too funny! (See, this is why you should be careful around writers, kids. Everything you do or say is fodder for a story).
So we conducted our interview via email, and I asked all manner of questions about life as a musician, and his personal career experiences. Todd was a very gracious interview subject, answering every question with truly thoughtful responses that helped give my fictional character, Thaddeus Kyle, a real sense of depth and complexity that I don't think any of my other fictional leading men have ever possessed before. (I hope readers agree with me after they’ve met him).
During the writing of the book, Todd released his long-awaited TKO solo album (15 years in the making). 45 minutes of hard-pumping rock and roll at its finest. My personal favorite track on the album though is a little gem called True Romance. It spoke to me from the moment I first heard it, and with good reason. It was all about that notion that romance authors like me thrive on day in and day out. That idea of finding love in unconventional places. Yeah, the main characters in the song may both have somewhat scandalous pasts, but that only makes their love story that much stronger. An unlikely couple battling the odds to stick together - that was Shelby and Thaddeus’ story too (just without the more salacious parts), so True Romance seemed like the perfect title to me. And since I’m about halfway into writing book 2 of this new Rockstar Romance Series, I’ve decided each book will have a Todd Kerns song title. He is the rock star who inspired the original story, after all. When I ran that idea past him just recently, his response was…
“Wow! That’s so awesome. You can use whichever titles you like. It is an absolute honor!”
It was my honor to interview such an amazingly talented, truly kind, delightfully humble rock star. And it is my honor to now call him a friend.