In Fumbled, part of the Playbook series, Poppy is a single mom of her adorable son Ace, working in a club when she runs into her high school sweetheart. He just so happens to be an NFL player these days… and jaw-droppingly gorgeous.
Kathryn Monaco: Ace was such a great character. What did you want to highlight most about Poppy and Ace’s relationship?
Alexa Martin: Thank you! Ace reminded me a lot of my oldest son and I was able to draw on that to hopefully create a well-rounded character. With Poppy and Ace, I really wanted to focus on the love and bond between a parent and their child. Also, I wanted show how difficult that love can be. Ace wants to play football and Poppy wants Ace to be safe. That struggle, although different in households, is something all parents go through. I also love the way Poppy and Ace communicate together. She respects him and shows him that, she never discounts his feelings or emotions because of age. That respects goes back both ways, creating a healthy, loving relationship.
KM: I loved the friendship between the women! Did you draw from your own experience?
AM: It was and I’m so glad you enjoyed them! I was so young when I moved with my husband to Baltimore. We were all going through this experience that is almost surreal, which can be lonely. Most of us were starting our own families without any family nearby, so we created those relationships with each other. We’d watch games together, celebrate holidays, throw baby showers, and cry with each other when someone’s significant other was injured or traded. We became family and they really showed me the kind of woman I wanted to become.
KM: In terms of your writing process, how did you choose the characters you focus on in each book of the series?
AM: There is usually a theme or a concept I want to focus on in each book and the characters build from there. For Intercepted, I really wanted to focus on a woman struggling (and succeeding) to find her own identity in a world where it is so easy to be swallowed whole. Fumbled, I wanted to discuss the dangers of the sport and what it’s like for the people who love these athletes. Blitzed really focuses on female friendships and feminism, while Snapped is centered around racial identity and racism within professional football. I’d like to think the characters in each of these stories not only help propel these stories forward, but make issues that might not affect the reader become more relatable.
KM: Poppy’s perspective lets readers in on what its like to join the NFL life from the outside. What do you hope readers take away from this inside look?
AM: If readers are like me, the only idea of what it’s like to be a part of the NFL life is from reality television. Like all good reality television, that vision is coated in glitz, glamour, and drama. In reality, however, the average length of an NFL career is three years and most players will never get that multi-million dollar contract. It’s a lifestyle wrapped in privilege and uncertainty. Whether it’s an injury, getting cut, or age, there is a ticking clock everyday our spouses are wearing that uniform. So we enjoy the time we have by creating long-lasting friendships and giving up any idea of ever only cheering for one team for too long.
KM: What is your favorite romance trope to read?
AM: I love a second chance and secret baby romances! Sound familiar? When I was writing Fumbled, it was just writing my favorite tropes. I had so much fun! And I think it’s more of a sub-genre than trope, but I can’t get enough of romantic suspense!
KM: Do you have any favorite books or shows that are getting you through lockdown?
AM: One of my favorite books of the year is The Marriage Game by Sara Desai. It is so, so funny and I couldn’t put it down! I also loved Dream Maker by Kristen Ashley and Harbor by Rebekah Weatherspoon. Shows? I’m pretty sure I’ve finished Netflix. Never Have I Ever and Sweet Magnolias were wonderful. The Last Kingdom was a little gory for my liking, but I still watched every episode. And I know I’m late, but I finally watched Queer Eye and it is just joy on a screen! I loved every single second of that show.
Discover more books in the Playbook series below as well as more steamy summer romances here.