Former NFL Wife Tackles the Reality of Football Romances

Posted by Hayley on April 1, 2019
They fell in love as teenagers. When he left town to become a professional football player, she followed. They married and had kids. Now he coaches at the same high school where they met, and she writes novels.

This is not another happily-ever-after romance. This is Alexa Martin's real life with husband Derrick Martin.

Her Playbook series is inspired by the eight years she spent as an "NFL wife." In Fumbled, the latest installment, TK Moore, the starting wide receiver for the Denver Mustangs, wants a second chance at love with his high school sweetheart. But Poppy Patterson is no longer a girl with stars in her eyes. The years have hardened her, and it'll take a truly miraculous play to win her heart.

Martin talked to Goodreads about the surprisingly unglamorous life of football wives, the fictional hunks she'd like to see on the field, and the romance author who hooked her on the genre.

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Goodreads: Tell us about how your real-life love story inspired the Playbook series.

Alexa Martin: My husband and I started dating when I was 15. I remember thinking nothing would really come of it because, as my best friend said, “Who actually marries their high school sweetheart anymore?” Well, me, I guess!

He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2006, and I moved with him. Soon after that we married and started our family. I was a stay-at-home mom, and I started a blog to update family and friends while we were away. That’s how I discovered my love of writing.

When I first decided to sit down and start a book, I actually said that I would never write about sports! Living so close to it, I didn’t see the shiny appeal.

But when I was chosen for Pitch Wars (a mentoring contest for writers), Intercepted just popped out. I used some of my real-life experiences—bedazzled jerseys and being part of a group of wives and girlfriends who did charity work—and combined that with my love of Real Housewives.

Fumbled is a little more personal. Seeing the aftereffects of football coupled with the very real news of CTE [chronic traumatic encephalopathy], I wanted to shed a light on that part of the football world.

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GR: What's something that might surprise people about the reality of being an "NFL wife”?

AM: I think what surprises most people is that it’s not that glamorous! People see the players who are making millions of dollars, but the majority of players aren’t making that. And because contracts aren’t guaranteed, it’s hard to settle down in the place where your husband is playing. We rented furniture and apartments until we finally settled in a place he didn’t even play.

GR: In Fumbled, hunky NFL player TK Moore thinks he's over his first love, but as readers, we know better. Why do we all love a second-chance romance so much?

AM: I don’t know what it is! I think it’s the thought of “what if?” We all have that first or second love, and the thought of what would happen if they were to ever pop back into your life is such an intriguing concept. The notion of the one who got away seems so romantic—even though sometimes it’s the one you’re actually happy you never have to see again.

GR: Talk to us a bit about Poppy and how making her a single mom affected this story.

AM: Like most moms, Poppy is fiercely protective of her son, so having TK come back into her life isn't the relief most people would assume. Her son has always just been hers; the decisions, no matter how hard or easy, were hers alone to make. Having someone come in and interfere with that created struggles that she wasn’t prepared for. Watching her overcome those hurdles was really interesting.

GR: What's one of your favorite scenes in Fumbled?

AM: I really loved the scene where Poppy goes to training camp. I still remember when I went to my first training camp. It was such a surreal experience, and I loved transferring that to Fumbled. From the struggle of finding parking to witnessing thousands of people watch the person you care about play football. And then there are the easy friendships that form between families as we watch our loved ones live their dreams.

I was able to focus more on the friendship between wives and girlfriends in this book than I did in Intercepted, and I absolutely loved that.

GR: What were some of the first romance books that made you fall in love with the genre?

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AM: My first step into romance was Fifty Shades of Grey—I call it my gateway drug.

After that, the two I remember the most are the Crossfire series by Sylvia Day and the This Man trilogy by Jodi Ellen Malpas.

But the author who roped me in and never let me go is Kristen Ashley. I think I ignored my family for a solid month as I tore through her entire back catalog. It was actually another football wife who recommended her and introduced me to Goodreads! Shout-out to Mrs. Darling for changing my life!

GR: If you had to put together a football team of fictional characters, who would you choose? (We think choosing athletes is sort of cheating...but it's your call!)

AM: Oh, this is fun! Let’s see. Like I said before, I’m slightly obsessed with all things Kristen Ashley, so I’m definitely putting Hawk Delgado from Mystery Man, Luke Stark from Rock Chick Revenge, and Mace from Rock Chick Reckoning. Then I think I’ll need Shepard Olson from Haven by Rebekah Weatherspoon.

And I don’t know if this is cheating, but I didn’t see any rules, so I’m picking Noc from Maxym Martineau’s upcoming Kingdom of Exiles—he’s an undead assassin, and all of the brothers from Rebecca Zanetti’s Sin Brothers series.

GR: What other sports romances would you recommend to readers?

AM: I don’t know what it is, but I totally have a thing for hockey romances. I love Bountiful by Sarina Bowen and the Nashville Assassins series by Toni Aleo. For football, definitely the WAGS series by Naima Simone.

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GR: What's next on your Want to Read list?

AM: I feel like my TBR list is out of control right now, but the next two on my list are Rafe by Rebekah Weatherspoon and Dr. Strange Beard by Penny Reid.

GR: Beyond football love stories, are there other romance subgenres (or other sports!) you're eager to tackle?

AM: I really want to explore writing books where gender stereotypes are flipped on their heads. I loved Helen Hoang's The Kiss Quotient, which was like a gender-swapped Pretty Woman. And I’m dying for Andie J. Christopher’s Not the Girl You Marry, a gender-swapped How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. I also have an idea for a rock star romance with a girl group.

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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message 1: by Suzette (new)

Suzette Loved this

message 2: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Yes, please write a rock star romance with a girl group!!! When I did my rock star series, I started with a book about the female drummer and when I was writing, I was looking all over for more books about female rock stars!!

message 3: by Meshe1977 (new)

Meshe1977 Amazing insight on a wonderful author. I am eagerly anticipating the next book Fumble!

message 4: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Smith Loved this interview so much!

message 5: by JM (new)

JM Spade Awesome! I love the insight and new ideas for books!

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