Recently I read a heart-wrenching novel by author Kelly Simmons, “One More Day.” It’s about a subject most of us can identify with, how losing a child affects us and our relationships. The child in this story was tragically abducted and murdered, but the story doesn’t stop there. What happens to a mother and father when this kind of tragedy strikes. Why do so many marriages break up once the death of a child by foul play occurs? Then to have their son mysteriously appear again, only for 24 hours, before once again disappearing. The story is filled with mystery, human interest, heartbreak and redemption. When I finished the book I wanted to know more about Kelly and what gave her the idea for this unusual story. I asked her for an interview and she graciously said yes and this is the result.
All Things: Kelly, I was intrigued by the thought of having one more day with a lost loved one. What inspired you to write “One More Day?”
Kelly: About two and a half years ago, my agent had two of my manuscripts in hand, and we were brainstorming which publishers to go out to, what kind of strategy, which should take the lead. Then she asked a very dangerous question, ‘Before we settle on a plan, are you working on anything else I should know about?’ Well, I said, I have this kinda cool half-baked thing. A concept and a couple chapters. Her eyes widened when I described it and she said, ‘How fast can you write that one?’
All Things: Of course that was the book “One More Day,” the story of Carrie, her husband John and their little son Ben, available here through Amazon.
One More Day
All Things: The concept for the plot line is an unusual one, how did you come up with it?
Kelly: Well, I was thinking a lot about my sister and my friends who were always claiming that a dead loved one spoke to them, or communicated through an animal or symbol. And I was jealous; I wanted that yet I didn’t believe in it. So the idea of a woman having the worst thing happen — a child kidnapped — and the best thing — loved ones coming back to life for one more day — came together, bam.
All Things: I think many of us can identify with that wish of just “One More Day,” to be with and talk with our loved ones. Considering the emotions the book brings forth in readers, was it difficult for you to write, and were you emotional while writing it?
Kelly: Some of it was very tough to write. The flashbacks to the kidnapping. The scenes of Carrie with her grandmother and her childhood pet. And especially, the scene of Carrie and John at the pond overnight. (Don’t want a spoiler here, but that was a toughie.)
All Things: It also seems as though the two main characters, Carrie and John, are having difficulty communicating, which is typical of a situation like this. Were they based on real people who suffered such a tragedy?
Kelly: Some aspects were — I’d read research of how different people mourn differently. And I’d read plenty of true-child-crime accounts of people blaming the parents for not being emotional enough — or, interestingly, being too emotional. That the crying was fake crying, not real, ugly crying. The mom blamed for being pretty, or stoic. The mom can do no right in these situations, it seems.
All Things: Yes, I’ve seen that before too and I know what you mean. How long have you been writing and what was your first published effort?
Kelly: I have been writing fiction for 15 years, and my first novel, STANDING STILL, was published to very exciting acclaim in 2008.
All Things: What’s your background; schooling? marriage? children?
Kelly: Don’t tell anyone but I didn’t finish college. Just kidding, everyone knows. I was a journalism major, and worked as a freelance journalist and columnist before I started working in advertising. I have 3 children who WILL FINISH college or else!
All Things: That’s what we all say when it comes to our kids: don’t do as I do, do as I tell you to do, haha! What kind of story are you working on now?
Kelly: There are 3 pots on burners in my story kitchen 🙂 — one is about a divorced woman with a volatile Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother in a swanky retirement home who goes broke and they are both suddenly homeless; another is about a family and a tragedy at their summer home; and another . . . . oh, that’s enough. I’m sure that’s enough!
All Things: I’m looking forward to reading them. So Kelly, what practical advice would you give today’s aspiring writers?
Kelly: My advice would be to learn about plotting and structure in theory before you put it into practice — through books or classes. And to find a good critique group. And to not expect your first book to be your only book.
All Things: I really enjoyed “One More Day,” and thanks Kelly for the interview. I’m sure my readers will love hearing from you as well.
My review of the book mentioned here may be read at: One More Day
Other books by Kelly Simmons available here through Amazon:
Standing Still: A Novel