Kelly Simmons third novel, One More Day, not only tackles every mother's worst fear of losing a child, she dives deeper into the nightmare, when mother, Carrie Morgan, believes her child to have returned for a single day only to disappear again. One More Day grapples with secrets, faith, and haunting days.
I have to begin with the obvious question, without giving too much away about the book. What enabled you to "go there" with such a nightmarish subject? How did Carrie's story come to you?
Some of my friends and readers are aware that I have panic disorder - an anxiety disorder that causes panic attacks in certain situations. (Let's just say you don't want to stand next to me in a mosh pit, or sit near me on an airplane, okay?) So I, of the 'worst case scenario' thought patterns, am more than capable of imagining a child being kidnapped in a split second, or an ex-boyfriend hiding a secret for 20 years. Writing about it can scare the crap out of me, but conjuring it comes easily, because my imagination is too vivid, truly!
But beyond the nightmare set up-- ONE MORE DAY explores the worst case scenario of loss, yes, but it's coupled with the best case scenario of returning, for one more day. So Carrie gets to experience it all.
What do you hope One More Day says about faith?
I wanted to explore a group of characters who seemed to believe in heaven and God, but had never really been tested. And how can you believe in God and heaven and not believe in your friend's, or your wife's or daughter's, experience of them?
A big part of the novel focuses on Carrie's past and what she is willing to reveal or risk holding in. What informed your ability to write about this precarious position?
I guess because I have secrets too. I had a rough childhood and a very rocky and dark adolescence. My experiences in high school were worlds apart from my kids'. I consider myself lucky to be alive, and not be in jail. These experiences seep into my work in various ways, but over the years I have found they provide me with a ton of empathy for broken people, especially broken young women.
What surprised you when writing this book?
There were some twists and turns I did not expect, that the characters kind of demanded of me. And I surprised myself with my ability to conjure tenderness for a character who is, essentially, a stalker.
One More Day is your third novel. What did you learn about writing this time around? What is next in store for you?
My other books also have elements of psychological thriller in them - but this is the first time I centered a book around a crime, and dealt with the is-it-or-isn't-it of the paranormal world. That was a true learning experience, and left me with great admiration for actual thriller writers.
I have four other novels in various states of finish - we'll see which one the marketplace is clamoring for. I'm guessing that darkness will win again. I have to ask: What is wrong with us? Why are we all so dark, haha!