By Leslie Lindsay
ONE MORE DAY was so emotionally riveting, so devastating, and so well told that I couldn’t get enough. In fact, when I closed the book for the last time (after reading *everything* including the acknowledgements, discussion questions, and about the author), I still looked Kelly Simmons and her other books up on-line. That, to me, is the sign of good book.
The plot revolves around young Ben (2 years old) who goes missing from his car when his mother turns her back for just a brief moment to pay the parking meter. Sounds innocuous enough, right? But then we start getting glimpses that this mother just isn’t right, that there’s something ‘off.’ It was her flawed character (in fact, the *entire* book is brimming with flawed characters, from her mother, husband, friends, and more), and that’s very intriguing to me. Two-year old Ben is missing and no one knows where he is, and there weren’t very many witnesses.
Plus, the mother’s alibi doesn’t exactly jive. It’s nearly a year later and it appears Ben isn’t coming back. Until he does. For just one day. He hasn’t changed. And then–poof–he’s gone again. As a reader, you start guessing what’s real and what’s not. Is his mother (Carrie) just nuts? Even the police aren’t sure what’s going on.
I will say that the “twist” wasn’t at all what I was expecting. And that may be my initial reticence in those early pages. But, I kept with it, and so glad I did. ONE MORE DAY is eloquently told, details of parenthood, grief, and more dazzle, along with family secrets and dysfunctional relationships. Truly an amazing study in spirituality meets psychology, meets supernatural.
Join me as I welcome author Kelly Simmons to the blog couch.
Leslie Lindsay: So, I read ONE MORE DAY in lightening speed, probably because I found the prose to compelling, and that I so, so wanted to know just what the heck was going on. Was it that was for you, too? Did you have an inkling of the direction you wanted to take with this story? Did it grow organically?
Kelly Simmons: I knew the whole story, for the most part. A few of the twists and turns changed along the way, and some of the characters grew far beyond my original vision. But I don’t want to leave the impression that writing it was easy, haha! Because I sweat blood over this one, especially weaving in the roles of the detectives and the unfolding of the crime. Since it’s not a traditional crime/thriller novel, it was tricky using those elements and achieving the right balance.
L.L.: I don’t want to spoil too much here, but ONE MORE DAY is a perfect October read mostly because there’s a little bit of a supernatural element brewing under the surface. In many regards, the characters are unsettling and then there’s the sheer horror of a kid going missing. The mood is dark and the whole thing becomes the stuff of nightmares. In fact, Publisher’s Weekly calls your work, “the perfect read for a stormy night.” Is there a ‘right’ season for a story like this and does that matter?
Kelly Simmons: Originally, the book was slated for October release, but for various marketing reasons, it was moved. I love the idea of being a “stormy night writer.” I relate to being a bit gray, volatile, unpredictable I guess! But there is such an appetite now for writing that is gripping and dark – GIRL ON A TRAIN and GONE GIRL have really changed the landscape for that type of story, so more and more, we see gripping books launched in every season – even summer, with Liane Moriarty’s new release.
L.L.: Carrie, the mother of the child who goes missing is quite religious. She volunteers at a church, prays regularly, and generally calls upon religious teaching from time to time. But ONE MORE DAY creates a bit of a chasm between belief and religion and intuitive inklings. Can you speak to that, please?
Kelly Simmons: It’s just something I’ve noticed over the years, that quite a few religious people people seem skeptical of the intuitive realm. I was fascinated by the idea that you could believe in heaven and yet not believe in ghosts or psychic energy. And honestly, as I get older, and go to more and more funerals, I hear more stories of people speaking to their dead parents and grandparents; of “seeing” them through symbols and signs. It’s interesting to me, and I feel left out, as if I’m missing my sixth sense.
“Twisty, psychologically deft and wildly original. It’ll have you guessing to the very end.” — Megan Abbott, Edgar Award Winning Author
L.L.: I was skeptical of almost all characters of Ben’s disappearance. Every character seemed to have a little bit of a motive, however sick and wrong that may be. Was that your intention all along, to have readers question the sanity of every character? And how might a writer make good use of ‘red herrings?’
Kelly Simmons: Yes, I wanted to scatter small seeds of doubt. But the term “red herrings” actually is troublesome to me, as a writer. Yes, triangles create tension, and red herrings can manufacture that kind of tension. But–real life is filled with doubt, with symbols, with possibilities. Suspicion should be everywhere!
L.L.: I’m going through a phase where structure is a hot issue to me. Maybe it’s because it’s something I tend to struggle with in my own writing. ONE MORE DAY is structured in such that we hear from various characters on different days of the week, yet there’s a good deal of backstory in those sections. How did you devise this framework?
Kelly Simmons: I like having a structure in place before I write; it’s like having a notebook for all your subjects in school! And while there is a lot of forward momentum in a story in which you know something is happening every day – to me, fiction is all backstory. It’s all why, not what.
L.L.: What’s inspiring you lately? What’s got your attention? It doesn’t have to be literary.
Kelly Simmons: When I’m deep in writing mode as I have been all summer, I don’t read as much as I do when I’m revising. But I’ve been devouring the TV series Animal Kingdom, with Ellen Barkin and Scott Speedman. I have a little thing for him, not gonna lie.
L.L.: What are you working on next?
Kelly Simmons: My next novel is about family secrets and prejudice, set on Nantucket.
L.L.: Is there something I should have asked, but forgot?
Kelly Simmons: I’m just so relieved you didn’t ask me how much I weigh. Because when I write, there are M&Ms involved.
L.L.: Kelly, it was a pleasure to read ONE MORE DAY and chat with you. Thanks for coming by!
Kelly Simmons: My pleasure.
For more information, or to connect with Kelly on social media, please see:
About the Author: Kelly Simmons is the author of the critically acclaimed novels STANDING STILL, THE BIRD HOUSE, and ONE MORE DAY. She’s a member of WFWA, Tall Poppy Writers and The Liars Club, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping fledgling novelists.
You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay through these various social medial channels.
[Cover, author image, and book trailer courtesy of K. Simmons and used with permission. Notebook image retrieved from on 8.26.19]