Interview with Kevin Simmons, author of Solo

Kevin Symmons has a BS and an MBA. He has attended the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music and studied in France. After a successful career in business management and consulting, he returned to his first love: writing. His first novel, a spell-binding paranormal romance titled "Rite of Passage" is set in the chaotic period after World War II. It's received dozens of great reviews and was a RomCon Reader's Crown Finalist for 2013. His second effort is a contemporary romantic thriller set near his Cape Cod home, titled "Out of the Storm." Like his first novel, it is an Amazon Best-Seller and received many 5-star reviews. "Solo", an intense and ambitious women's fiction work, has been released from The Wild Rose Press, his award-winning publisher. It explores the devastating effects of privation and domestic violence on the beautiful and extraordinarily talented young heroine.
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Can you tell us what your book is about?

The tag line sum it up… “When the gods want to punish us they let our dreams come true…” (Oscar Wilde). On the surface it deals with the career of a talented young lyric soprano and her lover an equally talented young novelist. But the theme deal with
difficult choices gine and the havoc they can wreak

Why did you write your book?

I’ve written others… frankly more commercially successful but it was a story I always wanted to write. I find it both sad and fascinating to examine what happens when we’re forced to make a choice that can have a lasting effect on our lives. My heroine has to hose between the quick and less fulfilling road to success and staying the course. I’m sure you can imagine which she takes!
Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Jessica Long, my heroine—around which the novel revolves is a striking, vastly talented and driven young vocalist. She’s driven by her desire to be the best lyric soprano in the world but she’s faced with a terrible choice… go for the quick chance at fame or stay the course which means finishing her serious musical studies, staying with the man she loves and her struggling family. She takes the easy choice and lives to regret it. Matt Sullivan is a brilliant young grad student, a writer, who loves Jesse but he’s spoiled and stubborn and when she makes her choice he refuses to accept it. They will spend years loving each other from afar. Mario Altieri is an affable but mysterious older man who seems to take an oddly paternalistic interest in Jesse. We begin to suspect that his kindness will have a price. Lawrence Webb is a middle-aged Broadway producer who falls for Jesse the first time he hears her sing at a recital and his affection and sponsorship propels her to stardom in musical theater.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I think every author imbues his heroes and heroines (no matter what his/her sex) with some of themselves. But mine are based on people I have met, seen or in some cases have traits modeled to some degree after characters from other novels. As has been said about ideas… I don’t think there are any really new or unique characters in fiction?

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write?

As you may be aware there is a fun and ongoing discussion amongst novelists about plotters vs. pantsers (those who plots are based on seat of the pants—e.g ideas that occur as they write). What Stephen King in On Writing refers to as organic writing. I am a die-hard pantser. I envision a first scene that I think will grab my readers and of course have a general idea of where the novel is heading but I love the feel of creation as it evolves and often takes me places I could never have imagined.

Your book is set in Boston, Portland, Maine, New York City and Hollywood.  Can you tell us why you chose these cities in particular?

My novel deals intimately with the arts… musical theater, literature and motion pictures so voila… where better?

Is it hard to get a mainstream/women’s fiction book published?

At the risk of being smart, is it easy to get any book published by a traditional or top-level small press today (A publisher who has a gate-keeper and pays you—not the reverse)? Since I had established a successful track record with my publisher I was able to get this novel contracted. But it took me almost five years of submitting before I got “the call” for my first novel. I think that qualifies as difficult?

Is it hard to promote a romantic thrillers or women’s fiction book and where do you start?

Yes! This may be THE most difficult part of being an author today who is not one of the top echelon (King, Brown MHClark, Grisham, Sparks, etc). It requires constant social media presence. I have two FB pages totaling 1600 fans/friends, 2000 Twitter followers, a first-class website that we update constantly, Amazon and Good Reads pages, a fine publicist and placing doing endless workshops, library events and all manor of public appearances… etc!

Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

No… I’ve never believed in it but I know it can occur. I work on multiple projects at once and that keeps my mind active. I call it my intellectual sorbet!

Which holiday is your favorite and why?

Thanksgiving…. Because I’m a die-hard devotee of that wonderful 5 week holiday period that it “kicks” off!

What do you like to do for fun?

I love the water and boating. We have a home on Cape Cod on the water. I think it’s the most relaxing thing I know of!

 What do you like the most about being an author?

Being responsible for the creation of something that helps to educate, entertain, allows escape and draws forth emotion for my readers!

What is the most pivotal point of a writer’s life?

For the ones that I know receiving that first real book contract. Though I’ve never self-published, I’m sure that can be as gratifying.

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

Never stop learning and writing. Talent is involved but writing is a craft like playing the piano. You improve with practice. But most important… never give up. Do not let rejection defeat you! Thanks!