In Your Next Beach Read, we want to introduce you to a new author every day in June in the hopes that you’ll find the next book you want to take with you to the beach, the pool, or the comforts of air conditioning.
Today’s author is L. K. Simonds, author of All In.
What’s your name and where are you from?
L. K. Simonds, from Fort Worth, Texas
How long have you been writing? How did you start?
I’ve written since my school days. I took steps toward learning to write fiction after I began journaling in my mid-twenties. This I did after reading the journals of a coworker who was a medic in Vietnam. Journaling was cathartic for me. There’s a lot of power in it.
Who are some of your influences?
Stephen King (not his horror – he’s written other fine fiction) for the way he immerses the reader in the world he created. Margaret Atwood for her way with words, her complexity, and the fun she has with the work. Hemingway for his brevity and irony, and for the way he romanticized the writer’s life.
What is your book about?
It’s been said that every novel has one of two themes: a stranger comes to town or someone takes a journey. All In is about a successful young writer named Cami Taylor, who takes an unwelcome journey. Primarily, the book is about friendship and redemption.
Where did you get the idea?
I was in New York with friends in the 1990s. We got out the phone book to see if anyone had the same surnames. The idea came to me of a visitor making such a call to a local, to see if they were related. The story grew from that small spark of an idea.
How long did it take you to finish it?
I wrote the original draft in less than a year during 1999. Almost 20 years later, in 2018, I returned the manuscript and revised it based on the things I’ve learned as a novelist.
Is this your first book, or have you written more than one?
All In is my first novel. I have another complete manuscript, a historical novel, that I’m reworking now.
We all like to write about people we know, even if we never name them. Who are some people who inspired characters or situations?
I put some characteristics of people I know, and myself, into Cami and other major characters in All In, but the characters are all such amalgamations that no one is recognizable. My second novel, the historical one, was inspired by my aunt’s life. Even so, characters always take on their own lives. In that way, they become the offspring of the author and her muse.
What’s your favorite scene in the book?
The latter scene in Chapter Thirty-Five. It’s the scene I was writing to throughout the entire novel, like a climber on belay laboring toward a peak. But don’t helicopter to Chapter Thirty-Five! Read to it.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever got?
As Jacquelyn Lynn said, Read.
What’s the worst?
Advice along the line that a writer’s work has to follow certain rules or formulas or be curated by certain people. The only rule in fiction is that it works.
Where can we buy your book?
The Kindle edition of All In is available now at Amazon. Other editions release August 27.
L. K. Simonds is a Fort Worth local. She has worked as a waitress, KFC hostess, telephone marketer, assembly-line worker, nanny, hospital lab technician, and air traffic controller. She’s an instrument-rated pilot and an alumna of Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas. All In is her first novel.