Kevin Symmons is a best-selling novelist and college faculty member. He served four terms as president of the Cape Cod Writers’ Center. His paranormal novel, Rite of Passage, was a 2013 RomCon Reader’s Crown Award finalist and has been an Amazon bestseller. Out of the Storm, another Amazon bestseller, is a contemporary romantic thriller set on Cape Cod.
Solo is an ambitious women’s fiction work and his third release from New York’s award-winning Wild Rose Press. Kevin has collaborated with an award-winning Boston screenwriter in adapting one of his story ideas for the screen. He is a sought-after lecturer and public speaker who has appeared across New England and the Northeast. Visit him at www.ksymmons.com.
Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Solo. When did you start writing and what got you into romance and women’s fiction?
I’ve been seriously writing novels for about 10 years. I had the incredible good fortune to be mentored by an amazing writer and teacher, Jo Ann Ferguson. Jo Ann was a past President of RWA (Romance Writers of America) and [on the] faculty at Brown University. She taught me that the most important element in writing fiction was evoking emotion in our readers. I think what I wrote evolved from those classes. And when I first submitted to my current publisher they liked my work but wanted me to rework it into formulaic romantic fiction—which I did. Now they publish a wide variety of commercial fiction which has enabled me to broaden my horizons.
Did you have a mentor who encouraged you?
Yes, the woman I mentioned above, Jo Ann Ferguson. She was a wonderful teacher and author (more than 100 titles). I ended up taking four classes with her. She loved my writing style, and got to the point where she read and edited some of my novels. We stay in touch and correspond and though I’m about 96 novels behind her, we joke that someday I’ll catch up. She gave me the confidence that I could really be traditionally published and voilà, I was!
Like so many of my writing friends who came to this in middle age I knew nothing about the difficulties of the submission and publishing process. Despite having a Master’s Degree I was so naïve at first I thought that you wrote a manuscript, found an agent and waited for the offers from Random House and St. Martin’s to flood [your] mail box! It took me five years, fired agents, and rejections too numerous to count before I found my publisher and after working with them for five years I have no regrets!
What was your inspiration for Solo?
I had a background in serious music – had studied vocal performance at New England Conservatory and minored in Music at Northeastern University. And my father and two aunts had been serious musicians. I was a professional performer (though not close to being as successful as my heroine) and gained my insights and knowledge from my experiences and those of my musician friends. My hero is a published author, and my experience as an author gave me significant insights into publishing.
What do you hope readers will get from your book?
Solo is about choices. If I wanted to get intellectual I’d say it “adopts an existential theme!” Wow – the tag line (borrowed from Oscar Wilde) is “When the gods want to punish us they let our dreams come true!” I.e. I want the reader to walk away with this thought: be careful what you wish for; it may come true. Solo details the long, heart-wrenching, often agonizing journey of Jessica Long as she rises from unknown musical student to mega-star only to discover that fame, fortune and money are not what she sought. But having sacrificed her family, the love of her life and her chance at true artistic fulfillment Jesse must live with her decision. An old story told in a sadly refreshing new way!
What do you do when your muse refuses to collaborate?
I am always working on several projects (usually novels) at once. I call this my intellectual sorbet, meaning that if I find myself stuck for a day or two I can work on another project and then go back to the one that is my major project at that time. I am not a big believer in writer’s block per se but we all get stale on occasion. As an example I worked on Solo off and on for almost seven years while writing and publishing others. There comes a time when that “sorbet” novel becomes my primary focus and another takes its place in the queue.
Many writers experience a vague anxiety before they sit down to write. Can you relate to this?
No, I really can’t unless I’m on a strict deadline, as say when I get galleys (final corrected copies) from my editor/publisher and have only 10 days to check them and return them. Actually I am always way ahead of schedule. Always have been whether it’s a business or home project or my latest novel.
Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined?
Not really. That is, I don’t get up at 8:00 a.m. write for four hours like Robert B. Parker (rest his soul) or Stephen King, then edit, do research and go to the gym. I’m a multitasker, always have been. I can write for an hour, weed the garden for an hour, go to the store or the gym then come home and write for three more hours. I do generally write late in the day – and into the wee hours. I’m not the diurnal type; I have a nocturnal metabolism. But I always am working 24/7/365. On a day like this one I had a memorial for a writing friend, came home and watched the NFL playoffs then spent time on Facebook and doing these interviews.
Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about your work?
Yes, I’m very proud of my website (and I can say that in all humility since I didn’t create it!) www.ksymmons.com. And my Facebook address is: facebook.com/kevinsymmonswriter. I’m also on Amazon, Goodreads and @Kevinsymmons on Twitter.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00I28COTM][amazon template=iframe image&asin=1628303026][amazon template=iframe image&asin=1628300299][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00938WLP2]