Interiew with the local paper
Life blends with fiction in local author's novel
Miner Staff Reporter
Friday, January 23, 2009
KINGMAN - From a young age, local author Sophia Simmons loved to write, but she never thought she'd end up as an actual "writer."
Since her high school days, Simmons regularly wrote poetry and kept journals. But when she found herself trapped in an abusive marriage and the subsequent messy divorce, she often turned to writing as a means of self-therapy, using pen and ink to vent her frustrations, analyze her situation and give herself hope.
"I never had the direction to be a writer," Simmons said. "I knew it was something I enjoyed, but it never dawned on me as a career."
Today, however, Simmons is quite comfortable with the idea, following the November release of her first novel, "Love Again," a semi-autobiographical story of one woman's attempt to rediscover her strength and courage after suffering the repeated pains of a failed marriage and a torrid relationship with a new man who wasn't all he seemed.
"Love Again" closely parallel's Simmons' own life in many ways, from the protagonist's alliterative name, Cynthia Stewart, to the thinly-veiled version of Kingman (Kingstown) where she lives. Cynthia, like Simmons, was married to her physically abusive husband for more than 10 years before finally breaking free, and like Simmons, Stewart quickly found herself in a new relationship with an exciting, passionate man from Las Vegas whom she met online.
"She'd been separated only about three months, so she does rush in," Simmons said.
"I wanted to do it how things really happen, and a lot of times we don't really think about it."
But the new relationship falls apart over time, as Cynthia tries to balance the long-distance liaisons with her three children, her friends and the insecurities she still feels from her previous relationship.
While she navigates these challenges, her new man and her ex-husband find themselves questioning their own shortcomings and why they are the way they are.
"You see the men in the story deal with that to a degree," Simmons said.
"They don't want to be that way."
Simmons said recovering from her own painful experiences required a great deal of introspection, and Cynthia undergoes the same exercise While Simmons does not blame Cynthia - or herself - for the abuse and infidelity she has suffered, Simmons does question her motivations and has her reassess why she ends up with the men she has.
"She commits to looking into herself," Simmons said. "She finds out that it's in the choices that she's made, it's not always that you can blame, 'Oh these are lousy lovers, these are lousy men.' She can make better choices; 'Now that it's happened, how can I avoid this?'"
While much of the book is based on Simmons' own life, she also includes the experiences of women she used to council as a lay minister for a non-denominational church in Pasadena, Calif. She said she wrote the book, in part, to reassure these women that they are not alone in their pain, and that they can recover, as she did.
"You hear so many things from so many different women," Simmons said. "You feel like you're the only one, and I wanted to reach back and help women see they're not the only ones."
Simmons moved from Pasadena to Kingman with her children and then-husband in 2004 in what she called a "last-ditch" effort to reconcile.
"This was like the last go-around," she said. "I knew that."
The couple separated in 2005, but the divorce wasn't final until February of 2007. Simmons said she started writing a self-help book as she recovered but found she couldn't get into the idea.
"I wanted to write something so that people could laugh, they could cry, and they could learn something they could relate to," she said.
It took her under a year to write "Love Again," and though her publisher has categorized the book as a romance, Simmons said she prefers to think of it as more general fiction, since it contains many of the humorous, familial and religious aspects of day-to-day life.
"It's real life, these are the kinds of things that happen in our lives," Simmons said. "Although there are some pretty hot love scenes there, too."
Simmons wrote the book while working as an assistant manager at Kingman's Chase Bank. She said she plans to continue working there, but she also aspires to eventually write full time. "Love Again," after all, is only the first part in a planned trilogy, and Simmons has already begun work on the further romantic adventures of Cynthia Stewart.
"Now that I know I'm good at this and I love doing it, it's what I want to do for a living," she said.
Simmons will be signing copies of "Love Again" from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Feb. 21 and 22 at the local Hastings, 3153 N. Stockton Hill Road. For Clark Isaac's review of Sophia Simmons' first effort, see Page 5B in today's Miner.