Author Interview with Leslie K. Simmons


Welcome Readers to another installment of our author interview series. Today we have the pleasure of chatting with Leslie who just released her first historical biography.

JMR-Welcome to the Books Delight, Leslie. Tell our readers where you live, what you do for fun and what does the perfect day look like?

LKS- I’m an American Expat living in New Zealand for the last 20 years. I live on what is called a ‘life-style block’ which is basically enough land for a house, gardens, an orchard, and livestock, though my only livestock is our cat, Zero and the neighbor’s sheep. For fun I love to read, bake, come out of my writing cave to stay connected to friends, play boardgames with the familyand enjoy a sunset in the hot tub. Perfect day – a free trip to Disneyland. But other than that, taking in a new place or experience, enjoying a good meal that someone else cooked, and hanging with friends.

JMR-What’s your favorite historical time period? Why?

LKS-My favorite time period has shifted over the years. I started with the Revolutionary War, moved backwards to the Medieval/Renaissance period (European, of course), and ended up really becoming fascinated with Antebellum America because it was such a pivotal period in our history that still is relatively unexplored. I learned a lot things that really intrigued and surprised me that were going on during the 1815 – 1840s.

JMR-Who is your favorite historical figure? Why? If you could ask them one question, what would it be?

LKS-Too hard to choose one. Naturally, John Ridge’s name has to be mentioned. I don’t guess I wouldn’t have written a book about him if he didn’t really interest me, but I am most drawn to those who are lessor known outliers, people who were probably considered rebels in their time, people who will fall on their sword over an issue and were the early leaders in the social curve of change.

A question for John: Would you have done anything differently to achieve your goals?

JMR- How did you come to be a writer of historical fiction?

LKS- Shock and horror – I never set out to be a writer, although the only possible choice of genre was historical fiction because History and Anthropology have always been a passion. I taught myself to write fiction so that I could tell the Ridges story, a story I nurtured for a long time before any words went on paper. Now it seems I have discovered I can tell a story and write, so since I am retired this seemed like a good time for a new career.

JMR- We are all affected by the highs and lows in our lives. How has your lived life informed your writing?

LKS-I use so much of my life experiences when I write, things that may not be front of mind or seem important, emotions that I felt or senses I recall, or recollections long buried. Calling on these things adds texture and depth to the story, offer opportunities to explore shadowy memories, exorcise a few demons or just have fun.

JMR- Did you visit anyone of the places in your book? Where did you feel closest to your characters?

LKS- I’ve visited almost all of the major locations in the book, some places more than once. I was even lucky enough to visit many place in DC that are no longer open to the public.  There’s nothing like standing in the locations (even changed by time) to evoke the sense of place. The place I felt closest to the characters in RCRW was at Running Waters, the home John built, which is now a private residence. Also visiting his grave in Oklahoma. Those were both very emotional for me.

JMR- Leslie, tell us about your book, Red Clay Running Waters.

LKS-Red Clay, Running Waters is the little-known story of John Ridge, a Cherokee man dedicated to his people, and his White wife, Sarah Northrop, a woman forfeiting everything to join him. It is a timely and relevant saga about profound love, sacrifice, and the meaning of home in one family’s search for justice in the 1830s Removal Crisis. Readers will be propelled on a stunning journey across true events that leads to a haunting and moving conclusion.


JMR- What is the significance of the title?

LKS-The story is about division and internal conflicts within American and Cherokee/Native American society. These divisions were political, moral and cultural. Red Clay is the name of the Council Grounds the Cherokee relocated to in Tennessee because of Georgia’s oppressions. Chief John Ross, the majority faction leader for the Cherokee, conducted official business there. Running Waters was the name of John Ridge’s home and also the site of several Councils held by the dissenting Ridge faction. I felt that these two locations perfectly represented the conflict between Ross and the Ridges and would instantly tell anyone who knew this history what the story was about.

JMR-What projects do you have in the pipeline?

LKS- I’ve just decided who my next book will be about, as Biographical Historical Fiction is where I am happiest, but it’s very early days. All the research is still ahead, and then of course, there’s the writing, so it will be a few years yet before it gets talked about. I will hint to say it will be about one of the characters mentioned in RCRW and will stretch me back in time several decades, so new turf for me. Stay tuned.

JMR- Tell our readers how to find you on social media and the web.

LKS- You can find me on my website, Facebook and Instagram. I also regularly post to the American Historical Novels FB Group.

JMR- What question were you hoping I’d ask but didn’t?

LKS- Favorite Reads or favorite research rabbit-holesperhaps?

JMR- Thank you, Leslie, for stopping by. Your book looks really great! Readers, I’ve included a link to Leslie’s book below. Please be sure to check it out.


I will add a button and link to the book.


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