Title: Going All In
Author: Stephanie C. Lyons-Keeley & Wayne J. Keeley
Release Date: 17 October 2017
Three mismatched suburban couples, Steve and Katie, Marty and Erin, and Scarlett and C. Thomas, have been neighbors and friends for years. During a pummeling Connecticut Nor’Easter, the members of the bored triptych engage in a friendly game of Texas Hold’em in front of a fire and over more than a few bottles of Merlot. The impromptu get-together eventually leads to the institution of alcohol-driven, bi-weekly poker nights.
One evening on a lark, someone suggests an alternate payout – instead of pocket change, the winner may choose a player (other than his or her spouse) with whom to spend the night. The proposition takes shape, but complications arise as these things will.
All too quickly, friendships are strained and relationships begin to crumble. Lies are told, truths are exposed, and feelings are hurt. In the end, can anyone bear the weight of this wanton self-indulgence? They are six fully consenting adults, and after all, it’s only a game. Or is it?
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~ About Author ~
~ About Stephanie ~
Stephanie is an award-winning writer, director, and producer. She has a Master of Arts in counseling psychology, was formerly a practicing psychotherapist, and director of a women’s work release facility. She currently is a professor of psychology at Western Connecticut State University and Naugatuck Valley Community College. The field serves as a big part of her creative endeavors.
Stephanie also is an award-winning journalist, writer, editor, producer, and director, and with her husband, Wayne, has penned countless works for film, theatre, TV and the literary world. Together they have created a production company, Someday Productions LLC and a highly successful “He Said/She Said” blog called Pillow Talking which may be found at somedayprods.com/talking. Most importantly, they have seven beautiful children between them.
~ About Wayne ~
~ Interview ~
Liz: Hello, thank you for this interview, how are you?
Stephanie Lyons-Keeley: Terrific and happy to speak with you, Liz!
Wayne Keeley: Ditto!
L.: It’s nice to hear. Can you tell us more about yourself?
S: I grew up in CT with my parents and two siblings. After college and grad school, I began my grown-up life in a career as a psychotherapist before moving to teaching at two local colleges and writing. I have four children and three stepchildren with my husband and co-writer, Wayne. We’ve been married for just over two years but have known each other about 10.
W: I’m from NY but moved to CT in 2005. I had pretty much a Leave it to Beaver kind of childhood. After getting scholarships to college and later to law school, I figured why not? It was a way to stay out of the job market as long as possible – at least the story I like to tell people! Litigating wasn’t really very fulfilling for me, so I pursued the entertainment business. Like my wife, Stephanie, said, I also have three children (and four stepchildren).
L.: My first question will be, when did you first start writing?
S: I’ve always been a writer at heart, but I didn’t start doing it professionally until I chose to freelance as a journalist when I moved from full-time work to the “mommy track” about 19 years ago. I wrote for several newspapers and magazines. When I met Wayne, we began collaborating on entertainment projects – for film, theatre, TV, and then both fiction and non-fiction books.
W: I started writing in childhood – short stories, poetry, etc. I had a legal thriller published in the ‘90s called Mahogany Row (Stephanie later did some edits and updates and it was republished), and I started writing many scripts for film, theatre, and TV as Stephanie said – some before we met and many more since we began working together.
L.: Do you remember the first story you ever read and the impact it had on you?
S: I really don’t remember the first story. I was a hugely avid reader, however, often winning contests like school or city “readathons” when I was a kid. I loved books – all books. I do know that my mother tells everyone I could read Dr. Seuss books on my own when I was about 3 years old or so – so in some ways I guess that set the stage for my love of reading. Later I would devour stories with well-written characters with whom I could empathize, like E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web or exciting mysteries like Nancy Drew. I also loved Roald Dahl books – James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Danny, the Champion of the World. I also loved anything by Judy Blume.
W: I don’t remember the first story either, but I do remember that my father was a voracious reader of literally everything. In trying to emulate him, I always had a book in my hands. Anything from a western to some esoteric subject matter.
L.: Why did you write this book and what are your expectations on its behalf?
S&W: The unique thing about Going All In is that it began as a screenplay. We thought we could delve so much deeper into the psyches of its characters and it was the first really BIG undertaking we set about doing as co-writers. A novel is more laborious than a script. As we wrote it, we sat side-by-side at the dining room table one summer with our kids and pets all around us. The coolest part for us is that it is very yin/yang. Very Mars and Venus. We write from our individual perspectives (male and female) but we also have this sort of collective consciousness – these individual threads that seem to join our brains. We love working together and hope that comes through to readers. We want people to connect with that and with our characters.
L.: What’s the story behind your latest book?
S&W: That is a story! Going All In in many ways is “ripped from the headlines,” so to speak! Wayne had an experience that was rather…eye-opening while playing poker at a neighbors’ house many years ago. It was before we met. This group of very bored people let the game get a bit racy and Wayne thought to himself (as a new transplant to the suburbs) Is this really what people do behind closed doors? It was so unlike him and in some ways really uncomfortable. We took that and ran – adding more layers and more bad behavior in our characters – in many ways it is a bit titillating but in truth, it is cautionary tale. Like opening Pandora’s box…The funny thing is, that since we wrote it, we’ve heard worse stories! The things people do! It’s really art imitating life!
L.: What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
S&W: I think we really both agree – It’s probably seeing your work come to life. Touching people. Allowing the creative juices to flow. In our case, it’s also working together. It is beautiful, the collaborative process. And then of course, being able to talk about your work and ideas with people who have read and enjoy them.
L.: What motivated you to become an indie author?
S&W: In great part it was simply wanting to get our work out there expeditiously. Traditional means are challenging – getting in with any of the “Big 5” – so we can’t say it was completely our preferred route, if truth be told. In fact, it’s a bit rough – pounding that pavement is hard. We do love marketing and are pretty good at it, but it is a lot of work – it’s like a full-time job and you have to keep it up to be successful. The rewards, however, are that you have a lot of control over your work and what happens to it.
L.: When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
S: Honestly we spend it together 99% of the time! We have seven kids between us so that’s a great deal of our time, too! We love to watch movies, explore cultural events, and see and read others’ work – it really keeps things fresh for us. We also have an entertainment blog called Pillow Talking where we review theatre, film, music, etc. and we conduct celebrity/artist interviews. Someday I’d really like to travel more, though!
W: Ditto to Stephanie!
L.: What are you working on next?
S&W: We honestly have so many projects – countless of them – in various stages of development. We’re working with an executive producer on getting several of our screenplays in front of some major studios, including the screenplay for Going All In which has won many contests through the years. We have a new novel that we’ve already batted around – “air penned” so to speak, and we need to get that to paper. Then there’s the another screenplay – a family comedy we also have conceived in the same way. We have several stage plays, one in particular we’re getting circulated. Plus, we’re so busy constantly re-tweaking the works we’ve already done – dozens that in this day and age need to be updated any time we send them out with all of the changes in the social world (pop culture and tech references are exhausting!). Lastly, we have a four-part horror novel, Deadraiser, that we’re really proud of. The first part of Deadraiser we initially published under our production company name on Amazon in 2016. Unfortunately, we soon found it hacked and essentially bootlegged for free all over the internet so we elected not to publish the other three parts until we find it a home with a traditional publisher.
L.: Can you describe your desk?
S&W: We’re in a transitional space right now, so believe it or not, we don’t have one at the moment! We often worked at the dining room table together – right now we mostly work in bed!
S: If we did have desks, I’m sure they would be pushed up against each other. I’d have coffee in the morning and later, a diet soda on mine. Oh, and candy!
W: I’d probably have a mess of papers (I still like writing long-hand from time to time), a cup of tea and a big bag of Lay’s potato chips!
L.: Thank you for the interview. Good luck with the book.
S&W: Thank you so much for speaking with us!
L.: Today we had an interview with Stephanie and Wayne, two fantastic authors! Check out their book @ Amazon