Jennifer Ryder is a bestselling romance author with five novels in the Spark Series published to date, and most recent release Losing Faith in the Surfers Way series.
She loves to write about boys on dirt bikes, detectives and strong females who aren’t afraid to fight for what they want. A born and bred Canberra girl, now living on a rural property in New South Wales, Australia, she enjoys the best of city and country. Her loving husband is ever willing to provide inspiration, and her two young cherubs, and sheep that don't see fences as barriers, keep life more than interesting.
And on with the interview…
ME: What is your favorite childhood book?
JENNIFER: Anything written by Enid Blyton.
ME:What is the first book that made you cry?
JENNIFER: It’s so hard to remember! I must admit though, my biggest ugly cry read is The Twenty-One by Lauren McKellar.
ME: Is writing your primary 'job' or do you have another source of income?
JENNIFER: Writing is a passion, but I also work full-time as a Government Investigator. Needless to say, my day job feeds my creativity. I also keep busy with kids sport #SoccerMum and living on a rural property there is always something to do.
ME: Do people around you know you write romance/erotica and what do they think about it?
JENNIFER: I’m quite open with the fact that I write romance and I love it. More often than not people are really supportive and think it is an amazing accomplishment to have published not just one book but several. I must admit though I do get tired of the comments from people who don’t read romance – “So you write mummy porn, huh”, “Like that Fifty Shades, huh.” I tend to combat these with “It’s the biggest selling genre world-wide,” and “You’d thank me if your wife or girlfriend read my books…”
ME: So true, even as a reader I get that... Do you believe in writer’s block? If not why not? And if so what suggestions do you have to start the juices flowing again.
JENNIFER: I do believe in writer’s block. It’s not a myth. There are some books that I’ve had to put aside because I wasn’t “feeling it”, and writing was like pulling teeth. Apart from that, sometimes the muse stops talking to you! For me the best solution is to take a break and read. I find reading in a slightly different genre to what I’m currently working on is the best to avoid unconscious bleeds into my work. Holidays also have a way of renewing that lust for writing and stirring up the imagination.
ME: Are you a plotter or fly by the seat of your pants kind of writer?
JENNIFER: I’m definitely somewhere in between. Sometimes I don’t know the ending of a book until I’m halfway through it. My ideas are usually quite random, and I take a week to nut out the general plan for the story. As I get further ahead in word count (usually around the 10k mark) that’s when I work in more detail on character development and structure.
ME: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
JENNIFER: It depends on the book of course. In my current WIP, my hero, Kyle Kingston-Moore is a commercial pilot and tandem skydive instructor. I’m lucky enough to have contacts in this field (and having skydived myself definitely helps), but I do take the time to research, which is so important in giving that authenticity that readers deserve. In other works, such as STING with Ryan being an undercover detective and Willow being in Witness Protection, I had a former AFP Detective assist me with some of the technical issues, and reviewed legislation relating to witness protection and privacy. This is all stuff I find fascinating, so research is not a chore; in fact, it’s one of my favourite parts of the writing process.
ME: Would you rather write standalones, standalones with connections to your other works, or multi book series with no true conclusion until the very end?
JENNIFER: As a reader and a writer I am big on series (says she who is working on book 6 in the Spark Series). I love giving secondary characters their time in the sun, and revisiting old characters. In fact, in TANDEM, which is coming early 2018, I revisit two favourite characters from two separate books in the series. I’ve received such kind (impatient) messages from readers saying they can’t wait!
ME: Where do your story ideas come from?
JENNIFER: Personal experiences, crazy dreams … sometimes my imagination runs wild. On a daily basis there are so many things that can prompt a story. Example, yesterday I was at a café for breakfast. A tall guy with dark hair, rocking the surfy look, was rocking a pram out on the pavement. He had this aura about him that immediately captured my attention. Is he a single dad? Was he minding his sister’s kid while she grabbed a coffee? Is he happily married? As a writer, when searching for ideas, asking the question “what if?” can really prompt creativity.
ME: Do you ever base your characters, events or locations on real people, events or places?
JENNIFER: ALL THE TIME, so beware! In terms of characters, sometimes I name characters after special people in my life, other times I create a character with similarities of a dear friend, but give them a different name. In terms of locations, all of my books are based in Australia. The Spark Series is set in Canberra, Sydney, Fremantle in Perth, with characters travelling to other small towns such as Griffith and Appin, NSW. In some books I have created my own fictional town (such as Willow Creek, in an upcoming release TBA). Another great example is Runaway Beach from the Surfers Way Series, which Lauren McKellar and I created together, to the point we even put together a “mud map” for our town.
ME: Is there a character in one of your books loosely based off yourself?
JENNIFER: Yes. Eevie from Spark. In saying that, it’s hard for my personality not to rub off on other characters in some way shape or form.
ME: What process do you use for selecting the names of your characters?
JENNIFER: In terms of names for my heroes, some of these I had in mind for my kids. Aidan Stone – well, that came about from Aidan from Sex and the City (drools). Ryan is a name on my mother’s side. As for girls, April just stood out for me as a strong, yet different name and Sophie was a girl I went to primary school with. In my current WIP, TANDEM, my heroine is Kalani, of Hawaiian decent. Her name means “The Heavens” which is fitting for the book.
ME: Who has been your most difficult character to write so far?
JENNIFER: I have my ups and down with each character, but Sophie from SWITCH was difficult to write. She just had the worst of luck. From being ripped off by an ex-fiance, which forced her to live on the poverty line, to parents who didn’t support her life choices (her sexuality), and on top of that she had to deal with an arsehole of a flatmate, Rocco De Luca. You’ll have to read SWITCH to find out if she ended up on top…
ME: Have you ever killed off someone who pissed you off in one of your books?
JENNIFER: No, but I have definitely channeled some emotions! Example, Sophie’s ex-fiance in SWITCH, otherwise known as “Fuckface”.
ME: What was your hardest scene to write?
JENNIFER: Dark moments are always hard to write, more due to the emotional toil they take on me. I always find myself in tears (which momentarily concerns my family until I tell them I’m crying over my fictional characters). I figure if I’m not feeling the emotion while I’m writing it, then neither will my readers. I still tear up thinking about certain scenes in my books.
ME: Does writing energize or exhaust you, and why?
JENNIFER: I have to say a bit of both! It has highs and lows like anything. The exhausting part is usually in the final re-reads. I quite often hit a slump around release, because a book has been front of mind for so long.
ME: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal, and why?
JENNIFER: Oh god, what a great question! As boring as it might sound, I’d have to say a dog. Maybe a Labrador. Patient, loyal and loves unconditionally (especially when fed :p).
ME: Cute. Now, for a little advice for the upcoming authors out there. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
JENNIFER: Finishing your first book will be one of your greatest achievements. Don’t get distracted with ideas with other books, FOCUS, keep going, and don’t give up!
ME: What are common traps for aspiring writers?
JENNIFER: Not learning the craft of writing. There is so much to learn about plot, character development, sentence structure, pace, tenses and writing effective points of view. I have completed a lot of online workshops, some through Romance Writers of Australia, and others through Savvy Authors.
Another trap (and I can’t express this enough), is not having independent beta readers. I have at least six for every book, which is invaluable in getting a broad range of opinions (after all, we all have different tastes). Whilst some feedback might sting, don’t take it personally. The best kind of beta reader gives you honest feedback, which in the long run helps get your book to become the best that it can be.
ME: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
JENNIFER: The first professional development conference I attended was the Romance Writers of Australia conference in 2013. It was invaluable as an aspiring author to connect with writers with a broad range of experience and attend sessions to develop my writing skills.
ME: Thanks for your time, Jennifer. We can't wait to see you at RTC2018.
If you’d love to hear more about upcoming releases Jennifer Ryder, you can find her here:
Ryder’s Spark Support Crew: https://www.facebook.com/groups/682328228498402/