Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Author Interview - Ryan Jo Summers

Today, I am very happy to welcome to The Author's Den, author Ryan Jo Summers.

Ryan Jo, please tell us a little about yourself.
I write a variety of items. Before I sold my first book, I was writing articles and essays, and the occasional fun piece, for regional and national magazines and trade journals. After a few years, I finally sold my first novel, then my second, and third. After that, I was off and running! In May 2018 I left my full time, day job working security to focus solely on writing and running my pet care business which I’d been doing part time since 2016. My hobbies include working in and around my century-old home in the gardens and on many DIY projects. I have a houseful of rescued pets that want and need various levels of attention from me. Should I ever grow bored, I like to paint ceramics (though the pets provide me with plenty to repair) and I enjoy houseplants (and the pets provide me with plenty that are chewed up or knocked over) and sometimes I just need to get away and go to the National Forest nearby or simply gather with friends.

What does your writing space look like?
It is the SE corner of the house, the largest room in the house, and surrounded by windows and French Doors on two sides. I have my desk against one wall that allows me views of the porch where wild birds visit the feeders and the windows to my right. Directly in front of me is a 40 gallon aquarium where I can shift my attention when I need to regroup my thoughts. Along the other wall is a large aquarium and they both have bio-wheels which sound like falling water. It’s very relaxing in surround sound. I share the room with my pet Macaw, Taz, two bunnies, and any number of cats or dogs who want to visit. The cats tend to like my desk, because that’s where the cheese puffs are kept. There are roughly around fifty houseplants soaking up the sunshine from all those windows. The room itself has high, ten foot, wood beamed ceilings, so the entire space is bright, airy and decorated in a nautical, beachy theme. Finally, above the smaller 40 gallon aquarium are two bookshelves with my published books on them, to remind me on those bad days of what I have accomplished.

What do you like to do after meeting a word count/finishing a manuscript to relax and reward yourself?
Chocolate is my guilty pleasure. Any form of chocolate. So when I commiserate or when I celebrate, I break out the chocolate cake and ice cream. They both get slathered in chocolate topping and hot fudge and then a few dollops of whipped cream Maybe some caramel drizzle as well. And probably chocolate milk to wash it all down. Only about half a million calories, but I don’t celebrate or commiserate that often and it has to be something really worth it. Completing fifty words that day might be great, but I’ve save that treat for completing the whole script. In lieu of all that good stuff, I might go buy a special plant instead.

How do you come up with the titles of your books?
Whenever possible, I like titles that are inspired by nature. Sometimes they fit the storyline so well. Other times, and this is especially true with shorter stories that go into the anthologies, the title will come from a few words used in the story like some dialogue or whatever.

Do you work with an outline or just write?
The story usually begins with a cast of characters, a general plot and setting. Then as the characters develop, dialogue happens in my mind, as scenes happen. From there, I draw up a basic outline to start with. It will get updated as the story fleshes out and grows. I also just like to pick up where I left off and write and see where the story takes me.

Do you come up with your story setting yourself, or do you write about places you’ve been?
Whenever possible, I like to set my stories at the water; lakeshore or beach or ocean. I grew up around the Great Lakes, and lived on big inland lakes, so I like writing and reading settings on the water. Of course, sometimes that just won’t work, as in the case of “September’s Song”. Here, I needed a big city, and chose Chicago because I have a friend who lives outside there in a suburb. It seemed like a good place to start researching, and it worked.

Please share an enticing tag line of your current work with us.
--Ivey London lost her military husband, and finds him alive and amnesiac five years later. Armed with inexpiable abilities, Keegan is pursued by a forceful group determined to reclaim him. Ivey is just as determined to keep her late husband. Together, they uncover what happened to him, who is after him, and search for how to reclaim what they once were--husband and wife.

Where did the inspiration for this story come from?
A friend sent me an email with a series of randomly connected pictures. One was a photo of a young boy handing a Styrofoam container to a homeless man huddled under a blanket. I could see the man’s expression and the back of the boy. The photo spoke volumes to me and eventually became the seed for “September’s Song”.

Your novel is being made into a TV series/movie. Who’s in your dream cast?
No clue. I haven’t watched television in about nine or ten years so I have no idea who these ‘new’ stars are. Any names I toss out would be ‘dated’.

What’s your guilty writing procrastination secret?
I’m not sure I have one. I don’t have time to procrastinate because I am always so far behind in meeting deadlines and obligations, I have to catch as catch can on all projects. Consequently, I have several projects going at once and work on them as time allows.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
I bought an old house in 2014, (1920) so there is lots of yard work and DIY projects on my list. Victorian flavor, so adding more Victorian touches inside and out, and working on the many English inspired gardens.

Where are your favourite places to read and to write?
There is the Pisgah National Forest not too far from where I live. Whenever possible, I like to go there to get away, rejuvenate and meditate. Some of my best novellas and scenes—as well of intense journaling—have been written there. I also like to write just lounging on my front porch swing, bonus if it’s raining out. Most my reading these days is done at night, lying in bed, with my laptop opened to Kindle. Not my favorite, but it works. I read for a few review companies and have regular assignments each month to complete. Bedtime is usually the only time I can find to read.

What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
1) I am adopted, and around 1990 I met my birth dad. Around 2009 I met my birth mom. And just this year my half-sister tracked me down and turns out we live in the same state. 2) In 2014 I bought a Nissan. This is the first import vehicle I’ve ever owned.

What books might we find on your bedside table?
My tbr pile is pretty extensive. I like fellow North Carolinians Nicholas Sparks, Sara Gruen, and Sarah Addison Allen. I read fiction by Robert Crais, Linda Lael Miller, Karen White, and many more. Time Travel and water-themed books are a big draw, as are small-town stories. I like nonfiction about military war dogs, elephants, botany, zoology, anatomy, health/medical, and any kind of animal rescue/ welfare story. My Kindle has about 1400+ downloads I’ve yet to read. I see an advertisement for a book, think it sounds cool and download it. They tend to pile up just as bad in a Kindle as they do on my shelves.

Describe yourself in three words.
Dependable, old-fashioned, and creative.

What can we expect from you next? Are you working on anything new?
My dance card is all filled up. I’ve signed with Limitless Publishing and contributed a short story to their “Carnival of Strange Things” anthology. Edits are done, my story is called “Peeling Onions”, but I don’t have a release date yet. I am nearing the final stages of completion for another novel with Melange Books. It’s a time travel, pirate romance with a tentative release date of November of this year. I am super excited about the upcoming series with The Wild Rose Press. Contracts are signed for books 1-3, book 4 is in the writing stage, and books 5-6 are in the planning stages. It is hoped to have more books over the years. This is called the “Winds of Destiny” series and features sisters, brother, cousins, etc… all finding their true love in a small coastal town of Sweetwater Harbor, North Carolina. Lastly, I am writing two books for Sweet Promise Press. First is book # 5 of a six-book series called The Sweethearts of Country Music. Second is a book for the Gold Coast Retriever series. I’m not sure of the release dates on either of them, but I’m thinking either late this year for the Sweethearts book or next year and probably 2020 for the Gold Coast Retriever book. This is all in addition to the various articles I write for places like The Asheville Pet Gazette and The Cassette and others, plus blogging responsibilities and general book stuff.

Where can we find you and your books online?

Let's take a peek at Ryan Jo's book, September's Song.
Ivey London buried her husband as a war hero and moved on with her life. Five years pass and she learns of a secret chamber were special soldiers are imprisoned to recover. Further, one amnesiac soldier managed to escape. When her son begins to display unusual behaviors, she goes to investigate. All evidence points to finding her late husband. If it is him, back from the dead, she refuses to give him up again. 

Keegan London awoke in a hospital cell with no memories. Fleeing, he finds himself in a strange, unknown world, with no one to turn to. Until he finds a friendly Priest who runs a homeless shelter and he stumbles across the woman who claims to be his wife. While she can fill some gaps in his lost memories, she cannot explain his curious abilities. Pursued by someone determined to get him back, Keegan has few options but to trust the woman who makes his heart fire like a cannon. Ivey has dibs on him, but first they have to uncover who—and what--Keegan really is before they can recover what they had. 

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  1. Darlene, thank you so much for hosting me and letting me ramble on. Ryan Jo

  2. Ryan Jo, it was a pleasure hosting you and your book, and getting to know you!