Interview: Jennifer Ryder w/ SPARK

I was lucky enough to work on Spark, a novel by Jennifer Ryder. Having met this lovely lady in person and spent countless hours bonding with her over writing-related drama, I am proud to call her not only a talented author who I was lucky enough to edit, but a friend.

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
About eighteen months ago. I’d always been a big reader, but never thought I would write. Inspiration struck, and I couldn’t stop once I started putting the words down. Spark became an obsession, festering inside, characters taunting me in my sleep, until I got it out.

How long does it take you to write a book?
Spark took about eight months to finish, but I wasn’t writing every day (as I also work full-time). Once I got further into the book I got more serious about it. I went to workshops and did online courses, such as ‘how to write a convincing male character’, ‘writing sizzling sex scenes’ and ‘showing not telling’.

Other books in the series, I have been able to finish a first draft within 6 weeks. It’s the editing and polishing that then takes the time, as well as incorporating any changes as a result of beta reader feedback (which might I add, is invaluable!).

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I also work full-time, so I manage to get in an hour in the morning, while the kids are having breakfast and arguing over lost shoes, and squeeze in a couple of hours at night when everyone is asleep. Weekends I can spend a bit more time with my writing, but it’s never for long stints (unless hubbie is away fishing!).

When I’m in writing mode, I try and aim for 1K or more words a day, but if I’m getting along with my characters, I can manage a lot more. It all depends! Some days I can barely manage a couple of hundred, but it’s better than no words at all.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Writing can be a lonely business, so I don’t know if the way I write is different to most people. I am happy to share with you something I find helpful. When doing the final edit, I find it easier to print out the MS. I grab a couple of different highlighters, and assign a colour to each character. I highlight each character’s dialogue and review one by one. It just makes sure that the way they speak is consistent, and not too similar to other characters. It also means I can give each character a few turns of phrase that only they use.

How do you plan to publish?
I plan to self-publish the Spark series, but I have other stand-alone books I’m working on which I may consider submitting to a publisher. At the moment, indie publishing feels right for me. I’m surrounded by so many other supportive indies, and with self-publishing I get more freedom.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Personal experiences were a big source of inspiration for my first book, Spark, but anything can inspire me. After a girl’s weekend away in Melbourne recently, within a week I had a new book plotted out. It was an awesome weekend! A big day at the horse races, an Irish pub and shenanigans at night! Did I mention a sexy bar owner?

I also read a lot (at least two books a month), and have a few favourite TV shows. Right now I’m hooked on Chicago Fire, but my favourites are Revenge, Grey’s Anatomy and Arrow. And a warning to friends and family … I listen intently to everything you say! Where else do I get inspiration for my dialogue?

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
That would be giving away my age! I started writing Spark eighteen months ago, and I’m in my dirty thirties!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Read! My Amazon library is bursting with so many good books, and quite it helps motivate me in my writing. It also helps when I’m a bit burnt out. I’ve completed a couple of 50K in 30 day challenges (like NaNoWriMo), and they have been tough! After doing one of these, I have to take a break otherwise I’d go insane! This is where I take some time to relax, and nine times out of ten, turn to a good book.

Apart from reading, when we can we take the kids down the South Coast of New South Wales. Jervis Bay is a particular favourite spot. We also love to entertain, as we are big foodies!

What does your family think of your writing?
My family are very supportive, although my mother understands that she may never read them! My seven-year-old daughter Ashlee is my biggest fan, telling anyone and everyone that I write books. It’s adorable, but she knows she has to wait until she’s eighteen to be able to read them!

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
My own personal strength. Writing is a mental (and physical) challenge, and giving up is SO easy. But when things get hard, you take a break, and come back and give it another go. Just finishing the draft of my first book was a huge accomplishment in itself. A lot of people start out, but never get to that point. The feeling of finishing it, was worth the late nights, tears and heartache! No really, I make it sound like it was torture, but it was just something I had to finish. I tend to be a person to start a hundred things and not follow through.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I had a great response from the short story Heart Rate. Readers loved that I could tell a story with just 2,000 words, and also wet their appetites! It was certainly a challenge with such a small word count, and I love the story. Oh, the steamy things that happen behind closed doors in offices.

Do you like to create books for adults?
Absolutely! I get a real kick out of people reading my work

What do you think makes a good story?
Relatable characters, a unique storyline and a good flowing writing style. I love a book that you can’t put down (the pacing is just right), and you don’t care that time passes by, because you are inside the book! This kind of book tends to give you a book hangover, but it’s worth it, every time.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
A hairdresser, a panel beater and a police officer. I really couldn’t make up my mind! As a child I did have a vivid imagination, which got me into plenty of trouble. I was good at telling stories!



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