The other day, I had the pleasure of speaking with Anne Lucy-Shanley, a fellow author friend of mine and did a short interview. Take a look…
Jemma Ryken began her voyage into writing at a young age. She is often found with her nose in a book or her head in the clouds. Having discovered that she is more in love with the idea of love, she dove headfirst into the romance genre. After taking courses in journalism she came to the realization that writing about soul mates and unbridled desire is her purpose.
In her spare time, Jemma can be found on the ice with a hockey stick in her hand, binge-watching the next series from her thoroughly cultivated list, or singing along to an expansive array of music. She leads a simple and wonderful life as a mother to a very curious little boy and has lived in Ontario, Canada her whole life.
Together Evermore is the first of her stand-alone Entangled Fates series. It’s a second chance small-town romance featuring a single mom. She’s currently working on Raj’s story for book two which is at this point still untitled. She’s hoping to make it at least a five-book series.
Q: What was your goal when you started your writing journey?
J: When I first started writing this story, I had one goal in mind—make it to “The End.” Everything I’d written before had a way of fizzling out, whether I no longer enjoyed what I was writing or I couldn’t find my way out of a plot hole.
Q: Did you ever consider using a pen name? Why?
J: Jemma Ryken is a pen name I created so my family wouldn’t know I write explicit books. It quickly became a moot point as I was so excited and proud to have signed with eXtasy Books that I ended up telling everyone anyway.
Q: Were there any standout moments for you as a young writer? Any moments where you were blown away by writing, or were so drawn into a book?
J: In grade 12, my high school offered a Writer’s Craft course. This course set me on the path of writing more seriously because it put me in the mindset of “Holy shit, I’m actually good at this!”
We had an assignment to write a short script which would be read out to the class and everyone would choose their top five favourites. In a class of twenty or so, my script was voted into second place. Our scripts were then given to the drama department to act out as one of their assignments and seeing my work played out on stage actually brought me to tears, I couldn’t stop grinning which got me weird looks because my story involved suicide.
Q: What is the most important learning tool/company/site an author can use?
J: Any kind of thesaurus! I recently bought two new ones which focus solely on emotions and “naughty” words. For someone who constantly worries about overusing the same word or phrase, they’ve been a tremendous help.
Q: How do you name your characters? How important are character names to you? How much significance can they hold to the whole story?
J: I put a lot of thought into my main characters’ names (or the side characters that will go on to have their own story). I look for names I think are unique and interesting, and try avoiding using names of people I know. The rest I kind of just throw together while trying to avoid having them all start with the same letter. Without meaning to, I had maybe six different characters whose name started with an R, and let me tell you it got quite confusing.
Q: How do you come up with book titles? Is it something you know from the beginning, or do you figure it out once the book is written?
J: I always wait until the book is done, but I try to take a line from the book that really caught my attention and use that for a title. If, by some miracle the title comes to me first, I’ll find a way to write it into the story.
Q: Do you have a specific font you like to write in?
J: I used to be all for Times New Roman, but my publisher’s formatting consists of Book Antiqua so I’ve set that as my default. But when it comes to a note or something the character would write, I go a little crazy with fonts trying to visualize my characters penmanship.
Q: How often (if at all) do you feel “imposter syndrome”? What makes you feel this way, and how do you get past it? Do you think there will be a time you no longer feel this way?
J: All the fucking time! Hell, I’m feeling it right now. While I doubt the feeling will ever go away, I think I feel it so strongly right now because of how green I am. Yes, I’ve been writing for years, but this is the first ever piece to make it out into the world and I keep wondering if it’ll ever feel real or if I’m just dreaming, about to wake up to a cold and harsh reality.
Q: What is something that’s important to you that shows through your writing? Are there any political or social messages that you include in your books?
J: In every book I’ve read, characters are getting drunk or having a drink to “take the edge off.” While I won’t dive into why I started personally, I can admit I’m a pothead and I’ve given most of my characters the same vice for varying reasons. Many writers have told me this will alienate a lot of readers and I tell them all the same thing: Your drinking is my smoking.
By creating these characters, I’m trying to normalize the use of marijuana since there’s a large and negative stigma around it. I’m not a wine mom, I’m a weed mom.
Q: What’s your favourite quote from the book?
J: There’s a scene toward the beginning where Claramae drops Julian off at camp, it’s a big change for them both and she can see how nervous he is. Julian tells her that he wants to wait until next year to go, so Claramae tells him what her grandfather used to tell her.
“Not everyone will like you, and that’s okay. It’s better to have a close few than a far many. Quality over quantity.”
Q: What was the original inspiration of the book? Was there a specific moment you can recall where the idea popped into your head?
J: So, I have one of those exes who reaches out at random times over the years saying how they’ve changed and we should try again. I was never dumb enough to fall for his bullshit, but it did get me thinking about what it’d be like if he actually had changed and gotten his shit together. One thing led to another and next thing I know the story had taken on a life of its own. I have added many bits and pieces from our time together and my life in general.
Q: Do you have author friends? If so, how much of your interactions are writing or reading related?
J: I have a handful of author friends, one of which is also signed with eXtasy, so we’ve teamed up to create a reader group called Saucy Society and we’re always bouncing ideas off each other. Most of our interactions are about current projects, promoting our respective books, or trying to figure out how to set up the damn newsletter HAHA
Q: Are you working on any future releases you can share with us now? What’s the general idea of the book? What kind of main character will we be following?
J: Book two of the Entangled Fates series follows Raj from Together Evermore and he meets an intriguing woman. Being a single dad, Raj isn’t looking for anything more than a good time, but Naomi finds herself in danger and Raj is there to help. While he does, he actually gets to know Naomi and is forced to rethink everything he thought he knew.