She was raised in rural Kentucky, many of her younger years spent without electricity or running water. But the deprivation never broke Jada Ryker… it made her stronger. It built her character. And as an adult and an author with seven published books to her name, Jada has frequently tapped into the experiences of her younger years for inspiration.
Beginning in early 2014, with the publication of her first work, Murder Takes a Dare, Jada has quickly made a name for herself in the mystery adventure genre. Her newest novel, Take the Body and Run, was released on September 20th by Kindle Press after Jada earned a publishing contract through Amazon’s Kindle Scout program, a platform that allows readers to determine which books should be published and promoted by Amazon. Take the Body and Run is an eclectic tale of a hunted woman who hides under a dead friend’s identity, a handsome lawman, a death doctor with a fat machine, and a cranky cat with a nose for crime.
Jada currently resides in central Kentucky with her husband and their cat, an animal shelter rescue. To learn more about her and her writing, visit jadaryker.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
How would you say your childhood helped to shape who you are today?
I never take life for granted. For me, absolute poverty meant not having enough to eat. I didn’t know people ate three meals a day until I started school. I appreciate my day job, my family, and my friends.
Growing up, who were your biggest creative influences?
My elementary school library was filled with books that were many years, if not decades, out of date. And of course, no racy books were allowed. I remember enjoying classics like Willy Wonka and Alice in Wonderland. I did write my own stories, but given my family’s extreme poverty, paper was at a premium. I did spend time scavenging at various dumps with my brothers. It was fun and exciting, because we never knew what we’d find.
When did you start writing?
In the fourth grade, I wrote a story about owning and running a camel farm. I drew pictures to go with it. Unfortunately, our house burned when I was a child. It was little more than a shack my father had built from discarded lumber, but it was home.
What inspired the story of Take the Body and Run?
I wanted to create a heroine who is feisty, yet with human frailties. Macey Malloy is the star of Take the Body and Run. She starts a new job, gets held at knifepoint, and meets a handsome doctor…all on her first day of work.
What was the feeling like when you learned that you’d won the Kindle Scout publishing contract?
I was thrilled, amazed, and honored. Since the Kindle Scout program started, they’ve only selected 187 books, beginning November 2014. They’ve received thousands of submissions, not all of which get selected to run the thirty-day campaign.
At the same time, though, I felt weirdly guilty and slightly embarrassed. I’m a member of a KBoards forum dedicated to the Kindle Scout campaign. People ask questions, share information, and give one another moral support. The campaigners on there aren’t just covers, descriptions, excerpts, and an “About Me” paragraph. They are people with hopes and dreams. When they offer up a beautifully written excerpt and great story idea and don’t get selected, it hurts my heart.
How have you evolved as a writer since your earlier works?
I’ve improved as I’ve self-published my books. My very first one was Murder Takes a Dare. The heroine works in human resources (like me) and grew up in poverty (like me). Marisa also struggles with alcoholism. I included humor in the book, along with a murder mystery and Marisa’s personal demons.
What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
I love Kelpie Dreams, by Steve Vernon. It’s a funny fairy tale with plenty of twists and turns. Here’s the description: “Meet Lady Macbeth—a high school librarian, ex-assassin, and part-time kelpie, whose mother wanted to name her Hemorrhoid at birth. Now she has to take on a Sea Hag—eight legs of Godzilla-ugly poured into a bucket full of meanness—with the help of a one-woman army named Rhonda, a 200-year-old Sea Captain, and a hunky lighthouse keeper who won’t admit that he’s dead as well. KELPIE DREAMS is a funny, action-packed, paranormal romance novel for folks who HATE to read romance novels.”
Do you believe in soulmates, the idea that there is one right person for you in the world?
Before I met my wonderful husband, I would have said no, I don’t believe in soulmates. After ten perfect years with him, I know he’s the other half of my soul.
If you could change one thing about the world or society, what would it be?
No child should have to live with hunger.
What are you working on next?
In Take the Body and Run, I present a hunted woman hiding under a dead friend’s identity, a handsome lawman, a death doctor with fart machine-will travel, and a cranky cat with a nose for crime. I’m working on a prequel. It’s a short story that will appear in an anthology with other Kindle Scout winners. In the book, I didn’t explain how Macey ended up with her cranky (and nosy) cat. The story will show in a fun way how they joined forces.