Getting to Know Ryan Jo Summers
Ryan Jo Summers writes romances that blur the lines of subgenres. She mixes contemporary with time travel, Christian, suspense, sweet, and paranormal like blending a fruit and yogurt smoothie. You can learn more about Ryan Jo and her books here.
Where did you grow up, and where do you live now? Tell us something a lot of people don’t know about your home town.
I was raised in northern Michigan. The Straits and Mackinac were always home to me. True fact, the only cars allowed in Mackinac Island are a few emergency vehicles. The ways to get around are on foot, by bicycle, and by horse. (my preferred way) Anther true fact, the ‘ac’ is pronounced ‘aw’. Being near the water was a super way to grow up. Now I live in the mountains of Western North Carolina. (since 2004) I miss the water, and lots of my stories are set on the water. However, the mountains have their own splendor and positive benefits.
What is your favorite part about writing Sweet Romance/ Cozy Mysteries?
Knowing the main characters will reach a happily-ever-after. No matter how many obstacles and detours I can throw at them, I know the ultimate ending for them, even when I am not sure how they will get there.
Who or what inspired you to become an author?
I’ve read since my earliest memory. I loved books. I recall when we made our quarterly pilgrimage to “downstate” to spend the day shopping, and usually a movie, I’d ask to spend time at the bookstore in the mall. I’d use my babysitting cash and buy a big stack of books to get me by until the next trip down. I’d been babysitting since I was nine, and interestingly I still have a lot of those cherished books.
When I was ten, a family situation turned me to the pen and paper. I wrote a story, with illustrations, to cope with what I was experiencing, not aware I was “writing”. I was ten and coping. Only later did I fully understand what “writing” was and connected the dots between it and reading. You mean people wrote this stuff and could make a living at it so it was all they had to do? Well, sign me up! From then on, I wanted to be a writer. And a veterinarian. I did end up being a vet technician for many years, but never achieved the veterinarian status I wanted to as a child.
If you weren’t an author, what would you be doing?
To be honest, I can’t see myself as anything but a writer. Even if I had never been published, I was always writing, always dreaming. I scribbled, wrote, studied, submitted, was rejected, and repeated this all through my teens and twenties until I got it right in my 30’s. No matter what else I did to earn a living, being a writer was next in line and I never gave up the quest. Of course, I might have chased the dream of being a stock car racer instead.
Do you have any pets? Please tell us about them!
Oh my yes. I’ve been likened to Noah’s Ark and Old MacDonald. Friends call me to have their grandkids come visit the farm and aquarium. Seriously! I worked in the veterinary field, rescue, and in pet care for many years, so the occupational hazard is you inherit unwanted pets. Also, the feline hobos in my neighborhood have discovered my address, so cats are always showing up. Friendly ones eventually go on to new homes, and the wild and distrustful ones stay on with me. Currently, I have six cats, one dog, two rabbits, one macaw, and many fish over two big aquariums. I also have doggie day care so there are frequently two or three more guest dogs hanging around any given day. I also foster for area rescue groups so there might be an extra rabbit or something. I do draw the line at spiders. I will foster a snake any day but never a spider. Nope.
Have you found your own real life happily ever after?
Yes, but not in the sense most people might. I was married in my 20’s, divorced in my 30’s. I am content to live vicariously through my characters now. It’s much safer for my heart. What I have found is contentment in blooming where one is planted. In 2014 I bought the cutest mountain cottage. It’s small, but I don’t need big. It’s a century old and packed with character. So I spend my spare time and dollars in fixing up the gardens and adding to the Victorian charm that’s already in the architecture. I have learned to be a real DIY’er. So I have my pets, my house, my writing, and I pet sit to keep it altogether. I have my friends and hobbies to balance life out. This is my happily ever after. It’s not perfect, but it’s living life on my terms, (mostly) and with the freedom to pursue my dreams. Now I make my own rules, I pay my own dues. I run wild and free, my life is all up to me.
What is one book that impacted or changed your life that you think everybody should read? Tell us about it.
Anything by Albert Payson Terhune. He wrote collie stories from around 1919 (first published one) through the twenties and into the nineteen- thirties. His kennel, Sunnybank, in New Jersey, was home to some of the greatest collies of the time. I discovered his books in my middle grade years, starting with “Lad, a Dog”. I was hooked and gathered more. I also became hooked on the collie breed because of him and Eric Knight’s ‘Lassie’. That childish infatuation at age 9-10-onward led to a fledgling career as a collie exhibitor, breeder, handler, and junior judger, which further led to a full submersion into collie rescue for ten years. (Talk about life-changing!) It has also led to a trip to Sunnybank in 2003 with two of my collies, “Ruffian” and “Kip”. And it led to me adopting my current collie, “Ty”, with all of his PTSD baggage…which led to me creating my first self-published blog-to-book in 2017 chronicling the challenges and triumphs of our first two years together. That courage inspired me to self-publish a women’s fiction novel in 2018. All this because I picked up a book with a dog on the cover as a child. Who knew? APT also wrote books about boxing and other topics, but he is best known as the Master of Sunnybank and for his collies, whose “Sunnybank” bloodlines are found in many collies today.