Romantic suspense author Ryshia Kennie is stopping by today as one stop of a 16-week virtual book tour for her newest novel, Fatal Intent.
At each tour stop (like this one!), Ryshia will award one commenter an e-book copy of From the Dust, a historical romance set in Depression Era Saskatchewan. The grand prize for the tour will be an autographed copy of From the Dust, a book unique bookmark, and a Region 1 DVD of “East of Borneo,” a 1931 b&w movie. For a chance to win, just leave your e-mail address with a comment below. For more chances to win, visit other tour stops (each Monday until May 6) and leave your e-mail with a comment at those stops.
Ryshia Kennie is the author of two published romances. From the Dust, is a romance set during the Great Depression. Her second book, Ring of Desire, was set against a backdrop of magic and mystery, in medieval England. An award winning author, her recent novels now focus on suspense and women’s fiction – always with a hint or even a dollop, of romance. The Canadian prairies are home where she lives with her husband and one opinionated Irish Terrier.
Welcome, Ryshia. Please tell us about your current release.
Fatal Intent is a murder-mystery tangled in a romance. When Garrett Cole sets off in what she sees as a potentially career setting moment leading a team of entomologists into the Borneo jungle, she doesn’t expect to be lost and face to face with tragedy only days later. But that’s what happens when her guide is discovered headless and she must get her team to safety without even a compass to guide her.
It is then that Aidan makes an appearance. Adopted into the jungle at an early age, he is a man with a foot in two worlds. Garrett is forced to trust Aidan for he is the only person who might be able to get them out of the jungle alive.
Aidan is immediately drawn to the feisty, small blonde woman who is obviously in charge of the rag-tag group of men. He’s also suspicious, the guide’s death screams foul play, and he can’t rule out Garrett or her team as primary suspects. But his method of investigation draws them further into the jungle and as hours lead to days, passion and betrayal become uneasy bed partners.
In a game of wills with two opposing agendas, Garrett and Aidan might find love but can either of them be trusted?
What inspired you to write this book?
The idea for Fatal Intent came out of a trip to Borneo where I visited an Iban longhouse. I remember walking up those worn, steep wooden steps from the river and seeing the verandah stretched out with mats and rice drying, the weather beaten old women looking at us almost with distrust or possibly disdain, and the human skull hanging from the rafter. Now the skull might have been there for the benefit of tourists but I like the explanation our guide offered, that it was the last head hunted over a hundred years ago. That skull and the longhouse were the seed of the story.
Aidan moved vines back, exposing his face. They only had to look in his direction.
He was so close he could have reached out and touched her. She was delicate, out of place here in the midst of this wilderness. Her skin, even beneath the sweat and exertion-stained flush, was fair. She wasn’t built to be here, she was too slight to survive, too weak, too . . .
She glanced up. A frown immediately seared her face.
“Who the hell are you?” she snarled.
He bit back a smile. She should have screamed. She hadn’t. All tiny limbs and fragile beauty, and yet she attacked first.
He let his gaze rove over the group, refusing to be corralled by her attack.
One of the men looked panicked, the others seriously stressed. He shifted his spear to his other hand and waited, taking the warrior advantage of time and observation. The silent often learned much about their enemy.
“Put that down.” She gestured to his spear.
His fingers loosened for a millisecond before gripping the spear tighter. Was she out of her mind? Green, innocent, and totally forest-illiterate, but she was feisty.
Feisty? She was seething, hot, absolutely pissed—about what, he wasn’t sure. Her anger didn’t make much sense. Nothing about this afternoon made much sense.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve been tossing a couple of ideas around and while I am finishing up a women’s fiction story that needed some revision, I’ve begun the first chapters of another romantic suspense. This story is set in North America in a place so mired with legend and haunted by real-life ghosts that it’s difficult to keep the current day mystery from sliding into the reality of the setting’s past. It’s a place that appears raw and barren until you begin to dig and then the layers never stop. One of those settings, kind of like the Borneo long-house and the skull of the last man hunted, where the setting inspired a story that just had to be written. And of course, my characters – well, they’ve got themselves in a world of trouble and while they don’t know it yet – they need each other.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t remember ever not wanting to write. But I think the true beginnings were in the later years of grade school when I was inspired by my English teacher who loved my first line, a historic barber shop where the barber slits the man’s throat – I believe that was the premise of that first line. After her encouragement, I was hooked and wrote in the margins of my notebooks all the way through school.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I begin early in the morning usually about six and write through the morning or as long as my dog will let me before he demands his walk. While the dog is slightly geriatric, we try to walk three kilometers on a good day. It’s in the morning when I can write with less interruption from family needing this or that. Through the rest of the day there’s always something going on and I write in the spaces around it.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m a sucker for slap me upside the head beginnings – usually something dire. Like a human skull in Borneo, or death by arsenic in From the Dust or water torture in Ring of Desire. While they all didn’t end up in the beginning sentence, they were all elements that in some way influenced the beginning of a story.
Another writing quirk is I keep a good luck charm or two on my desk. I have a little bronze Buddha that reminds me to take a breath, remain calm, and hang in – everything will work out. And in case the little Buddha isn’t enough I have a rock from Mount Vesuvius that a friend brought back from a trip to Italy. The rock isn’t a big piece of that powerful volcano but it reminds me that while it might be small, the volcanic blast of its origins was mighty.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I never thought I wouldn’t become an author. The only thing I didn’t know was how or when I was going to get published and if I could make a career of it. So I went for plan B. A brief interest in medicine led to nursing training where I discovered that other than textbook medicine, the only thing I was truly interested in was surgery – watching that is. In fact the few surgeries I attended, my interest was so apparent that at one point the surgeon had a stool brought in so I could peer over his shoulder while he performed abdominal surgery. It was fascinating but medicine wasn’t for me. I suspect even then that I was just collecting research for future stories. After that my education veered to administration and a career that allowed me to write in the evenings and build my writing toolbox.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
When you step out into your day, imagine that it isn’t just the mailman walking down the street mundanely delivering mail, that maybe he looks nervous, glances over his shoulder like he’s afraid of something. Imagine that your next door neighbor possibly has a secret, something that might change the entire neighborhood. Stories just aren’t in books – everyone has a story, which was very apparent when I researched my first novel, From the Dust and interviewed some of the survivors of the Great Depression. Those stories were as interesting as anything I could make up.
That said, no I’m not veering into non-fiction, not yet. Fatal Intent, other than the research to see the Borneo Jungle and create a believable setting, is completely fictional and I hope, if you have a chance to pick it up – that you enjoy it!
Ways to connect with me:
Thanks for stopping by today, Ryshia. Happy touring!