Alumna finds success in romantic suspense

By Costa Maragos Posted: February 11, 2016 6:00 a.m.

Ryshia Kennie, is the author of Suspect Witness, a romantic suspense novel. She recently signed a new book deal with Harlequin.
Ryshia Kennie, is the author of Suspect Witness, a romantic suspense novel. She recently signed a new book deal with Harlequin. Photo by Trevor Hopkin - U of R Photography.

Ryshia Kennie has always wanted to be a writer.  

The U of R grad has just had her sixth book published but her latest one is the most special. Her romantic suspense, “Suspect Witness” was recently published by the romance publishing giant, Harlequin. The book is now on sale and just in time for Valentine’s Day.

“I’ve been celebrating since the day I got the call,” says Kennie, recalling the moment she received the news from Harlequin. “At last, the stories I love, the romance and intrigue set in distant or exotic settings have found a home.“

Suspect Witness is set in Malaysia. Part of the story setting reflects some of Kennie’s own experience while travelling in that country.  She takes the hero and heroine half way across the world, through Malaysia and to the Gunung Mulu National Park and their massive caves.  

Ryshia Kennie book cover
Suspect Witness can be purchased online and in bookstores. Visit ryshiakennie.com for more details.

“My stories are born out of my love of travel and seeing different cultures and places. It started with me long ago with our family vacations. Every summer my father drove us to various locations across Canada and the United States and even a tiptoe into Mexico,” says Kennie who lives in Regina. “As an adult I’ve ventured further afield and along the way I’ve filled travel journals with encounters and experiences.”

Dodging bullets, fleeing undercover and outsmarting the most lethal of criminals might be fiction but writing about it is a long way from Kennie’s days as a U of R student.

She loved English and Kennie recalls a professor urging her to go for her degree at that time. But with few job prospects in English in the short term in those days, she opted for Administration.

She graduated with both a Certificate in Administration and a Certificate in Administrative Development from the U of R. That decision led to a successful career in the provincial government.

“That was great but I always wanted to be a writer. When my first book was published, my co-workers at the time pointed out to me 'finally we always knew that’s what you wanted to do," she remembers.

She had a second book published before leaving her government job to write full time, in 2010.

In 2011, she was the winner of the City of Regina Writing Award and in 2013 she was a semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Awards.

“What I like about the romance genre is that it can take you anywhere. To any time period. To any kind of situation. It can scare you in suspense, take you back in time or forward in time. But in the end there’s always one guaranteed resolution. You know the couple will end up happy. There’s the promise that there will be a ‘happily ever after’ known in the romance business as an HEA," says Kennie.  

Romance writing is serious business. In Canada, the romance fiction genre accounted for about 16 per cent of ebook and hard copy book sales in 2014, according to Booknet Canada

That’s good news for Kennie who has more, what she likes to call tales of adventure threaded with romance, books on the way under the Harlequin banner. She’s been signed to a four book deal which will be a series in the romantic intrigue line.

“I’m thrilled and excited to be creating new stories with new characters who will be whispering their stories in my ear shortly,” says Kennie.

We asked Kennie for advice to any writers out there, particularly to students taking English classes.

“The key thing is you have to determine what you want to write about and what you are interested in. But once you decide on your genre then look for people or classes that can support you in that area of writing,” says Kennie. “Write every day and don’t give up.”
 
The U of R Student Success Centre offers free writing support to students at all levels and in all disciplines. Please visit here for details.