Today I’m conducting a session with…Jen Gilroy!
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Me: Tell me about an experience that had a profound impact on your life.
Jen: When I’d just started to write the story that eventually became my first published book, The Cottage at Firefly Lake, my mother was killed in a road accident as a pedestrian. While her death under such circumstances is not something I’ll ever “get over,” learning to live with it day by day and year by year has had a profound impact on how I live my life and see the world.
Life is short and now, more than ever, I remind myself to focus on what I value most—my family and friends, my writing and the small things that bring me joy. I also try to not “sweat the small stuff” as much as I once did.
Me: What personality trait of yours helps you most as an author?
Jen: Determination. I set goals and, despite setbacks, persevere to reach them.
Me: What personality trait of yours hinders you most as an author?
Jen: Perfectionism. Even with contracted deadlines, I find it difficult to “let go” of a writing project. If left to my own devices, I could tinker with a manuscript endlessly.If left to my own devices, I could tinker with a manuscript endlessly. @JenGilroy1 #AOTC #AmWriting Click To Tweet
Me:What was your high point as a writer?
Jen: Becoming a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart contest in 2015 was a life-changing moment and major high point in my writing life. It provided validation I then sorely needed and reminded me that I was indeed a “real” writer.
Moreover, it introduced me to a wonderful community of women who have since become supportive friends in both writing and life.
Me: What was your low point as a writer—a time when you questioned your path?
Jen: Before I found my voice in writing romance, I dabbled in many other genres. A particular low point was when I received a rejection from an editor for a young adult manuscript.
It was at a time when some publishing houses still requested submissions by mail and authors had to supply a stamped self-addressed envelope for a response. That particular editor scrawled a single sentence (in green crayon!) at the top of a form rejection letter to tell me he hated my heroine so readers would too!
I did indeed feel “crappy about my writing” at that point and, for at least six months, I didn’t write at all. Yet, in addition to consoling myself with ice cream, I read romance, Susan Elizabeth Phillips in particular.
At stressful times, romance and women’s fiction had always been my comfort reading, but then it was as if a lightbulb went on. Why didn’t I write what I most enjoyed reading?
When I did, I rediscovered my joy in writing, found my writing voice (as comfortable as a familiar pair of slippers) and now, many years later, my career. Although I didn’t think so back then, I’m now grateful to that editor. Green crayon and all, he inadvertently set me on a better and happier path in my writing life.
Me: How did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Jen: I wrote my first poem when I was in the third grade, and it was then that I consciously realized the power of language in helping me express my feelings, and how I saw the world and my place in it. I was already an avid reader and, from that point on, I wanted to be a writer too and see my name on a book cover.
Although realizing that dream took many years, and I had numerous detours along the way, I look back at my eight-year-old self with fondness and pride. She didn’t see the obstacles, she only saw a dream that she believed in. There’s still an important lesson in that way of looking at life for me today.
Me: What’s your life motto? Why does that motto speak to you?
Jen: “To thine own self be true,” from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Whenever I’m at a crossroads in my life, it reminds me to listen to that small but powerful inner voice.
Like many of us, it took me a long time to figure out who I am and what I truly wanted in life. However, when I act according to the principles and values I hold most dear—when I am true to myself—I’m happier and more satisfied in life, as well as writing.
Me: Who is your book boyfriend? Why?
Jen: Gilbert Blythe from L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series was my first and still favorite book boyfriend. The fictional Gilbert has many of the qualities I admire in a man and there’s a little bit of him in every hero I write.
He’s kind, loyal and behind his teasing good humor, he treats women with respect and fairness. He’s a man a woman can depend on for a lifetime, with a steadfast love that deepens over the years.
Me: Tell me about your contemporary romance, The Cottage at Firefly Lake.
Some mistakes can never be fixed and some secrets never forgiven . . . but some loves can never be forgotten.
Charlotte Gibbs wants nothing more than to put the past behind her, once and for all. But now that she’s back at Firefly Lake to sell her mother’s cottage, the overwhelming flood of memories reminds her of what she’s been missing. Sun-drenched days. Late-night kisses that still shake her to the core. The gentle breeze off the lake, the scent of pine in the air, and the promise of Sean’s touch on her skin . . . True, she got her dream job traveling the world. But at what cost?
Sean Carmichael still doesn’t know why Charlie disappeared that summer, but after eighteen years, a divorce, and a teenage son he loves more than anything in the world, he’s still not over her. All this time and her body still fits against his like a glove. She walked away once when he needed her the most. How can he convince her to stay now?
Me: Share with us a favorite paragraph or two from your newest release, The Cottage at Firefly Lake.
This snippet comes from early in The Cottage at Firefly Lake, soon after the heroine Charlotte (Charlie) returns to the small Vermont town where she spent childhood summers. It’s special to me because it conveys how important “home” is to Charlie, even though she’s denied her need for home and roots her entire adult life.
The quest for “home” runs through most of what I write, including the second book in this series, Summer on Firefly Lake, releasing in July. As expressed here, how Charlie feels about the fictional Firefly Lake sets the tone for not only this book but the three-book series, and it was inspired by a special place and happy childhood memories of my own.
“[Charlie] looked out the diner window. Dusty pickup trucks with canoes on top were parked next to shiny city cars that belonged to the summer people and the New Vermonters—people from Boston and New York who came to the Northeast Kingdom for the natural scenery and slower pace of life.
People who didn’t see her Vermont. The Vermont that was picking blueberries in the patch of tangled bushes behind the cottage. Catching fireflies in a cracked mason jar on summer nights when the moon bathed the dark hills in white light. And the sense of belonging and being at home in her skin Charlie had never found anywhere else.”
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Abbie Roads writes dark emotional novels featuring damaged characters, but always gives her hero and heroine a happy ending… after torturing them for three hundred pages. RACE THE DARKNESS and HUNT THE DAWN are available now! SAVING MERCY Book 1 in the Fatal Truth Series is now available for pre-order.