Happy Monday, book friends!
How have you been doing in these self-isolation times? Are you leaning on books more than ever for escape, connection, community? I know I am!
Today I’m thrilled to have fellow Ottawa valley writer and friend Jen Gilroy on the blog. I’m a big fan of Jen’s work, so I’m excited for you to discover it too. I recently finished Jen’s latest, The Wishing Tree in Irish Falls, and it was just what I needed – a book about community, family, and second chances. (Check out my GR review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2987951769) This was the book that eased me back into reading after completely losing my focus with the stress of the pandemic. I can’t wait for the sequel! More about it below!
Thanks so much for taking the time to visit with us, Jen, and congratulations on this wonderful, heart-warming book!
AK: Tell us a little about yourself.
JG: I had a career in higher education, international marketing and business development, but it wasn’t until some major life losses that I rediscovered and pursued my childhood dream of becoming a writer. I now write contemporary romance and women’s fiction—stories with heart, home, and happy, hopeful endings—the kind of books I also like to read.
After many years living and working in England, I returned to where my family’s Irish roots date to the 1830’s and now live in a small town in Eastern Ontario, Canada that is much like the fictional communities I write about.
I share my family life with a tech guy husband, teen daughter and floppy-eared hound. When I’m not writing, I enjoy reading, ballet and singing. I’m also a fan of ice cream, shoes and vintage finds.
My first book, The Cottage at Firefly Lake (and first book in my Firefly Lake series), was a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s (RWA) Golden Heart® award in 2015. It was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) Joan Hessayon Award 2017. Amazon named my third book, Back Home at Firefly Lake, a ‘Best Book of the Month: Romance’ in December 2017.
I’m a member of the RNA and Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA).
AK: What’s the premise of your book?
JG: For me, The Wishing Tree in Irish Falls began with a question: What would it be like for two people who have given up on wishes to live in a town with a tree celebrated for granting cherished hopes and dreams?
From that premise, the book grew into a feel-good story about hope, family and second chances in life, as well as love.
AK: What inspired you to write it?
JG: I first heard about wishing trees on a trip to Hong Kong for my then day job. These special trees are believed to grant the wishes of those who tie them to the tree’s branches.
I write uplifting, hopeful fiction so as a story nugget percolated, I researched, read and learned more about wishing trees, discovering they span many countries and cultures, not only in Asia but in the UK and Ireland too.
With its Irish heritage, my fictional Irish Falls, a small town in New York state’s Adirondack region, was the perfect place to have a tree that pays homage to the power of hope and wishes—and transforms the lives of people who have given up on wishing.
AK: What authors do you admire and/or have influenced your development as a writer? Please feel free to add specific books, we love recommendations!
JG: Childhood reading had a huge impact on the writer I am today. In particular, L.M. Montgomery (best known for the Anne of Green Gables books) and Louisa May Alcott (Little Women) helped shape my interest in writing about women’s lives, family relationships and communities.
I discovered Jane Austen’s books as a teen and Persuasion is one of my ‘go-to comfort reads’ and a reminder that no matter how bleak circumstances may seem, second chances are always possible.
I’ve also been influenced by Carol Shields (The Stone Diaries) who wrote about ordinary life in extraordinary ways, Kristin Hannah (The Great Alone is one of most emotionally-wrenching books I’ve read in the past few years), and Susan Wiggs (her latest is The Oysterville Sewing Circle). These authors write about women’s experiences and families, friends and relationships in different ways, but their fiction makes me think about life choices, character development and writing craft in ways that continue to shape my own work.
Other authors I admire include Sarah Morgan (her newest, Family for Beginners, is out in North America in May) and RaeAnne Thayne (I’m currently reading The Cliff House) because whether in romance or women’s fiction they always deliver uplifting and hopeful reads. That’s something I need in life and it’s also the kind of fiction I write.
AK: What are you working on now?
JG: I’m currently working on edits for A Wish in Irish Falls, the sequel to The Wishing Tree in Irish Falls, which comes out in September 2020.
I’m also writing two other books at different stages. They’re both women’s fiction with romantic elements and are dual timeline, inter-generational stories with an emphasis on mother-daughter and other family relationships.
AK: What question do you wish I had asked, and answer it!
JG: How are you coping with life and writing during this time of ‘lockdown?’
When you invited me to guest on your blog only a few short months ago, we couldn’t have imagined what life would now be like.
At this scary and uncertain time, and when almost everything about day-to-day life has changed, I’m trying to focus on the positives, be grateful for what I have and find joy in small things.
I’m also trying to be kind to myself and recognize when I need self-care whether that’s time with a good book, a nap or a walk in the spring sunshine (while social distancing, of course).
In terms of writing, and because with my family all at home I don’t have the uninterrupted time I once did, I’m setting small goals and rewarding myself for what I do achieve rather than being hard on myself for not being at full productivity—or concentration.
I wrote about my ‘lockdown life and writing’ in a recent blog post here. https://www.jengilroy.com/life-and-writing-in-lockdown/
Kindle edition, October 9, 2019
Paperback edition, April 12, 2020
Sometimes happily ever after is only a wish away . . .
There’s a wishing tree in Irish Falls. The bits of paper tied to its gnarled branches hold the hopes and dreams of everyone in town . . . except Annie Quinn.
Single mom Annie has spent years rebuilding her life and trying not to have regrets. After giving up her dream of music stardom, she returned to her Adirondack hometown—and convinced herself she’s content with a simpler life.
The last thing she needs is a man to remind her of the heartbreak she left behind.
A divorced dad, Seth Taggart used to be a successful LA songwriter. But now his reputation is in tatters, he’s burnt-out, and estranged from his adult son. Inheriting a small-town radio station just might be the do-over he needs.
Although he always planned to go back to LA, when working with Annie turns into sharing music and more, Seth realizes second chances—and home—are where he least expects.
Where To Get Your Copy:
Amazon US (Free with Kindle Unlimited): https://amzn.to/34cswFt
Amazon Canada (Free with Kindle Unlimited): https://amzn.to/3dXdSWY
Amazon UK (Free with Kindle Unlimited): https://amzn.to/39KlyZu
Barnes & Noble (paperback only):
Let’s Get Social:
Soul Mate Publishing: http://soulmatepublishing.com