Wow, it’s been a scorcher here today! How about where you are? I think it is time to relax in the garden as the evening cools, with a nice glass of something icy and an interesting friend to chat to, so I’m delighted to be joined on the blog for Friday Night Drinks this week by author….Jen Gilroy.
Welcome to the blog, Jen, and thank you for being with me on this glorious evening. First things first, what are you drinking?
A chilled glass of pink zinfandel, a rosé wine from California’s Sonoma Valley. With its crisp strawberry flavour, it’s the perfect summertime tipple and also brings back lovely memories of a holiday in that area.
Sounds delicious, I will give that a try too. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
Since moving to Canada from England five years ago, I live in a small town in rural Eastern Ontario and ‘Friday Night Drinks’ isn’t as big a part of the culture here as it is in the UK. Instead, and to start a night out, I’d take you to our local ice cream stand, a favourite gathering spot on summer evenings. Serving an array of frozen sweet treats, this miniature red-roofed barn has been a community fixture and popular summer gathering place for several generations.
That sounds absolutely lovely. I’ve always wanted to visit Canada, and it sounds like a fabulous community you live in. If you could invite two famous people, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
Such a tough question and so difficult to choose only two! However, because we’re chatting about all things bookish I’d invite Margaret Atwood (born in 1939) and Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888).
Both have influenced me in writing and life and indeed Atwood has noted that Alcott’s most famous heroine, Jo March (from Little Women) shaped her own development as a writer.
Although from much different times, Alcott and Atwood are strong and inspirational women so I expect we’d have an interesting (and lively) conversation about books, women’s rights and roles in society, and perennial issues facing women as well as women writers.
So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
My next release, A Wish in Irish Falls, will be out in September and I’ve just finished checking the proof copy. It’s the second book in my Wishing Tree series but both books also stand alone. As a contracted book, I started writing it last summer and sent the full manuscript to my editor just before Christmas 2019 so have been working on edits since then.
Set in a small Irish-American town with a wishing tree where ‘sometimes happily ever after is only a wish away,’ I’m excited about sharing the book with existing as well as new readers.
Although it’s a romance novel, it’s also story about second chances in life, family and finding home too. With its wishing tree, a special tree believed to make wishes come true, the book has echoes of Ireland (one of my favourite places) and Irish tradition, and the veterinarian hero once lived in Ireland so has a hint of an Irish accent.
When you wish on a wishing tree, you don’t always get what you want. If you’re very lucky, you get something even better . . .
When Tara Lynch’s husband was killed on military duty, her happily ever after died too. Although she still wishes on her hometown wishing tree, she’s no longer certain it makes dreams come true. All Tara wants is to somehow move forward without the love and family of her own she’d counted on.
Walker Cavanagh’s the new veterinarian in town. After his fiancée’s death in a car accident he’s sure was his fault, he won’t get close to another woman to get hurt, or hurt her. As for wishes, they won’t bring back his lost love.
Yet, as Tara and Walker work together on a fundraising event to train service dogs for veterans, they find they have more in common than they think—and are soon more than a little hot and bothered.
With some wishing tree magic, can Tara and Walker face their biggest fears and open their hearts to each other . . . and find a new beginning in Irish Falls?
You had me at, ‘Irish!’ I, too, love Ireland and, as my OH can tell you, can be seduced by a hint of an Irish accent. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing/blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?
Although achieving publication after many years of working towards that goal was a special and proud moment, more meaningful to me is hearing from readers that something I’ve written has resonated with and helped them, especially at a difficult time in their lives. Irrespective of the number of books I publish or anything else I achieve in my writing career, that kind of reader feedback means the world to me and also helps me keep going when the ‘crows of doubt’ circle.
As a published author, my biggest challenge is reaching readers (although I’m most grateful for book bloggers like you who make that challenge easier) combined with navigating the ever-changing publishing landscape.
What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!
My first book was published in 2017 so my ‘big goal’ is made up of several smaller ones all focused on building a long-term writing career. I want to keep growing my craft as a writer, develop my readership and still be writing books that touch readers’ hearts for many years to come.
What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?
Alongside contemporary romance, I’ve also started to write dual timeline novels with historical and contemporary strands and am excited to be challenging my writing ‘muscles’ in new directions.
Since these stories necessitate historical research, I’m also enjoying exploring primary sources (using research skills I developed as a long-ago postgraduate student) and reading more historical fiction.
I adore a dual timeline novel, so I look forward to seeing that. I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
Given current circumstances and so many closed borders, I’d be happy to travel anywhere at the moment! In terms of favourite places that I’ve visited often, I can’t decide between North Norfolk (where I’ve had many happy family holidays) and the Wild Atlantic Way on Ireland’s west coast.
As for at the top of my bucket list, I’d love to visit New Zealand and, closer to home, Canada’s Arctic.
It sounds like you and I have very similar tastes in travel destinations. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.
My right foot is almost a full size bigger than my left one so buying shoes (which I love) has always been challenging. In order to make the right shoe fit, I have to stuff the left one with insoles. For that reason, I rarely wear open-toed shoes.
Wow, that’s tricky! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
I’ve just reread Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey (which won the RNA’s Romantic Novel of the Year Award in 2016) and continue to tell everyone how fabulous it is.
Since I can’t ever stop at just one book recommendation, and to add a bit of Canadian fiction to the mix, I’d also suggest The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. Although Montgomery is best known as the author of Anne of Green Gables, The Blue Castle is one of her few books for adults. With a gorgeous fairy tale quality, it’s my book equivalent of a hot water bottle on a cold night and my go-to comfort read.
1943, in the ruins of Blitzed London…
Stella Thorne and Dan Rosinski meet by chance and fall in love by accident. Theirs is a reluctant, unstoppable affair in which all the odds are stacked against them: she is newly married, and he is an American bomber pilot whose chance of survival is just one in five.
… He promised to love her forever
Seventy years later Dan makes one final attempt to find the girl he has never forgotten, and sends a letter to the house where they shared a brief yet perfect happiness. But Stella has gone, and the letter is opened by Jess, a young girl hiding from problems of her own. And as Jess reads Dan’s words, she is captivated by the story of a love affair that burned so bright and dimmed too soon. Can she help Dan find Stella before it is too late?
So many people rave about Iona’s book, I must pluck it from the TBR shelf soon! I am a huge fan of L.M. Montgomery. So, after our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
A perfect weekend for me would include uninterrupted time to read, a bookshop browse, Sunday lunch with my family and a country walk. In a perfect (non-pandemic) world, I’d also like to squeeze in a cinema trip or visit to a museum, gallery or historic property.
That’s sound busy but fun. Thank you so much for joining me on the blog tonight, Jen, it has been a huge pleasure to chat to you and I wish you great luck with the new book.
The first book in the Wishing Tree series by Jen Gilroy is called The Wishing Tree in Irish Falls is available now and you can buy a copy here. The second book, A Wish in Irish Fallswill be published on 16 September.
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.
Jen Gilroy worked in higher education and international marketing and business development before trading the corporate 9-5 to write contemporary romance and women’s fiction with heart, home and hope.
After many years living and working in England, she returned to where her roots run deep and lives in a small town in Eastern Ontario, Canada with her husband, teen daughter and a floppy-eared rescue hound. When she’s not writing, Jen enjoys reading, travel, singing and ballet. She’s also known for her love of ice cream, shoes and vintage finds.
Jen’s first book, The Cottage at Firefly Lake (and first book in her 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.
She’s a member of RNA and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA).
You can find out more about Jen and her books via her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Next week, I will be having Friday Night Drinks with author, Niki Pryce.