by Brandon Mayer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Kemptville author Jen Gilroy is a small-town local resident who has recently signed a deal with two contrastingly big time publishers. Jen has signed a contract with Canadian romance and women ’s fiction publisher, Harlequin, for whom she is writing a series of western romance novels. She has also landed a three book deal with Orion Dash, a publisher described as a “new digital-first commercial fiction imprint of the Orion Publishing Group, one of the UK’s leading publishers.”
Two of the books written as part of the contracts are already released. “Montana Reunion” was released in January, and has been described by reviewers as having “likable characters…smooth writing voice, engaging layers and…sweet-and-swoony romance.” Another, called “The Sweetheart Locket,” was released just last week on March 17 in e-book format, and will be available in paperback format later this year. Beginning in Second World War England and extending to the 2020s, “The Sweetheart Locket” is “a story of love, loss and family secrets, as well as resilience, survival and hope spanning four countries and two continents.” In general, Jen describes her work as “romance and women’s fiction – uplifting books with heart and hope – about characters finding home, family and new beginnings – and finding themselves too.”
Jen grew up in Manitoba, but spent her summers with family in Merrickville-Wolford, where she has Irish roots dating back to the 1840s. She lived in England for years before settling in Kemptville in 2015 with her husband, teenage daughter, and rescue hound.
Asked how she got into writing, Jen told the Times, “I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. Before university and adult life intervened, as a child and teenager I loved writing stories and dreamed of seeing my books on library shelves. As an adult, I still wrote but it was non-creative and for work—corporate speeches, marketing materials, academic articles and so on. In 2009, after some big personal losses, I realized that by losing my creative writing I’d also lost part of myself. If I wanted to write and publish creatively, I had to make a place for it in my life. Around my family and a full-time job, I started writing with the aim of traditional publication and joined various professional organizations to learn the craft of fiction writing. Several unpublished manuscripts later, I signed with a literary agent who got me a three-book deal with a US publisher. My first published book, which I started to write in my lunch hour at my then-day job, came out in 2017.”
In terms of her influences, Jen has many. “For me, and I suspect most writers, inspiration is everywhere,” she told the Times. “Each book I write starts with a ‘what if’ question, and I keep an ideas folder with photographs and newspaper and magazine articles that spark my interest. I’m also an attentive listener (my family would say eavesdropper!) to conversations when I’m out and about. I never leave the house without a notebook and pen in my bag because although I don’t put people I know or personal experiences in my books, writing inspiration can strike in the most unlikely places. Reading widely inspires me too, and seeing how other authors craft stories helps me become a better writer.”
Jen is a member of the North Grenville Writer’s Circle. All of her books are available to borrow from the North Grenville Public Library, and can be purchased on Amazon.