Thank you for interviewing me, Linda, and for reading and reviewing my books. I’m so glad you enjoyed Firefly Lake and am delighted to chat with you and your readers.
What motivated you to write about Firefly Lake?
When I started writing the first Firefly Lake book, The Cottage at Firefly Lake, I was living in England and, after a succession of rainy and cool summers, I longed for the sun-drenched summers I remembered from childhood and adolescence, many of which I spent at lakes, small towns and cottages like the fictional Firefly Lake, Vermont. The setting for this series is my homage to those memories.
I also wanted to write about second-chance romance because as a reader, that’s my favorite trope, and in parallel with the central romance, I was interested in exploring tangled family relationships.
The first book developed from these starting points, and themes of regret, healing and redemption run through both it as well as the Firefly Lake series.
Can you give any hints what your next novel will be about?
The third book in the Firefly Lake series, Back Home at Firefly Lake, comes out in the US & Canada on December 5, 2017. It’s a winter book and tells the story of retired NHL hockey player Luc Simard and historian Cat McGuire, two characters who were introduced in previous books.
I hope readers will enjoy curling up in front of a fire with this story of two opposites who have more in common than they first think. I loved writing about Firefly Lake when snow is falling, skaters glide across the frozen lake, and the little town is dusted with seasonal magic.
I read and reviewed both stories and notice that you have animals that are loved. Do you have any pets at home?
I’m pleased you picked up on the animals in my books, Linda. I’m an animal-lover, and pets feature in all my books to help characters grow, change and become the people they’re meant to be. They’re also great fun to write about!
My husband, daughter and I adopted a rescue dog earlier this year, and the lovely Floppy Ears (a Beagle/Walker hound mix) is my fitness pal, snuggle bug and writing buddy.
How is your pet like the animals in the story?
I’d written most of the Firefly Lake series before Floppy Ears arrived to bless my life, but a hound dog much like her makes an appearance in the first book in a new series I’ve just finished writing so stay tuned!
However, Shadow, the black lab who is the hero’s dog in The Cottage at Firefly Lake, is based on my cousin’s dog. A scene where Shadow comforts the heroine by lying across her feet is drawn from such an experience with the real Shadow in my own life.
In Summer on Firefly Lake, Pixie, a little Maltese, is based on a dog who lived down the street from me in my small town, right down to her cheeky personality and pink rhinestone collar!
As a young adult, I shared my life with a much-loved tabby cat. Although Primrose long ago went to the Rainbow Bridge, she lives on in Back Home at Firefly Lake in the guise of the heroine’s two cuddly “senior” tabbies, Darcy and Bingley.
Are there any other genres that you would be interested in writing?
I write in the area between contemporary romance and women’s fiction—romantic women’s fiction. Although there’s always a love story (and sometimes two), my books also explore other issues that impact women’s lives including relationships with family, friends, work and communities.
I love what I write but, alongside it and, at some point as my career develops, I’m also interested in writing single title women’s fiction.
What are some of your favorite things to do when you are not reading or writing? (interesting hobbies)
I enjoy singing and belong to a choir in my small town. Singing uses a different part of my brain than writing does so it helps me switch off from the world of my books, as well as everything else in my life.
I also look forward to movie nights with my husband and daughter and like watching ice hockey—either on television or live at my small-town arena. I enjoy ice skating too and hope to take part in some adult skating sessions at my local rink this winter.
What are some of your favorite authors and books?
My very favorite author is L.M. Montgomery, best known for the Anne of Green Gables series. I’ve read her books since childhood and they’re still part of my life today. Indeed, Montgomery’s Emily trilogy (Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs and Emily’s Quest) helped nurture my dream of becoming a published author.
Amongst contemporary authors, I’m a big fan of Robyn Carr, Kristan Higgins, Jill Shalvis, RaeAnne Thayne and Susan Wiggs.
What experiences from your own life do you base your characters or events on?
Although I never put people I know in my books, snippets of my own experiences do shape aspects of my writing.
In Summer on Firefly Lake, the hero, Nick, returns to his office late one night and catches his then wife in a compromising position with the senior partner at the law firm where they both worked.
Many years ago, I worked in the corporate world and returned to my office after hours having forgotten a file I needed for an off-site meeting the next morning. While passing an executive suite, I spotted a vice-president and director, both married to other people, in a similarly compromising position. I drew on that experience to create Nick’s backstory, and the shattered trust he must learn to overcome.
Charlotte (Charlie) the heroine of The Cottage at Firefly Lake is a foreign correspondent based in London, England. Journalist is one of my career paths not taken, and I lived in London at different times in my life. As such, parts of those experiences and, in particular, my persistent yearning for ‘home’ when I lived outside North America, shaped parts of Charlie’s character too.
In Back Home at Firefly Lake, the heroine is an historian and some parts of her experience are drawn from my own life as a teacher and researcher.
I also give fictional characters the jewelry, shoes and clothing I daydream about!
Is there anything that you want your readers to take away from your books?
No matter which one of my books they pick up, I’d like readers to come away with a sense of comfort, encouragement and hope.
Along with the importance of being true to yourself (something that took me a long time to learn and is now a recurring theme in my fiction), my books also explore the sustaining bonds of family and friends, and the healing power of love. Even against seemingly insurmountable odds, my characters make changes in their lives and find a happy ending.
I read feel-good fiction for that promise of a happy ending, and I want readers to take that same heartwarming feeling away from my books.
Is there something special that you would like to share with your readers?
Although I’ll never meet most of my readers in person, I want each and every one of them to know how special they are to me.
I appreciate them reading my books and taking the characters into their hearts.
It gives me great joy when readers connect with me on social media or through my website.
And I’m grateful for everyone who leaves a review, or tells me that my stories have made them smile or helped them during a hard time in their life.
Each year, I choose a word for the year and for 2017 that word is “kindness.” Thank you to all the readers who have shown such kindness to me in this my first year as a published author.
Connect with Jen
Newsletter sign-up: http://www.jengilroy.com/subscribe-to-jens-newsletter/