We are delighted to welcome Jen Gilroy to the blog today to tell us a little about her latest release, A Wish in Irish Falls.
Thank you for hosting me on the RNA blog. A Wish in Irish Falls (which released in Kindle format in September 2020 with the paperback to follow in early 2021) is the sequel to The Wishing Tree in Irish Falls, although both books also stand alone. It’s a contemporary romance set in the fictional Irish Falls in the Adirondack Mountain area of New York state in America, a small town celebrated for a wishing tree believed to make hopes and dreams come true.
In A Wish in Irish Falls, Tara, who co-owns her family’s bakery, and Walker, the new veterinarian in town, are both grieving huge personal losses. Yet, with a little wishing tree magic, can they face their biggest fears and open their hearts to each other to find a new beginning?
Along with a central romance, it’s a heartwarming, feel-good story about second chances in life and family. Especially at this difficult time, I hope the story brings readers hope, escape and a bit of encouragement.
What was the inspiration behind your book? What prompted you to tell this story?
I discovered ‘wishing trees’ on a long-ago trip to Hong Kong for my then day job and was fascinated that these special trees, believed to make wishes come true, are significant in many cultures, including Ireland, which is one of my favourite places.
I wondered what it would be like for people who’d given up on wishes to live in a town with a wishing tree and both A Wish in Irish Falls (and the previous book, The Wishing Tree in Irish Falls) developed from that premise.
I also wanted to tell stories about life in a small Irish-American town as a way of honouring the Irish diaspora which, in a Canadian context, is from where I also trace my own family roots.
And not least, in my Wishing Tree books, I tell the kind of warm and comforting stories that I like to read that give readers a sense of visiting a cosy place that feels like home.
Without giving too much away, what was the hardest part of the book to write?
In A Wish in Irish Falls, Tara, the heroine, is a military widow, and Walker, the hero, lost his fiancée in a car accident he believes is his fault, I wanted to make their grief journeys authentic (without being maudlin) whilst still giving both characters the courage to step out of their comfort zones to make a fresh start.
Although it was hard to dig deep into complex emotions and painful experiences, including some of my own, it was also rewarding and helped me grow as both a person and writer. And as reviews come in, I’m heartened that grief and recovery have resonated with readers, including those who have been bereaved themselves.
Where did your research for the book take you?
A Wish in Irish Falls is a contemporary story but it still required research and for me, researching details that will help make a story real to readers is one of the most enjoyable parts of the writing process.
Since the heroine, Tara, is a co-owner of her family’s bakery, I had great fun spending part of a day at one of my local bakeries and that experience shaped much of the fictional Quinn’s Bakery. In addition to learning about the work involved in running a small-town family bakery (everything from the daily routine to batch sizes, special orders and more), I sampled a variety of sweet treats too. One of those, butter tarts, a Canadian favourite, made their way into the story and across the Canadian/American border to become the heroine’s signature bake.
Since the hero, Walker, is a veterinarian, and a stray dog brings he and the heroine together, I also talked to a small-town veterinarian and clinic staff. Although any mistakes are, of course, mine, these people were a great help in answering questions about many aspects of veterinary care and checking related sections of the book for accuracy.
The story also has echoes of Ireland (the hero once lived there) and I drew on holiday experiences as well as my own family history in creating both my hero’s back story and fictional Irish-American small town.
When did you realise you wanted to be an author?
A better question is perhaps when didn’t I want to be an author?! Almost as soon as I learned to read, I imagined writing books of my own one day. From a young age, I also remember making up stories to help myself fall asleep at night and as part of the ‘magazines’ I spent hours creating with paper and glue.
Although I took a circuitous journey and indeed whilst life intervened I didn’t write fiction for many years, I never truly lost sight of wanting to be an author and am so grateful to have finally realised that long-held dream.
If you could give your younger writing self any advice, what would it be?
I’d tell my younger writing self to believe in my author voice, my path and my stories.
No matter where you are in your writing journey, rejection is a given but learning to handle rejection to move forward instead of becoming stuck is based in self-belief and being true to that inner self, despite what others may say.
That’s the same advice I give my current writing self too!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Keep writing, reading and learning is the advice I’d give to any author, published or not. It’s often said that building a long-term writing career is a marathon, not a sprint, so it’s important to continue to hone your craft, read widely in your genre (and beyond it) and keep trying, despite rejection and other obstacles. Success comes not only from talent but also perseverance.
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 Irish roots run deep and lives in a small town in Eastern Ontario, Canada with her husband, teen daughter and a floppy-eared 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 the RNA and Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA).
Get A Wish in Irish Falls on Amazon Kindle (free with Kindle Unlimited) here. For UK & US readers, the book is on sale for only 0.99 pence/cents from 23-25 October 2020.
Jen was talking to Ruby Moone
Ruby Moone lives in the wilds of Lancashire with her husband and writes historical and contemporary romance. At school, her teachers said that she lived with her head in the clouds and if she didn’t stop daydreaming she would never get anywhere. She never did stop daydreaming, and after years of happily living in the clouds, decided to write the stories down.