I Got the Call! Meet new Harlequin Heartwarming author Jen Gilroy

Jen Gilroy writes sweet contemporary romance and uplifting women’s fiction to bring readers’ hearts home. She’s been a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s (RWA) Golden Heart® Award and the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s (RNA) Joan Hessayon Award. Her Harlequin debut, Montana Reunion, publishes in early 2022 and is also her debut western romance.

Author photo by Robin Spencer

Harlequin: Tell us about yourself. Our readers want to know!

Jen Gilroy: I’m a wife to a tech guy husband and mum to a teenage daughter and floppy-eared rescue hound. Before writing full-time, I worked in higher education, marketing and international business development, but after many years in England, I returned to where my Irish family roots run deep and now live in a small town in Eastern, Ontario Canada. When not writing, I’m an avid reader and also enjoy ballet, kayaking, ice cream and vintage finds.

H: Why did you want to become a romance writer?

JG: By giving me hope, encouragement, and oftentimes escape, reading romance (including Harlequin titles) has helped me through some of the most difficult times in my life. 

I now write romance to give readers the kind of feel-good stories that mean so much to me. When a reader says that one of my stories has helped them at a hard time, it’s both special and humbling, as well as a reminder of why and how I write.

H: What were the major steps in your journey to becoming a published author?

JG: Although I’ve written since childhood, it was only after several major life losses that I focused seriously on learning the craft of fiction writing and worked toward traditional publication. Alongside the corporate 9-5, it took me almost six years and too many rejections to count to sign with my first agent and then get my first contract.

I’ve wanted to write for Harlequin Heartwarming since I met several Heartwarming authors and editors at the Romance Writers of America national conference in 2015 so selling Montana Reunion to the line, after seeing an editorial call for western romance, is a dream come true.

After several difficult years in life as well as writing, not only did creating the fictional world of Montana Reunion help me rediscover my joy in storytelling, it also celebrates western life, something I cherish from growing up in western Canada and spending family vacations in Montana.

H: What one piece of advice would you offer aspiring writers?

JG: Don’t give up! Keep writing and reading in your genre and learn from rejection and setbacks.

As a more experienced writer once said to me, the main difference between a published and unpublished author is that the published one didn’t give up. This advice also applies post-publication because navigating ups and downs are part of building a long-term writing career.

H: What did you do when you got the call from Harlequin?

JG: When my agent called to tell me that Heartwarming editor Kathryn Lye wanted to buy the story that is now Montana Reunion, I cried.

Although published previously, I was at a crossroads in my writing life and getting “the call from Harlequin,” and joining the supportive community of Heartwarming authors, editors and other publishing professionals, is a huge career and confidence boost. Although still a bit unbelievable, I’m very grateful.

As I do for each milestone in my writing life, I’m also marking “the call” by treating myself to a piece of silver jewelry, in this case one with a western theme.

Now let’s hear from Jen’s editor, Kathryn Lye:

“Jen’s writing attracted me to her submission right away. I was immediately caught up in what was happening and who these characters were and what they were facing. The dialogue came across as so natural that I wanted to keep reading—always a good sign to an editor who is looking to acquire. The rest of the book didn’t disappoint, either. It’s a full-of-hope, feel-good romance.”

Kathryn Lye, Editor, Harlequin Heartwarming

Welcome to Harlequin, Jen! And read more I Got the Call stories from new Harlequin authors at our archive.