What if the key to your present lies in the past?
On the eve of the Second World War, Canadian Maggie Wyndham defies her family and stays in England to do her bit for the war effort. Torn between two countries, two men and living a life of lies working for the Special Operations Executive (SOE), Maggie’s RAF sweetheart locket is part of who she is…and who she isn’t.
San Francisco, 2019
Over twenty years after Maggie’s death, her daughter Millie and granddaughter Willow take a DNA test that’s supposed to be a bit of fun but instead yields unexpected results. Willow has always treasured her grandmother’s sweetheart locket, both family heirloom and a symbol of her grandparents’ love story. But now she doesn’t know what to believe. She embarks on a search for the truth, one she doesn’t know will reveal far more about herself…
– When and where do you prefer to write?
For much of my writing life, I had to squeeze writing in around my family and day job commitments. As such, I learned to write in snatches of time, anywhere and everywhere.
My favourite place to write, though, is in my cosy home office where it’s quiet, I’m surrounded by books and meaningful photos and ornaments and with my dog snoozing nearby. I also prefer writing from mid-morning to early afternoon as that is when I’m most productive.
– Do you have a certain ritual?
I start my writing day by checking social media and replying to any urgent emails that have come in overnight. I then go offline and write until I reach my daily word count.
I also burn a scented candle as it helps me focus and signals to my brain that it’s time to get words on the page/screen.
– Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
I drink water while I write and snack on almonds or fruit. I try to be disciplined and stay away from biscuits but sometimes it’s difficult because working from home the pantry is always nearby!
– What is your favourite book?
I have too many favourite books to choose only one but the Emily trilogy by Canadian author L.M. Montgomery helped me believe in my dream of becoming a published author. Those stories also help me persevere when navigating the ups and downs of a writing career.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
I currently write in two genres, sweet contemporary western romance (for Harlequin Heartwarming) and dual-time historical women’s fiction, like The Sweetheart Locket (for Orion Dash).
As I’ve recently moved to writing commercial women’s fiction alongside romance, I don’t anticipate writing in an additional genre in the near future but may consider doing so as my career evolves.
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
My characters are entirely fictional but certain traits or experiences are sometimes inspired by people I know.
In The Sweetheart Locket, Maggie, the Canadian heroine of the Second World War story, has been at school in England but instead of returning home to Canada when war looms, she decides to stay and ‘do her bit’ for the war effort. That part of the story was inspired by one of my Canadian great-aunts who was teaching in England in 1939 and was summoned home to Canada by her father that August.
When I knew her as a much older woman, my great-aunt still wondered how her life would have been different if she’d gone against her father’s wishes and remained in England for the duration of the war.
From ‘what if’ question, the story that is The Sweetheart Locket grew.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
Yes, I do because I never know when inspiration might strike and want to be able to jot it down.
If I don’t have a notebook with me, my husband and daughter are used to me scribbling on paper serviettes, shop receipts and anything else I can get my hands on to capture an idea when I have it!
– Which genre do you not like at all?
I’m not a fan of horror. Since real-life can be frightening enough, I prefer to read feel-good, happy and hopeful fiction.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
Like a favourite author, that’s another question where I truly can’t choose only one person to co-write with! However, it would not only be an author whose writing I admire but one whose writing voice and way of working on a book complements mine.
I’ve always thought that co-writing a book with someone is a bit like a marriage. As such, it would be important to take the time to choose the right partner and recognise that like any partnership a writing one requires hard work and good communication.
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
At present, and after more than two years of pandemic and closed or restricted international borders, I’d like to travel anywhere beyond my local area in Ontario, Canada, and not only for research.
Given that the book I’m currently writing, another dual-time Second World War and contemporary story, is set in England (my second home) and France, I’d like to return to both countries to visit archives, museums and libraries and immerse myself in my story settings in real life.
About the Author
Jen Gilroy writes sweet contemporary romance and dual timeline historical women’s fiction—warm, feel-good stories to bring readers’ hearts home.
A Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® finalist and shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon award, Amazon named her third book, ‘Back Home at Firefly Lake,’ a ‘Best Book of the Month: Romance’ in December 2017.
A dual British-Canadian citizen, Jen lived in England for many years and earned a doctorate (with a focus on British cultural studies and social history) from University College London. Returning to where her Irish family roots run deep, she now lives with her husband, teenage daughter and floppy-eared rescue hound in small-town Eastern Ontario, Canada.
When not writing, she enjoys reading, ice cream, ballet and paddling her purple kayak.
Universal Amazon link: http://mybook.to/TheSweetheartLocket
Other links (Apple, GooglePlay & Kobo) via Hachette: https://www.hachette.co.uk/titles/jen-gilroy-2/the-sweetheart-locket/9781398708365/
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