I’m Jen Gilroy and I’m an author

Mar 11, 2016 | 6 comments |

In February 2015, a UK YouGov poll highlighted that “author” was the dream job for 60% of the British population. Published author is my dream job too, and I’d long imagined what it would be like to say “author” when asked for my occupation. However, like many other things in life, it hasn’t turned out quite as I expected.

As I’ve always had a vivid imagination, making things up for a living is ideal. Moreover, in what other job would eavesdropping in shops and on public transport classify as research?

Since I’m a romance writer, there are a host of other benefits too.

Although I’m happily married, there are book boyfriends galore. There are also fascinating research topics to pursue. In the past week alone, I’ve Googled ice hockey injuries, read a fun book about hockey mothers, and spent several happy hours checking out pictures of sexy hockey players. All to create believable characters for readers to fall in love with!

Then there’s working from home in my pyjamas if I choose, and a flexible schedule that allows me to balance work and family life more easily than the corporate 9-5 I left behind.

Despite all these pluses, I wasn’t prepared for what it would actually be like to say “I’m an author.”

While many people are interested and supportive, I doubt teachers, architects or bus drivers get the same reaction to their jobs as I’ve had in recent months to mine.

There was the bank customer service officer who said I didn’t “look like one of those artsy-fartsy types.” Was that a compliment or criticism? What are authors supposed to look like?

Others have asked if I’ve written anything they’ve heard of. Not yet, although I live (and write) in hope.

Still others comment on the riches perceived to accrue to anyone who, with a dash of magic fairy dust, secures a book contract. Sadly, most authors, myself included, don’t earn anything close to what Nora Roberts, Dan Brown or Stephen King do.

Finally, there are the off-the-wall questions. 

  • Do I put people I know in my books? Absolutely not! Each character is unique, although socks worn by someone I once worked with sowed the seed for a character trait.
  • Do I write sex scenes from personal experience? Did I mention my vivid imagination?
  • Will I change genres so the person can read what I write? (Because they “only” read literary fiction, thrillers, Christian fiction, mysteries, historical fiction). No! I love what I write and have many more stories to tell.

Many people want to write a book. Some actually do. And the lucky ones, like me, become working writers who get to live the dream.

I’m Jen Gilroy and I’m an author. As for those sex scenes? I doubt Stephen King gets asked if he writes about killing people from personal experience.


  1. Jennifer Wilck

    I’d love to hear what Stephen King responds when asked that question, though! I’ve been asked that question too. And just in case you’re wondering, there’s nothing quite like having someone come up to you in the middle of a board meeting to ask (quite loudly), “Is there sex in it?”

    • Jen Gilroy

      Your comment made me laugh, Jennifer, with both amusement and solidarity. Thanks for sharing my pain, although I’ve never been asked the “sex question” in the middle of a board meeting! Possibly because when I attended board meetings, nobody there knew I wrote!

  2. Sue Bavin

    How interesting that so many people said they dreamed of being an author. I wonder how many (or should that be how few) of those people actually put pen to paper and try to make their dream a reality. But mainly I just want to say how wonderful it must be to be able to describe yourself as an author – and never mind what kind of reaction it provokes!

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Sue. It’s indeed wonderful to say I’m an “author” and I’m still pinching myself that such a long-held dream has come true.

  3. Jessica Redland

    Very amusing and so very true. I have a day job so I tend to tag the ‘author’ bit on after saying I’m a Recruitment Consultant, as if it’s an after-thought. I’m waiting for someone one day to say, “Really? How fabulous. What sort of books do you write? That sounds amazing …” and so on. Never happens. They either talk about the book they’d love to write … if they had time … or they ignore the comment!
    I’m Jessica and I’m an author too xx

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thanks very much for stopping by and commenting, Jessica. When I had a non-writing day job, very few people knew I wrote so I avoided awkward questions. I’ve also had many people talk about the book they want to write…if they had time! xx


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