Former Edmonton-based author Jennifer Snow was only 15 years old when she wrote her first romance novel and mailed the handwritten manuscript to Harlequin Enterprises. Though her submission was met with rejection, the now USA Today bestselling author has over 35 published romance novels, a bestselling thriller and has a few screenplays in the works.
“I like the feel-good, heartwarming vibe that you get from romance novels, and the fact that readers go in with the expectation that they’re going to get a happily ever after,” says Snow. “What hooks me is the human element and the human connection.”
People are craving human connection more than ever after the events of last year, and many are finding solace in the form of books. The NPD Group, a market research company, found that more than 16 million romance books were sold during the first six months of the pandemic, boosting previously declining sales by 17 per cent. Snow says the lonely lockdowns of the pandemic increased people’s desires for the escape that reading provides.
Snow’s latest novel,A Lot Like Love, immerses the reader in a Hallmark-worthy sizzling summer romance. When workaholic Sarah Lewis inherits her grandmother’s bed and breakfast in Blue Moon Bay, the last person she expects to run into is her former high school crush, Wes Sharrun. As the two work together to fix up the B&B, Sarah has conflicting feelings about leaving and she’s forced to consider what her life could be like if she stayed.
Snow’s authentic and relatable writing style uses comedic elements combined with slow-burn romance to hook the reader from the first page. Her novels are flecked with real-life inspiration, including from her time living in Edmonton. An Alaskan Christmas, the first book in the Wild River series, was inspired by members of the Search and Rescue Dog Association of Alberta, whom Snow met at the Telus World of Science a few years back.
“I met these people, and the dogs were amazing, and it was just so fantastic,” says Snow. “The more I learned about what they do in Edmonton as part of their search and rescue crew — it just sounded like it would be a fascinating backdrop to a good romance series.”
Even though Snow lived in Edmonton for 15 years, you wouldn’t know it by the locations of her books. Snow says the United States has a stronger market for romance than Canada, which is why two of her book series are set in the Alaskan and Colorado rockies. Targeting the United States with her marketing is how she ended up on the USA Today Bestselling Books list after publishing an anthology called All I Want for Christmas with her favourite author, Debbie Macomber.
“It’s good to aim higher, and to want to get better and achieve new things, but just seeing your book on the bookshelf for the first time is a dream come true, and hitting the list is an amazing accomplishment,” says Snow.
While Snow’s main domain is romance, that hasn’t stopped her from experimenting. During her time as a writer-in-residence at Audreys Books, Snow began writing a domestic thriller. Snow published All the Lovely Pieces under a pseudonym, J.M. Winchester, to separate the book from her romances, and it became her best selling book to date.
“It was definitely a great venture, and it was fun to write something different that didn’t have to have a happy ever after,” says Snow. “I love my happy ever afters, and I love them when I’m reading and I love that I can give readers that promise, but it was refreshing to write something that I knew didn’t have to wrap up as nicely as my romances do.”
Always busy, Snow has four more novels being released in the coming months, and a movie adaptation of her first novella, Mistletoe and Molly, premiering on Super Channel this holiday season. The full circle moment is rewarding for Snow, who moved to Spain in January, and she’s making time in her busy schedule to slow down and reap the rewards of her success.
“There’s not usually a lot of time to slow down and being busy is good, but always striving for the next level is exhausting,” says Snow. “I’ve learned to appreciate what I’ve achieved along the way and not always be looking at what’s coming up next.”
(Snow also wrote an essay for this magazine in 2014)