Literary Spring: Jilly Gagnon


By Stephanie Pettway

Staff Reporter

On April 6 in the Art and Design Gallery, Sacred Heart University’s English Department hosted comedy and young adult author Jilly Gagnon for their Literary Spring.

The Literary Spring showcases established authors. Guests then speak about their journey as a writer, their works and also read a small number of passages from their
published writings.

Gagnon presented her young adult fiction novel, “#famous,” and her adult comedy book, “Choose Your Own Misery: The Office,” co-written with Mike MacDonald.

Another one of her books within that series is titled “Choose Your Own Misery: The Holidays.”

“I didn’t think I was going to write neither comedy or young adult fiction,” said Gagnon. “But I did know, once I got to college, that I was going to at least write books.”

Gagnon spoke about how she got to where she was, with her currently being a full-time writer in Chicago. She said it’s like always having an essay due and you are your own professor.

She also talked about the difficulties she had to face trying to get her first book published, such as finding an agent. She explained how one must become comfortable with getting rejected, yet still have the drive to want to keep pursuing what they are passionate about.

After telling the audience her background, she gave a brief description of her novel, “#famous.” The story is based off of Alex From Target, a teenage boy who became a
Twitter sensation after a picture taken of him went viral.

Following the same premise, the novel tells the story of a girl named Rachel who tweets a picture of a cute boy named Kyle which then quickly goes viral. The story is told in both the perspectives of Rachel and Kyle and how they deal with the events that occur once Kyle gains fame.

The other book she spoke about was “Choose Your Own Misery: The Office,” which is based off the book series, “Choose Your Own Adventure,” by Edward Packard.

The book allows the reader to decide how the story pans out based on the options given. Gagnon states that the book follows “the constant misery of working in an office.”

Combined with humor and reliability, Gagnon’s voice allows her to connect with a wide demographic. It is also a reason why she liked writing personal essays for magazines.

“I think my strength as a writer is my voice. I like to put my own imprint on what I am writing,” said Gagnon.

During the presentation, she delivered humor with jokes to transition between topics, which had those in attendance laughing.

“I loved how funny she was,” said freshman Ashley Penczynzyn. “She was incredibly engaging.”

Some of the audience members included students from a creative writing class at Sacred Heart. Many of them liked what Gagnon had to say and now consider reading her works.

“I enjoyed her sense of humor. Makes me definitely want to pick up one of her ‘Choose Your Own Misery’ books,” said junior Dayne Kepler.

When she opened for a question and answer session at the end of the presentation, she offered advice to inspiring writers.

“I think it is great to do something different,” said Gagnon. “Sometimes we get stuck on a project we are working on, so it helps to change gears to get your mind going. But what you don’t want to do is stop writing when you get stuck.”

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