From the time she was young, Jasmine Guillory ’93 had her sights set on being a lawyer. She majored in history at Wellesley College, graduated from Stanford Law School, and then clerked for a year at the Federal District Court in San Francisco before joining a law firm where she immersed herself in the world of securities and intellectual property.
Several years later, Guillory moved on to the non-profit world, contributing her legal expertise at several local foundations. She loved her work, but desired a creative outlet. Baking, knitting, singing? She liked all those things, but they just didn’t hit the mark. Then it came to her – writing. “I’ve always loved reading, so I thought I’d give writing a try,” Guillory said.
She dove right in, and began to write for a few hours every night when she got home from work. She completed a young adult novel, received “positive rejections,” and wrote half of another novel in the same genre before finding her niche – romance adult fiction. “My writing voice worked better writing for adults than teenagers,” she said.
Her first venture in the new genre was a smash hit. “The Wedding Date,” published on January 30, 2018, was named Target’s Diverse Book of the Month for February, one of Elle magazine’s “21 Books We’re Most Excited to Read in 2018, a Romance Novel of the Month for February by a Washington Post reviewer, and a USA Today Bestseller to name a few of the accolades.
Set in the Bay Area, the novel details the story of an interracial hero and heroine trapped in a hotel elevator who wind up going to a wedding together and then try to face the challenges of a long-distance relationship. Listen to a podcast in which Guillory talks about the book and writing.
Guillory included a shout out to several of her former teachers, including O’Dowd’s Bonnie Sussman and the late Brad Goodhart, in the acknowledgment of the book. “None of you were writing teachers, but you all taught me how to write,” she wrote.
Her second novel, “The Proposal,” is due out in September, and she is currently writing a third. She also pens pop culture essays from time to time. And, she is still working as a lawyer.
Guillory’s not sure when she might be able to devote her time solely to writing. “You get an advance for a book, which comes in three installments, and then you get royalties twice a year. But you never know how much the royalties are going to be until they come, so it’s good to have a regular paycheck,” she said.
Guillory is still getting used to seeing her book on bookshelves. “It’s been years of ups and downs with my writing, and thinking that no one would care about my book. Now people are buying it and seem to be really liking it. That is just so exciting to me,” she said.
When it comes to stepping out of your comfort zone to do something that you love, Guillory advises go for it. “I know so many people who I went to law school with who are doing completely different things than they planned. Lots of people find their passion later in life, or decide they have more than one passion,” she said.