Writer's Block with Robyn Gigl - The Gloss Magazine

Writer’s Block with Robyn Gigl

Edel Coffey finds out all about the fascinating Robyn Gigl…

Robyn Gigl is an American author whose novel, Survivor’s Guilt, was selected by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 Best Mystery and Thriller Books of All Time and named one of the best crime novels of 2022 by the New York Times. Gigl is a partner at the law firm of Dilworth Paxson in Freehold, NJ and has been named as one of the Top 100 Lawyers and Top 50 Women Lawyers in New Jersey. She is a member of the New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement.

On home: Home is a town called Bradley Beach on the Jersey Shore. It’s near Asbury Park, which anyone who is a Bruce Springsteen fan will know. My house is at the shore. Western Jersey has a lot of farmland and open spaces, while up north there are mountains and hiking trails. I know it gets kind of a bad rap but to me, New Jersey has always had everything I’ve ever wanted.

On roots: My life was very traditional up to the age of about 55. I had a very upper-middle-class upbringing. My mom’s ancestry is Irish – her maiden name was Hurley; my dad was German-Austrian, and I am the third of four children. I got married to my wife in the second year of law school and we had three children.

On change: Since about the age of four, I knew that I was supposed to be a girl. Th ere was no language available for me to express it. It was my secret and I kept it buried until I was in my 50s and then just got to the point where I couldn’t go on. In 2008, I started the process of coming out and telling people who I was. In 2009, I transitioned. Although my wife and I are separated, we’re still the best of friends, we’re still married, we still have the most incredible family, we vacation together all the time. In 2015, I moved to Jersey, and continued to practise law. Somewhere along the way I started writing books.

On writing: I’ve always wanted to write. I graduated law school in 1977 and started my fi rst manuscript in 1979. I got 250 pages in and life intervened. I was a young attorney raising a family, so writing went on the backburner. Fast forward to 2010 and my son Colin contacted me and asked if I had ever heard of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It brought back the itch to write again. Colin’s manuscript became a novel published in 2016 and mine became a manuscript that was never published but did get me an agent. I started writing what became By Way Of Sorrow and in 2018 it was acquired in a two-book deal. Th e second book was Survivor’s Guilt.

On my writing space: I write on my couch looking out at the Atlantic ocean. I do have an offi ce and I’ve tried to write in there but it seems too confi ning.

On reading:  One of my all-time favourite books is Catch-22. It’s such a pivotal book for me because I read it when I was 14 or 15 and found it funny and dark and satirical. It wasn’t until the 1980s that I started to read crime novels. Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow was one of those books.

On bookshops:  There’s a bookstore about five miles from me in Manesquan, New Jersey, called BookTowne. It’s just your classic little bookstore – small, independent, one of those places where they might not have every book you want, but they’ll get it for you in days. It’s very local. @edelcoffey

Survivor’s Guilt (Verve, €22.39) is out now. 


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