One day I was pushing a cart full of groceries through the store, ignoring my three children argue about which items they could add to the cart, feeling very mommish and worn out. As per my usual habit, I cruised through the book/magazine section looking for something new to read. There was this Western Historical Romance by an author I'd never heard of before, Jodi Thomas. Thinking, "why not?" I threw the book into my cart.
That began my love affair with Jodi's books. (I've read them all!)
So imagine my thrill at meeting her at an RWA conference. Then seeing her again at the Richardson, Texas annual "Buns And Roses Tea" last fall. And to top it off, get to invite her to join us on today's blog!
Suzanne: Jodi, thank you for taking the time to visit with us. You are the Writer In Residence at West Texas A&M University campus. What does that position entail and how are you enjoying it?
Jodi: I enjoy being writer-in-residence. Once a teacher, always a teacher, I guess. I have an office in the library and most afternoons you'll find students visiting and reading their work to me. I teach one short class each year for the continuing education program and am very excited to be teaching in the West Texas A&M Writing Academy from June 8-12 www.wtamu.edu/oce. or phone for information: 806-651-2037. I feel like if I'd had a working writer to talk to I might have saved a few years struggling, so in June four multi-published writers plan to meet in Canyon, Texas on the campus of WTA&M and spend a week working with people who want to be published in fiction. So please tell any future novelist to pack their lap tops and book a room in the dorm for a week. They'll love the workshop and they'll experience a taste of my beloved Texas.
Suzanne: I'd like to do this virtual interview either in your campus office or your favorite spot on campus. If you could describe it to me, we'll try to give your readers a casual glimpse into that spot.
Jodi: I'll do better then that, I'll take you on a walk in my world. My office is on the second floor of Cornette library. My window overlooks a small campus. Last Thursday I sat out in snowy weather and watched a rodeo, today I plan to drop by the baseball game. Walking across campus I see students who look like they just climbed out of bed and headed to class. (I swear they still have their pj's on) and I see cowboys in their hats and boots climbing out of their pickups. (Some drive a hundred miles round trip a day from their farm or ranch to attend here.) I live in a place where men still hold doors and tip their hats in hello. If the wind is blowing over 30 mph. we think it's a calm day. I work among librarians, who I've decided are the kindest people in the world. My favorite spot on campus is the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum where I often walk and think.
Suzanne: What a fascinating place to visit. As a RWA Hall Of Fame Author for you Western Historicals, you've taken your readers into the world of the Texas cowboy. What do you find so romantic and enduring about these characters?
Jodi: I love setting my stories in Texas History. Between 1830-1890 Texas was a wild place where strong people carved out lives. I like to write men who are strong and try to do the right thing. They live by a code of doing what is right. I like to write characters like this because I know men who live by such a code.
Suzanne: Your most recent western historicals were the anthology, GIVE ME A TEXAN and the single title, TALL, DARK, AND TEXAN. Can you tell us about those stories?
Jodi: GIVE ME A TEXAN was about a man who'd always thought he was ugly, but he had a gift for listening. When he offers marriage to the prettiest girl he's ever seen, he does so after hearing what she truly wants. After one meeting, they board the train and head to Amarillo. GIVE ME A COWBOY-a story about early rodeo days, followed TEXAN in February 09. Check out the short look at a video of GIVE ME A TEXAN AND GIVE ME A COWBOY on my website, http://www.jodithomas.com/
TALL, DARK, AND TEXAN is a Whispering Mountain story about a man, Teagen McMurray, who had to grow up at 12. He takes over the family ranch, holds it in turmoil and raises his little brother and sister. In so doing, he hardens by 30 to a man who doesn't know how to talk to anyone. He has one friend he corresponds with by mail-a bookstore owner in Chicago. The book opens when the friend wills Teagen his wife and three daughters. And, Teagen, who has feared nothing in his life suddenly finds himself afraid of a little widow and her daughters.
I loved writing this story. I think it's one of the most tender love stories I've ever written. The reader will laugh and cry with my characters in this touching love story about a hard man who learns to be tender.
Suzanne: A few years back you stepped out of the past to write contemporaries set in West Texas, the first of which was The WIDOWS OF WICHITA COUNTY How did it feel to work in a new genre after being so successful in the historical market?
Jodi: I love historical fiction, but every now and then a story came to mind that didn't fit in the past. WIDOWS OF WICHITA COUNTY was like that because it's based on an oil rig accident. My husband tried to get me to make it fit in a historical, like change it to a stage coach accident, but I couldn't. The learning curve was huge on that book. When I finished, I told him to shoot me if I ever wrote another multi-viewpoint book again because it was far too hard. About six months later I called his office and told him to go home and lock up the guns, I was starting another one. I'm now working on my sixth contemporary, (and by the way, we have no guns in the house). I have to admit that I love writing in both styles and when I'm working in one time period, I'm thinking about what I'll do when I get back to the other. For a list of all my books click
Suzanne: TWISTED CREEK was one of my favorite books last year. Can you tell our readers a little bit about it?
Jodi: TWISTED CREEK is about a woman who believes bad luck follows her and when good things start to happen, she doesn't think any of them can be true. She loves one person, her Nana and her grandmother is growing old and forgetful. This book is a journey into seeing people through someone else's eyes and learning to love. Readers will fall in love, not only with a place, but with the nesters, the people who stay at the lake after everyone else leaves at summer's end.
Suzanne: Your newest release is REWRITING MONDAY. It takes place near TWISTED CREEK, doesn't it?
Jodi: It does take place near TWISTED CREEK. I plan on writing a series of books set around a cluster of small towns.
Suzanne: At first glance your hero and heroine are ordinary people. What twist do you give them?
Jodi: I enjoy taking ordinary people and showing how they, just like all of us, sometimes stand as silent heroes in our lives. Pepper is a type A personality who never slows down, never backs down, and never commits in a relationship. Mike is a shy man who does his job as editor of a small town paper, not because it's the life he would have chosen, but because it's where he's needed. When they meet, she's on the run from a mistake she made that may end her career as a reporter. He feels her come into his life like a breath of fresh air, unaware that his past is about to destroy all the peace he's known.
For me this story also came to life with the secondary characters, a couple who loved one another and was separated by so much time they weren't sure they could ever get back to where they once were. REWRITING MONDAY is a story about last chances, first loves, and the longing we all have from time to time to rewrite a moment in our lives.
Suzanne: What is in store next for your fans? A historical or contemporary western?
Jodi: My next story will be set in the historical time period. THE LONE TEXAN will be the next book set in Whispering Mountain. It will be out in October. The hero was a wild kid with no one to care for him, the heroine was a cherished sister with three big brothers. Sage is a doctor returning to Texas after being widowed and Drummond, a young gunfighter who's loved her since he was a boy, is the last person she wants to run into. Their love story is as wild as Texas in 1859.
Suz: Thanks for being with us today, Jodi! It's been a great pleasure to chat with you. So, readers, which are you? A contemporary or a historical fan? And if you could go back to any time period, what and where would you go? Me? Definitely western america.
Jodi has agreed to give away an autographed book and a tote bag as a prize package to two lucky winners.
**don't forget, click on any book cover to order Jodi's books, or any on the sidebar to order the Bandit's newest releases!**