Jen: Today’s guest is one of our all-time favorites and as always, we’re excited to welcome Jodi Thomas as she celebrates another release. Jodi, will you share a short bio with us?
Jodi: A fifth generation Texan who taught family living, Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A former teacher, Thomas traces the beginning of her storytelling career to the days when her twin sisters were young and impressionable.
With a degree in Family Studies, Thomas is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Thomas enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A & M University campus, where she currently serves as Writer In Residence.
Commenting on her contribution to the arts, Thomas said, “When I was teaching classes full time, I thought I was making the world a better place. Now I think of a teacher, or nurse, or mother settling back and relaxing with one of my books. I want to take her away on an adventure that will entertain her. Maybe, in a small way, I’m still making the world a better place.”
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Jodi: My newest book is A PLACE CALLED HARMONY, releasing on October 7, 2014.
I’m very excited about this book because it’s been in the back of my mind since I started the Harmony series four years ago. Though all the books were independent stories about a small town in Texas, people and families blended in with every story. From the beginning, the story of the founding of Harmony was told. As I got to know the grand-children and great-grandchildren I thought more and more of the first three families.
They would have had to be strong people and very much men or their time as well as roll models for the Trumans, Mathesons and McAllens of the future.
What I never dreamed would happen when I started writing a historical about a town I’d been working in for years was how much I’d fall in love with the three men. They were the men who built my town. Their strengths had been handed down to characters I’d loved writing for years. Their lives had not been easy and a few had a bit of growing to do.
This book was a joy. Writing it was candy to my brain. You’ll laugh and cry and hopefully read every story in Harmony after you meet my dreamer, my fighter, and my lover and the three women who loved them enough to follow them to build a town.
If you ask me where the idea came from, I’d have to say that I met their children and felt like I already knew my heroes before I wrote the first page.
Jen: You write both contemporary and historical romances. Do you prefer one over the other? Do you approach writing any differently when switching between the genres?
Jodi: I’ve always loved writing both. Historicals have the richness of the period and I’ve written so many I feel like I live the Texas of the 1800’s in a former life. Do I want to go back there?—-only in fiction.
I usually write my contemporaries upstairs in my study with windows on three sides. I live in the middle of town and the world of today is always around me. I hear the traffic from the highway, the fire truck three blocks away, trains moving through town, cars, people talking as they pass by. When I step into the story my world surrounds me.
I usually write my historical novels closed away in a little room with art from the west. I close away and step into the past. I visit museums and ranches and walk untamed land that looks pretty much like it did a hundred years ago. —Not hard to do when you live in the Texas Panhandle.
I love writing them both. I usually read historical non-fiction when writing historicals. They don’t come as fast usually as contemporary.
Jen: If the Harmony series was made into a movie or TV series, who do you see in the leading roles?
Jodi: That’s a hard one. I’ve always seen my characters in words, not so much in pictures. I think if Harmony became a series I’d be as surprised as the readers what everyone looked like.
Something else I never do is read my own book once it’s in print. If I did I know I’d start rewriting. Most of the time I don’t think it is finished and my husband finally pulls it from my bloody hands and mails it in.(slight exaggeration there.)
Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one you most identify with?
Jodi: In A PLACE CALLED HARMONY I began loving Patrick McAllen because he is so young and full of dreams, but as I worked my way through the book I couldn’t help loving Truman because he had such a long way to go to learn to love. Then I met Matheson. His kind heart and sense of caring touched me plus he always made me laugh. I’m telling you if these three men were all real and walking around I’d be a bigamist. I loved every one of them.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Jodi: Next week I’ll be traveling promoting A PLACE CALLED HARMONY and this spring the next Harmony contemporary will be out. My editor just read the first draft and she said she laughed all the way through it. That story ONE TRUE HEART is about a professor in Harmony who has to put up with his fortune telling sister. I’m also doing research on a new book. Spent two days in a 4 wheeler last week crossing over a huge ranch.
What’s next! I’m having a great time writing and corralling four grandchildren under 5. Life is a wild ride right now and I’m loving it.