Jen: Today we welcome Jodi Thomas back to Romancing the Book as she celebrates the release of Rustler’s Moon. Jodi, will you share a short bio with us?
Jodi: A fifth-generation Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author 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.”
When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo and “checking up” on their two grown sons.
For more information, please visit Jodi’s website at http://www.jodithomas.com.
Jen: Please tell us a little about your newest release.
Jodi: Here’s the blurb from Rustler’s Moon:
On a dirt road marked by haunting secrets, three strangers caught at life’s crossroads must decide what to sacrifice to protect their own agendas…and what they’re each willing to risk for love.
If there’s any place that can convince Angela Harold to stop running, it’s Ransom Canyon. And if there’s any man who can reveal desires more deeply hidden than her every fear, it’s Wilkes Wagner. Beneath the rancher’s honorable exterior is something that just might keep her safe…or unwittingly put her in danger’s path.
With his dreams of leaving this small Texas town swallowed up by hard, dusty reality, all Wilkes has to show for his life is the Devil’s Fork Ranch. Though not one to let false hope seduce him, he can’t deny the quiet and cautious beauty who slips into his world and changes everything.
Lauren Brigman finally has freedom at her fingertips. All she needs is Lucas Reyes’s attention—a look, a touch, some sign that she’s more to him than a girl he rescued one dangerous night. But now it’s her turn to rescue someone, and the life-altering decision may cost her more than a chance with Lucas.
Jen: What what age did you discover writing? Tell us your call story.
Jodi: I think I always wanted to write. I have writing journals from when I was in my early teens, but English was my worst subject so I didn’t think it would ever happen. I did a great deal of searching looking for a career. I taught school, I got a masters in counseling and did both family and crisis counseling. I loved trying to understand people and helping them but I knew it wasn’t what I was meant to do my whole life.
When I was 35 I decided to try writing. The first night of my first writing class the teacher said after I read, “Oh my lord, you’re in the horse’s point of view.” Since I didn’t know what POV was, I wasn’t upset. After class I followed her to her car and asked if she thought I had what it took to write. She said, “If you work very, very hard I think you do.”
So I worked very, very hard. Teach during the day, writing at night. Taking every class I could on writing. Reading every book. Writing, writing, writing. Mailing off manuscripts and always getting them back. Four years later I was getting ready to teach a class when I got the call. The editor said simply, “I want to buy your book.” I sold 5 books in 15 months and never looked back. I finally found my place.
Jen: Who has influenced you as a writer?
Jodi: A hundred great romance writers who I’ve read over the years, influenced me of course. We all stand on the shoulders of giants.
But, one writer played a key role. Dewanna Pace. I met her in my first writing class. After the class we started meeting at the library every week to read each other’s work. I loved her gentle way with words and still do. We took classes together, went to writers conferences and, best of all, read each other’s work. She was there to listen when I was down and there to celebrate when I won.
She’s heaven’s blessing now, but I can still hear her voice echoing in my brain telling me to write deeper. Always believing in me.
Jen: If you were able to travel in time, where would you go and what 3 things would you take with you?
Jodi: I’d love to go back in time more than a hundred years and talk to my great-grandmother. She gave birth to my grandmother in a covered wagon crossing the Oklahoma Territory. She settled on land beyond the fort line.
I’d take one of my books and see if she liked it because she wrote poetry. I’d also take a few thousand dollars so she could buy some of that ten dollar an acer land they’ll find oil on years later. We’d have tea and talk, then I’d let her get back to her life and I’d come back to my time before I had to go to the outhouse.
Jen: What did you do to celebrate your first book? Do you do anything to celebrate a sale, new contract or release?
Jodi: When I sold my first books my whole family took me, my husband Tom, and our two sons out to eat. The next night my critique group took us out to eat. The next night the teachers I taught with took us out. The next night friends took us out. The next night my writing class took us out. The next night my six-year-old son told me to hurry up and sell another book, he liked eating out every night.
Now, after over 40 books it’s just me and Tom who celebrate. He always takes me out and we talk. I still get excited when I sell or see the cover for the first time. That first book joy is always special. All the others are rewarding. I remember it took me about six books before I stopped thinking that this would be the last one. But, Creativity is a river, not a bucket.
Jen: I understand you have some photos of our offices that you’d like to share with us.
Jodi: Enjoy these photos from my office at WTAMU and my bunkhouse.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Jodi: I’m in the middle or a six book series and loving it. Ransom Canyon is a modern day story about living in Texas. My Texas. My small town way of life. I hope to finish it by fall and already have several ideas for another series. Like I’ve told Tom, I’m going to have to start believing in reincarnation because it’s going to take me more than one lifetime to write all the stories dancing in my head.