A fifth generation Texan, Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state.
The stories Thomas has committed to paper have earned her an impressive list of distinguished awards. Her first book, BENEATH THE TEXAS SKY (1988), won the National Press Women's Novel of the Year in its category. Book two, NORTHERN STAR (1990), was named best novel by the (Texas) Panhandle Professional Writers and the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc., an organization of writers' groups from several states. Book three, THE TENDER TEXAN (1991), was Thomas's first national bestseller and won her the first of two Romance Writers of America RITA's, the $1.5 billion romance publishing industry's equivalent of an "Oscar." Book twelve, TO KISS A TEXAN (1999) was her first novel to score on the USA TODAY Best-selling Books list. For THE TEXAN'S WAGER (2002), sixteen was the magic number. As Thomas's sixteenth novel, the book scored number sixteen on the NEW YORK TIMES extended bestseller list. FINDING MARY BLAINE, (2004) received the National Readers' Choice Award in 2005. Thomas was inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame in 2006 for winning her third RITA for THE TEXAN'S REWARD (2005). She also won the National Readers' Choice for TWISTED CREEK (2008) and TALL, DARK, AND TEXAN (2008).
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.
When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, Tom, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo, and “checking up” on their two grown sons.
DRose: Welcome Jodi, it's great to have you here. Let's start by telling us a little about yourself. Where are you from? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I grew up in Amarillo, Texas but a few weeks of every summer was spent in Hollis, Oklahoma where several sets of aunts and uncles lived. I know I lived the other 50 weeks of the year but sometimes I think I remembered every detail of those summers in a small town. My Uncle Leroy always brought me a horse into town so I could ride around during the week of the rodeo.
DRose: How long did it take for you to get published and what was the journey like?
Like most writers I started it working a few hours a week almost like a hobby and got hooked fast. Soon I was writing two of three hours almost every night. The first year I thought I’d sell my first book for a million any minute. Five years later, I was still working on trying the sell. Then, I went to a conference, talked to an editor and sold. It all seemed so easy…if you don’t count the years of trying.
DRose: With so many books under your belt do you find it easier to plot your before you write it or do you sit and let the words flow?
I usually have a few pages of ideas, but my characters never listen to me. I like to meet my characters and get to know them as I move though the story.
Once I had great characters but didn’t feel like I had a plot. I brought my chapter every week to critique and would say, “here’s my story without a plot.” I finished the book thinking I didn’t really have a big plot to go with this book. TWO TEXAS HEARTS was in 11th printing the last time I checked. No plot maybe, but great heart.
DRose: What is your favorite book or series?
My new book WELCOME TO HARMONY was so much fun to write. I knew I had a great story, but I wasn’t sure I could write so that the readers saw it the way I did. I love this small town and the people in it. I can’t wait to take readers home to Harmony.
DRose: Tell us more about your book. What's it about and what inspired you to write it?
I wanted to create a town that everyone wishes they were from. Harmony was founded by three families who don’t always get along, but when trouble comes will fight for one another’s rights. It’s a story about loving others and about seeing the heroes in us all.
DRose: Any current projects you're excited about and can share with our readers?
I just finished the second in the series about Harmony. New characters blend with the old. I had a great time watching characters grow and learn from one book to the other. Readers will be able to return to Harmony with Nov. release of SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY.
DRose: Most people see writers as hermits, closed off in a room, clacking away at the keyboard until the final page is typed. Do you consider yourself this disciplined as a writer?
I’m the Writer in Residence at a small university. I have people in and out of my office all day. I give between fifty and a hundred talks a year to everyone from writers to clubs. I rarely write in the day, but after dinner when the house is quiet I climb the stairs to an office framed by windows and write until about midnight. When I get behind, I sometimes disappear for a week to a cabin in the mountains, but most of the time my family helps me.
I went to lunch with my son one Sat. when I’d been writing all morning. Halfway through the meal he said, ‘Mom, you can’t pull out of the story, can you?” He was right and very understanding. I don’t write for a living---I am a writer.
DRose: Do you consider yourself eccentric as a writer? Is there something you must have or do before writing?
Of course. We all are, but we have to adapt. I love building my nest as I sit down to write. A Diet Coke, a few M&M’s, silence, a game of solitude and I’m ready to go. But like gets in the way so sometimes I’m writing away in a corner of an airport with people passing and noise everywhere.
DRose: Do you write to music or the TV?
DRose: When you're not writing, do you have any hobbies or interests?
I love people. I belong to lots of clubs and love going to art shows and movies. We love eating out with friends and traveling.
DRose: They say you can learn a lot about a person by their surroundings. What does your work area look like?
At home, it’s clean, usually only a few papers and my computer. At my office it’s cluttered. I like having things around me that mean something to me so I would probably be a decorator’s nightmare
DRose: What do you consider your guilty pleasure?
Movies!!! When I’m feeling down I go rent five movies, pop popcorn and watch one right after the other.
DRose: Can you tell us about the workshop you’ll be doing for the Desert Rose Conference?
In WRITING IN TWO GENRES I talk about the advantages of writing for more the one market and how to stay sane while crossing into two worlds. We’ll explore the possibilities in writing and learn to find the heartbeat in a story that makes readers keep the book to read again.
In SELLING HISTORICALS IN TODAY’S MARKET—we’ll look at ways to show a profit in the historical market. We’ll also see how charcters come alive in any time period.
Thank you for spending the day with us Jodi. We’re looking forward to seeing you at the conference.
To learn more about Jodi and her books, visit her at www.jodithomas.com.