Thursday, April 5, 2018

Interview: Jodi Thomas, author of MORNINGS ON MAIN

A Small-Town Texas Novel
Jodi Thomas
Genre: Mainstream Romance
Publisher: HQN
Number of Pages: 320 pages


Jillian James has never had a place to call home. Desperate to make some quick cash before moving on again, she agrees to help an elderly woman close her beloved quilt shop.

Connor Larady’s grandmother has owned the shop all her life, but lately she has struggled with Alzheimer’s. Connor’s seventeen-year-old daughter has spent her whole life in Laurel Springs, Texas, and she feels restless. When Jillian moves to town, she represents travel, adventure and excitement.

Weaving together the story of three generations of women looking for a place to belong, Mornings on Main asks us to consider how we make our memories—what we remember, what we forget, what becomes part of our story—and remind us that it’s not where we live, but how we live that counts.


How has being a Texan (or Texas) influenced your writing?
I love Texas. Our history is wild and rich with colorful characters that seem larger than life. Whenever I travel the state, or even go for a drive around the Panhandle, stories always start to whisper through my mind.

Why did you choose to write in your sub-genre?
When I began to think of writing a novel, my first love was Historical Romance. I was teaching high school and collected books during the school year to read over the summer. Historical Romances were my favorite, but there were rarely any about Texas history. I loved stories that brought to life the people of the early days of the states.  

After I wrote twenty-two of them and won three RITAs for best Historical of the year from Romance Writers of America, I thought of an idea for a book that did not fit in history. The setting was an oil town in modern-day Texas. It took me two years to write Widows of Wichita County but when I finished the book went up for bids. Every house that saw it wanted the book.

I write the people who come from the land. Small towns I understand.    

Where did your love of storytelling come from?
I come from a long line of storytellers. I remember going to my grandparents’ homes on Sundays and listening to all my aunts and uncles tell stories. Many of those stories drift through my mind and end up in books.

How long have you been writing?
I wrote for five years before I sold. Then, after dozens of rejections, I sold my first book in the fall of 1987. It came out in 1988. Since then I’ve sold at least one every year. This year marks my thirtieth to be publishing. By the end of 2018 I’ll have fifty books in print and fourteen short stories.

What do you think most characterizes your writing? 
My characters come alive. When someone finishes one of my books, they’ll feel like they know the town or ranch that I’ve written about.

What was the hardest part of writing Mornings on Main
The hardest part of writing Mornings on Main was keeping up with all the threads running through the story. When I write a town full of people everyone wants their own story. Also, I had to learn more about quilting, so I visited several groups, shops, and shows. Man, was it hard not to start quilting!  But, I had a book to write.

What did you enjoy most about writing Mornings on Main?
Talking to the quilters. Every quilt has a story. It seems like everyone in my life quilts, but I don’t. My mother told me once, “Jodi, you quilt with words.”

Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured in Mornings on Main?
Yes. Sometimes I think we all forget the value of lifelong friends in this life. That one person who has been in the background through the good times and the bad. That one person you know will stand with you when the storm hits.  

Which character from your book(s) is most or least like you?
Over the years I’ve been asked which character is me. My only answer is, “I’m all of them.” I’m the good and the bad. The great and the failure. The beautiful and the ugly. The strong and the weak. “I’m the great character I want to be. I’m the coward I fear I’ll be. I’m the writer!”

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?
I’m a full-time writer. I write two books a year. I also have a desire to help beginning writers. I love showing others the way to publication. Just paying back for all those who answered my questions. Eight years ago I started the WTAMU Writing Academy thanks to the help of West Texas A&M. For one week in June we invite writers and someday writers to come, stay in the dorms and immerse in the art and business of writing. For more information, visit

How has your formal education influenced or impacted your writing?
I have two degrees. One in Home Economics and a masters in Marriage and Family Counseling. I use both in my writing along with what I’ve learned from life. 

What projects are you working on at the present? 
 I’m working on my second book set in Laurel Springs. It will follow Morning on Main, which will be released April 10, 2018. The working title is Forever Tea.

What do your plans for future projects include?
When you spend half your life in fiction, you never know where you’re going. All I can say is I’m going to be writing.

Do you have any strange writing habits or writing rituals you’d like to share with your readers? 
Because of the movie Romancing the Stone, years ago I got this habit: When I finish a book, I stand up and say, “time to feed the cat.” Strange thing is, I no longer have a cat.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

What is one question you wish someone would ask?
I’d love it if someone would ask me if they could make a movie of one of my books.

What’s your funniest flaw?
I have no sense of direction.  

What is your favorite quote?
“Creativity is a river, not a bucket. Dive in.”

Do you have a mantra for writing and/or for life?
Always be kinder than you have to be. 

With millions of books in print, Jodi Thomas is both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 45 novels and 14 short story collections. Her stories travel through the past and present days of Texas and draw readers from around the world.

In July 2006, Jodi was the 11th writer to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. With five RITA’s to her credit, along with National Readers’ Choice Awards and Booksellers’ Best Awards, Thomas has proven her skill as a master storyteller.

Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, Thomas enjoys interacting with students at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, where she currently serves as Writer in Residence.

When not working on a novel, or inspiring students to pursue writing careers, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, renovating an historic home, and “checking up” on their grown sons and four grandchildren.




Excerpt 1
Bonus Post
Author Interview
Excerpt 2
Guest Post
Sneak Peek
Excerpt 3

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