Meet Janice Thompson {Author Interview}

Meet Janice Hanna (Thompson), author extrodiaire. Janice has published more than 70 books, many magazine articles, and a handful of musical comedies. She’s an active part of the writing community in Texas.

Janice popped by to talk about her newest book, Love Finds You in Groom, Texas. Before we jump into the interview, here’s a little bit about the book.

Always the groomsman, never the groom… It’s 1914, and Jake O’Farrell has gained an unusual reputation among the locals: He’s played the roles of groomsman and best man in all four of his older brothers’ weddings, but he’s never been able to find the woman to capture his heart. And now with the upcoming wedding of his best friend, Jake will become the last single man in the town of Groom.

Anne Denning has made the difficult decision to move with her sisters to Texas, but a train derailment forces them to seek shelter in Groom, near Amarillo. Mrs. O’Farrell, hopeful that Anne will catch her youngest son’s eye, invites the girls to stay at her home until the train is repaired and ready to pull out. Anne has no idea of the blissful chaos that lies ahead!

Why did you decide to write this story?
My editor at Summerside approached me with the name of the town because she knows I write a lot of wedding-themed stories. She wanted something lightweight/fun, and she knew me well enough to know I would enjoy a fun story. The only real question we had in the beginning stage was: “Should this be a historical or a contemporary?” We went with historical because I felt sure the story idea was better suited to the turn of the century.

What is your favorite memory of the Texas panhandle region?
Just one? I love, love, love Palo Duro Canyon, which is not terribly far from Groom. This breathtaking canyon always surprises visitors because you don’ t see it coming! Look to your right and see nothing. Then, a few yards up the road, look to your right again and you see a crevice forming. That crevice deepens, then deepens some more until…lo and behold! You’ re looking at one of God’ s most magnificent “ sweeps of a fingertip.” Truly glorious. One of my favorite memories was taking my daughters to see the play “ Texas” in Palo Duro Canyon when they were little. We camped overnight in the state park, ate BBQ and saw the show. Amazing!

Groom is a wedding-themed book. Why do you write so many stories with a strong wedding theme?
I have four grown daughters—Randi, Megan, Courtney Rae and Courtney Elizabeth. Yes, I really have two daughters named Courtney. (Long story!) All four of my girls got married within four years of each other. We’ re told to write what we know. I know weddings, trust me! I helped coordinate all four weddings and even worked as a wedding coordinator at my church for a season. I was also tickled to be the  “Wedding Planner Examiner” for the city of Houston for a spell. What fun! You’ ll see me writing about weddings for years to come, so hang on for the ride!

Are any of your characters patterned after real people?
The characters are patterned more after characters than real people. I wanted the overall “ feel” of the book to be a bit like that in “ Anne of Green Gables.” If the reader is paying attention, he/she will notice a few Avonlea-esque images, including my heroine’ s name. There are also a few nods to “ Meet Me in St. Louis” in this story, as well.
What sorts of transformations take place in this book?
How much time do you have? (Ha!) Seriously, there are so many! The heroine, Anne, has been through tremendous losses and struggles with her faith from the get-go. By the end of the story, she is a woman transformed. Likewise, the hero has been through far too much taunting and teasing. He, too, has faced losses. With Anne’ s hand in his, transformation comes. Even precocious Emily, Anne’ s younger sister, goes through a bit of a metamorphosis as the story progresses. The biggest change of all, however, is in Uncle Bertrand. I don’ t want to give away too much. You’ ll have to read the story to see for yourself!

You’ve written other Love Finds You books in the past. Do you enjoy writing for this series? Why or why not?
I can’ t say enough about this line of books. From the moment the first book released, I fell in love—with the authors, the covers, the stories, the settings. Most of all, I love the concept. Through these stories, the reader can travel all over the country, bouncing from town to town, city to city. Want a serious historical? You’ ll find it in the Love Finds You series. Want a humorous contemporary? You’ ll find that, too. Want a book set in a quirky, fun town? Yep. You’ ll find it in the Love Finds You series. Want a story set in a remote, faraway place, filled with intrigue? You’ ll find that, too.

Can you tell our readers about your recent road trip? Where did you go, and why?
In May of 2011, I went on a cross-country road trip to twelve different states. The goal, (as it relates to books, anyway) was to hit several key spots where I could speak to writers and teach on the subject of our God-given uniqueness. I also researched several locales for my new “ Belles and Whistles” series while on the road. I took my mom along for the ride, and what a ride it was! We spent twenty-three days on the road, traveling from Texas to Oklahoma to Kansas to Colorado to Wyoming to Montana to Washington to Idaho to Utah to Arizona to New Mexico, then back to Texas. We met some amazing writers and readers along the way, and even got to spend a little time with my daughter, son-in-law and grandbabies in Montana. What a blast!
Anything else you want our readers to know?
Yes, I’ m very passionate about my faith, which is why I write Christian books. I could no more leave out the faith elements than I could stop eating chocolate. They are integral…to my stories and my life. I’ m a huge believer in stirring up the gifts that God has placed inside of us, which is what I hope to do through my teaching.
Any suggestions for writers who are trying to get published?
Learn the craft. Take courses. Go to conferences. Do the work. But don’ t ever let what you’ ve learned rob you of your natural, God-given voice. There’ s only one you, after all.

Where can I get the book?
Love Finds You in Groom, Texas can be purchased at any number of online stores, as well as my website: www.janicehannathompson.com (front page). Readers can always join my VIP bookclub and get the locked in price of $11 (no shipping) by contacting me directly at booksbyjanice@aol.com.

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