Today I would like to welcome one of my favorite authors, Jodi Thomas, author of "Ransom Canyon" to the Reading Corner. I had a few questions for Jodi and she was kind enough to answer them for us today. I hope you all enjoy reading them...
1. Do You Cook? If so, what is your favorite dish to make?
Of course I cook. I'm Southern. Chicken fried steak. Chili. Chicken enchiladas and all the fixings that go with each. I'm known for making the best hot rolls in the family and the worst meatloaf.
2. If you had to give one piece of advice to aspiring novelists, what would it be?
Start by reading, and reading and reading. Books are like songs, they have a beat. You can only learn it by reading. Also read all you can find on writing. Most of it you'll toss out, but some will help.
Take a writing class from a working writer if you can. West Texas A&M has a great one that lasts one week. I'm the Writer in Residence there, so I drop in every day. Or find one at your library or college near home. Or take one online through one of the professional writing organizations. Then WRITE! Don't show anyone your work until you've finished a 1,000 pages. Find a critique group on line or in a writing class and start helping each other. Set goals and write. Even if you can only cut out 30 minutes a day, you can finish a book in a year.
3. What made you decide to write romance novels?
I have always loved romance. One summer when I was about fifteen, I read all my mother's collection of Harlequins and my dad's westerns. She had boxes of them. I don't think she ever threw one away. I've heard it said: Write what you'd love to read and that is what I try to do.
4. I've always wondered...how do you decide the names of characters in your novel? There are so many interesting names in Ransom Canyon, like Quinn, Staten, Yancy, etc. Do you choose the names randomly? Do you write their stories first and then assign them a fitting name? how does this process work?
Sometimes a character walks onto the page with a name. Staten Kirkland did that. When I first saw him riding across his land during a thunderstorm, I knew Staten would be his name. With Quinn, it was a little harder. I know she'd have to have an old fashioned name but not a common one. Once in a while I can't find the right name for a character and it slows down the writing. I usually solve the problem by walking through a cemetery or going down the list of most popular names for the year my character was born. For me, it's hard work finding the right name, but once I have it I rarely change.
5. Ransom Canyon is the first novel in the new "Ransom Canyon Romance" series--what can we expect from this series in the future? What made you decide to write this series?
I wanted to write the stories of a community where all the characters interact and influence one another's lives. We are all, to some extent, who we are because of the people around us. I want readers to step into this farming and ranching community and feel like this is their home town by the time they finish the series. I love writing stories about people who fall deeply, passionately in love.
6. What are the roots of your interest in writing about cowboys? Are you a fan of old Western films (i.e. John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Randolph Scott etc.)?
I think I've always been interested in what the cowboy stands for and I was lucky enough to grow up around strong men who lived by a code. From the time I was about eight, I'd spend part of the summers with my Uncle Leroy and my Aunt Dixie. The first day, when I woke, he'd have a horse saddled and ready for me. I laugh and say that I must have lived the school years, but most of my memories of childhood were riding Midnight and watching rodeos. The other day I was out watching the branding at a ranch near Fritch. The cowboys had all worked since dawn but when I stepped in the bunkhouse dining room for lunch, thirty of them stood waiting. I hesitated for a minute trying to figure out what was wrong. The cook whispered, "They're all waiting for you to fill your plate first. That's the way we do it around here." The code is still there. I love westerns and talking to cattlemen. I love the history and the honor of what they do. Of course they look great in their boots and jeans, but it is their strong hearts that win me over every time.
Thank you Jodi for visiting my Reading Corner today.
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