Thursday, September 10, 2015

RANSOM CANYON: Review & Q&A with Jodi Thomas

B&N  |  KOBO
Rancher Staten Kirkland, the last descendant of Ransom Canyon's founding father, is rugged and practical to the last. No one knows that when his troubling memories threaten to overwhelm him, he runs to lovely, reclusive Quinn O'Grady…or that she has her own secret that no one living knows.

Young Lucas Reyes has his eye on the prize—college, and the chance to become something more than a ranch hand's son. But one night, one wrong decision, will set his life on a course even he hadn't imagined.

Yancy Grey is running hard from his troubled past. He doesn't plan to stick around Ransom Canyon, just long enough to learn the town's weaknesses and how to use them for personal gain. Only Yancy, a common criminal since he was old enough to reach a car's pedals, isn't prepared for what he encounters.

Q&A with Jodi Thomas
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. I once called my Aunt Dixie and asked her for her divinity recipe. Thought I’d enclose it for you all. Click to download!

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 online 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.

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.

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.

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.

What are the roots of your interest in writing about cowboys? Are you a fan of old Western films (ie. 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.

A Reader's Opinion
This is the first book I've read by Jodi Thomas and I'll I can wonder is what took me so long to pick up one of her books. She's a great author who writes with wit and grit. Her characters are not only likable, but supper real-life obstacles that make them quite relatable. Staten and Quinn's story is a tender one and I found I had a vested interest in where it was going and how they would get their happily ever after. Lucas's story was a surprise enjoyment, and I was equally interested in him as I was Staten. I can't say that Yancy's story held too much interest for me, and by the time I was a little more than halfway through, I skimmed through Yancy's part. Otherwise, I was caught up in the excitement and romance of Ransom Canyon, and I look forward to reading more books in the series. 

Meet the Author
A fifth generation Texan, Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state. 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.

Website  |  Goodreads


  1. Great interview! Loved the aspiring novelist advice. :)

    1. I agree! She did a great job with the interview and offered some wonderful advice and stories.