Janice is one of my most favorite people in the world. Welcome, Janice. How did this book come about?
I received a call from editor Susan Downs, who shared an idea she had for a series of books titled Belles and Whistles. The books in this series, she explained, must be historical, set in the west, with funny, quirky female characters. Because I write romantic comedy, she thought I would be perfect. I quickly put together a proposal for six books and two were picked up right away: Wedding Belles and Sleigh Belles. I was commissioned to write Wedding Belles first and had a blast doing so! The basic premise for the book was developed before I started writing, but something significant happened along the way to change my plans drastically. I needed a sneaky reason for Lottie Sanders (my heroine) to bring a group of women to Estes Park Colorado as potential brides for the town’s men. About a week after I got the contract for this book, I went to a local restaurant that happened to be hosting a melodrama during the dinner hour. As I watched the drama take place, I realized this was my answer! Lottie would write and direct a melodrama to raise funds for Parker Lodge (owned by the young man she secretly loves). Out of that came the rest of this fun, melodramatic tale!
Tell us about the book’s cover and what makes it unique.
Because Lottie is a tomboy, she’s not much for dresses. She wears pants most of the time. The men in Estes Park make it their mission to get Lottie “gussied up and lookin’ like a lady” as the story progresses. Of course, she’s still pretty attached to her cowgirl boots, so giving those up isn’t an option.
Please explain and differentiate between what’s fact and fiction in the book.
I drove to
while working on
this book. Even though I had been many times before, I needed to see the area
again so that I could envision it through Lottie’s eyes. The wonderful people
at the Estes Park Museum spent a great deal of time with me, talking about the
history of the area and pointing me to just the right research books to write.
So, I would like to think I’ve got most of the historical elements right. I
added the Stanley Hotel, of course, and the Stanley Steamer. But the setting
for my story is Parker Lodge (which is completely fictional). Estes
How much research did you have to do for this book?
As I mentioned above, I drove to
Colorado to learn all I could about the
area. Because I’m passionate about photography, I took dozens of pictures of
the area. I particularly enjoy my trek up into Rocky Mountain National Park,
where I did my best to absorb all I could about the scenery.
What are some of the most interesting things you found about this subject that you weren’t able to use in the story?
I learned a lot about the health benefits of living in
Colorado! Did you know
that Freelan Stanley (the man who designed/built the Stanley Hotel) came to
Colorado at his doctor’s recommendation because he had tuberculosis? His health
improved dramatically while in Estes Park.
What inspired and surprised you while you were writing the book?
I was directly inspired by the team of actors and actresses (here in
who performed the melodrama. That little “spark” of inspiration completely
changed the layout of my story and allowed me to tap into one of my strengths:
directing. Many people don’t know that I spend part of my time working as a
director at a local Christian theater and I love anything and everything about
putting on shows.
What do you hope the reader takes away from the story?
Two things: I hope they see Lottie as the precious girl she is. I also hope they learn that perceptions are just that. . .perceptions. They’re not fact. Sometimes we look at situations and think we’ve got them figured out. When we give them a second look (and a third) we realize we were dead wrong.
What is the next project you’re working on?
I’m just wrapping up a novel titled Queen of the Waves (about the Titanic).
What do you do when you have to get away from the story for a while?
I spend time with my grandbabies. I have six darling grandbabies with number seven on the way.
Please give us the first page of the book.
A Reckoning in the Rockies
Estes Park, prepare to be razzle-dazzled! Parker Lodge, located on the beautiful Fall River, continues to offer the best entertainment in town. This month’s event is certainly no exception. Join us this coming Friday evening, April 27, for a rousing performance by local musician Jeb Otis, who will play several well-known ballads and folk tunes on his saw. Otis, who hails from the Estes Valley region, will be appearing at the lodge for one night only, performing before a packed house. C’mon out and share in an evening of fine food, rousing entertainment, and heartfelt fellowship. Front-row seating for the first ten guests to arrive. —Your friends at Parker Lodge
Estes Park, Colorado, 1912
“Jeb Otis says he’s going to jump off
Longs Peak and end it all.”
“What?” Lottie Sanders looked up from the rippling waters of Fall River into her boss’s worried eyes. “He’s going to end it all? Why-ever would he do that?”
“Oh, you know how he is.” Gilbert Parker plopped down next to her and sighed. “Melodramatic. Always wanting attention. Just like the other men in this town. He’s frustrated because the Widow Baker won’t give him the time of day, so I guess this is how he plans to remedy the problem.”
“He’s going to remedy the problem by taking his life?” Lottie swallowed hard. “Won’t that defeat the purpose?”
“Who knows?” Gilbert offered a little shrug, and a hint of a smile turned up the edges of his lips. “But if it’s any consolation, I reminded him that he’s got a concert coming up this Friday evening, so maybe he’ll wait till after then to do himself in.”
“One can hope.” Lottie thought about the many times Jeb and the other fellas who frequented the lodge had posed such ludicrous threats. How weary she’d grown of their antics. “What’s it going to take to convince Jeb that he and Althea Baker are as different as night from day, anyway?” she asked. “They would make a terrible match. I’m surprised he can’t see that for himself.”
“True.” Gilbert released a sigh. “But I guess it’s true what they say—love is blind.”
“Mm-hmm.” It’s blind, all right.
I’m going to love this book. How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website: www.janicehannathompson.com
Facebook: Janice Hanna Thompson
Twitter: booksbyjaniceMy online courses: www.freelancewritingcourses.com
Thank you, Janice, for visiting with us today. I love your new photo and your cover.
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WEDDING BELLES - paperback
Wedding Belles - Kindle
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