Please tell us three random things we might not know about you.
My dad was the president of the University of Houston Cougar Cagers Club, so my birthdays, holidays, etc. were spent at basketball games. Our family traveled to Mexico with the U of H Cougars to watch them compete, which was great fun. When I was eleven, I got to play (for fun, of course) with the Harlem Globetrotters, who came to Houston for a visit. To this day, I love a good basketball game.
I once lied to a fellow camper at church camp, telling her that my dad (Billy Hanna) was William Hanna of Hanna/Barbara (Flintstones) fame. That lie still haunts me, though, to his credit, my dad did eventually work as a movie producer on our co-authored movie, Liar’s Moon. (Yes, it’s true. I got to meet and work with Matt Dillon. Eat your heart out, girls!)
I occasionally bake wedding cakes. In 2009 I baked a lovely four-tiered white cake with strawberry filling and cream cheese frosting that toppled less than an hour before the wedding. I managed to piece together two very messy/ugly layers. Thankfully, the bride did not murder me. It made for a great scene in a later book. (Nothing ever gets wasted, not even a mashed piece of cake.)
Please tell us a bit more about the plot of Love Finds You in Groom, Texas.
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.
Tell us something interesting about the town of Groom:
Groom boasts a nineteen-story high cross. More than 100 welders worked together to erect it in 1995. Now you can see why I toyed with the idea of writing a contemporary novel! I wanted to include the cross. Because I went with historical, I decided to give the heroine a small cross necklace to wear, one that symbolizes her faith (and alludes to the “bigger” cross to come).
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!
Why will readers enjoy your novel besides the hunky man on the cover?
In spite of the lead character’s tough situation, the story is filled with comedic elements. Anne’s two younger sisters are a hoot. So is Maggie (the hero’s mother). She’s an Irish spitfire! I think readers will appreciate the romance between Anne and Jake. It’s filled with all sorts of sweet and comic moments.
Why do you like writing comedies with strong take-aways?
Comedy is a great outlet. We comedians can get away with a lot more than authors who play it straight. Want the reader to walk away with a little nugget of truth? Couch it in something humorous. I’ve found that light-hearted writing not only suits my personality, it’s the perfect vehicle for sharing the gospel.
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.
And a side note to this answer, my Love Finds You book, Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, just won the Will Rogers Medallion Award for excellence in western fiction.
What are you working on now?
I just turned in Love Finds You in Daisy, Oklahoma, a fun historical about a single woman in her late 30’s who moves from the Gulf Coast to the landlocked state of Oklahoma to become the director at an orphanage. It’s a love story, of course! She falls in love with the town sheriff, who has adopted two of the unruliest boys from the orphanage. I’m currently writing Wedding Belles, the first book in the Belles and Whistles series for Summerside/Guideposts.
What are your favorite things to do (besides writing)?Honestly? I love hanging out with my grandbabies. They grow up so quickly and I don’t want to miss a thing! Maddy is four now. She’s the oldest. Avery is three. Peyton is three. Ethan is two. Boston is one and a half and baby Brooke turned one this week. I love them so very much. They keep me young (and give me plenty of fodder for books).
And they're very cute, too. I notice you write under two names (Janice Hanna and Janice Thompson). Why?
Those who’ve been reading my romances over the past several years know me as Janice A. Thompson. My joy is mixed with a smidgeon of sorrow as I explain the change in my last name for some of my current releases. In 2006 I lost my father to bone marrow cancer. His last name (Hanna) is my maiden name—and it’s a name that means even more to me now that he is gone. In memory of my father, I use the Hanna name in my historicals. My Revell books will still release under Janice Thompson. I hope you my readers will stick with me, no matter which name I use!
I understand you have a new VIP bookclub. Can you tell us about that?
Yes, I’m so excited about this, too! I came up with this idea several months ago: Why not create a “club” where members can get each new Janice Thompson/Janice Hanna book as it releases for a set price of $11, shipping included. Books are autographed and mailed out to club members before they ever hit the stores. I also encourage my VIP club members to leave reviews, as they are able, on amazon, christianbook.com and www.barnesandnoble.com. If people are interested in joining the club, all they have to do is shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the words “VIP bookclub” in the subject line and their address in the body of the email.
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.
Where else can readers find you online?
I love to connect with my readers at the following places:www.facebook.com/jhannathompson
Thanks for spending time with me! I had a blast!
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