Jodi Thomas’ Mornings on Main is a sweet, contemplative romance between two lonely souls who connect in a small Texas town. Already a favorite among romance fans for her Ransom Canyon series, which takes place in a similar setting, Thomas’ newest book combines a contemporary romance with a coming-of-age story, as well as a tender portrait of a close-knit family. We talked to Thomas about her love of small towns and why habits were made to be broken.
Describe your latest novel in a sentence.
Mornings on Main weaves the stories of three women—one who is beginning to collect memories, one who is always leaving the past behind and one who is losing a lifetime.
Before you became a novelist full time, you were a family counselor. Did you bring your expertise to bear in this book?
I think everything I’ve done or studied in my life has become research for my writing.
You’re known for setting your books in small towns in Texas. Why does that particular type of place inspire you so much?
It’s partly because I’ve always lived in small towns and love and understand the people, the way their lives blend and influence one another’s. Also, every summer when I was a kid I used to visit a small town (4,000 people) where I had five sets of aunts and uncle plus dozens of cousins. My uncle always left a horse saddled for me in the backyard so I could go anywhere. I felt free and safe. Maybe in my small town stories, I’m going back to that place.
Why do you think Jillian has never deviated from the way of life she learned from her father?
I think most of us fall into patterns in our lives. Habit outweighs adventure until someone comes along and wakes us up. That’s what happened to Jillian.
Are you a crafter or quilter yourself? If you were to make a quilt with Eugenia, what would you make?
I have a quilt room in my house that has quilts from my grandmothers [going] back three generations. My mother quilted, both my sisters quilt and I do not quilt. When my mother read my first book she said, “Jodi, you quilt with words.”
Sunnie is a great example of a believable teen character—blossoming into her own independence and intelligence, but still prickly and immature at times. How did you thread that needle from a writing standpoint?
Sunnie was a hard character to write. Maybe those years of teaching high school helped me out. I loved that age.
When I first read the premise of Mornings on Main, I expected a lot of angst between Connor and Jillian, but instead, they both try their best to accept that her stay is temporary, no matter how strong their feelings towards each other are. Why did you choose to have your characters react in that way?
Connor is a good man who has always accepted his role in life. He’s settled, sometimes helping others at the cost of his own happiness. But he loves deeply with Jillian. To keep her, he’ll have to fight.
What do you like to read when you’re not reading romance?
Across the board. Reading one kind of romance would be like eating at the same restaurant every night. I love it when I find a book that I can’t put down. The whole world stops for a few hours and I step into the story.
What’s next for you?
I just finished the seventh book in the Ransom Canyon series, which will be out in September. And I’ve spent the last few weeks out in my little hideout we call the bunkhouse. A new story is taking shape on the whiteboards. I’m going back to Laurel Springs—back to Main—only this time I’m opening a tea shop. Hope my readers will drop in next spring.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our review of Mornings on Main.
(Author photo © Portraits by Tracy.)