Janice Hanna (also published as Janice Thompson) has published more than seventy novels and non-fiction books. She has also published more than fifty magazine articles and several musical comedies for the stage. Janice makes her home in the Houston area near her children and grandchildren.
As if she weren’t busy enough, Janice also teaches writing, and I was in her online course for the American Christian Fiction Writers group in June (they welcome non-US members, too, for those who know I’m Canadian.)
Janet: Janice, thanks for stopping by today. To get us started, what’s something random we may not know about you?
Janice: 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.)
Janet: Ouch! I’ll bet that was funnier in the book than in real life. Why do you like writing comedies with strong take-aways?
Janice: 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.
Janet: Please tell us a bit more about the plot of Love Finds You in Groom, Texas (Summerside/ Guideposts, June 2011).
Janice: 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!
Janet: Groom is a wedding-themed book. Why do you write so many stories with a strong wedding theme?
Janice: 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!
Janet: What is it about your lead character that will make your readers care about her?
Janice: Readers will care about Anne because she’s been through so much and still chooses to move forward. They will also love her relationship with her younger sisters. She’s the only remaining parental figure and takes that position very seriously.
Janet: Tell us a little about your hero? Is he true hero material?
Janice: Jake is a hunka-hunka Texas man! He’s a railroad man who loves his job, loves his family and loves the heroine. He’s got a great sense of humor, which is perfect for this story, because the heroine’s little sisters are loaded with antics! Jake has a lot to deal with: he’s the town’s last single man, which has made him the brunt of many a joke. His older brothers (all married with children) taunt and tease. Jake can never catch a break. Unless he’s with Anne, of course. Then he catches far more than a break… he catches the woman of his dreams!
Janet: Are any of your characters patterned after real people?
Janice: The characters are patterned more after characters than real people. I wanted the overall “feel” of the book to be a bit like that in “Anne of Green Gables.” If the reader is paying attention, he/she will notice a few Avonlea-esque images, including my heroine’s name. There are also a few nods to “Meet Me in St. Louis” in this story, as well.
Janet: The “Anne” books are set in Prince Edward Island, Canada. That’s practically next door to me. One more reason for me to read Love Finds You in Groom, Texas. What sorts of transformations take place in this book?
Janice: How much time do you have? (Ha!) Seriously, there are so many! The heroine, Anne, has been through tremendous losses and struggles with her faith from the get-go. By the end of the story, she is a woman transformed. Likewise, the hero has been through far too much taunting and teasing. He, too, has faced losses. With Anne’s hand in his, transformation comes. Even precocious Emily, Anne’s younger sister, goes through a bit of a metamorphosis as the story progresses. The biggest change of all, however, is in Uncle Bertrand. I don’t want to give away too much. You’ll have to read the story to see for yourself!
Janet: Sounds like a plan! Anything else you want our readers to know?
Janice: 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.
Janet: What’s the last book you read that you would recommend?
Janice: I was completely blown away by Judy Christie’s book Wreath, about a teen girl who lives on her own. I can’t tell you the last time a character impacted me like Wreath did. I read the book for endorsement. I’m pretty sure it releases in a month or two. Can’t wait to see what readers think!
Janet: Where else can readers find you online?
Janice: I love to connect with my readers at the following places:
Janet: Now that you’ve hooked me, where can I get the book?
Janice: Love Finds You in Groom, Texas can be purchased at any number of online stores, as well as my website (front page, scroll down). Readers can always join my VIP bookclub and get the locked in price of $11 (no shipping fee for Continental USA) by contacting me directly. [Contact Janice for international rates]
Janet: Thanks so much for stopping by, and keep those books coming. We can always use a bit more encouraging comedy!
Janice: Thanks for spending time with me! I had a blast!