Published by HQN Books on August 25th 2015
From New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas comes the first book in a compelling, emotionally resonant series set in a remote west Texas town—where family can be made by blood or by choice…
Rancher Staten Kirkland, the last descendent 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.
In this dramatic new series, the lives, loves and ambitions of four families will converge, set against a landscape that can be as unforgiving as it is beautiful, where passion, property and pride are worth fighting—and even dying—for.
Twenty miles away Quinn O’Grady curled into her blanket on her front porch and watched the night sky, knowing that Staten was still driving home. He always came to her like a raging storm and left as calm as dawn.
Only tonight, she’d surprised him with her request. Tonight when he’d walked away at midnight, it felt different. Somehow after five years, their relationship felt newborn.
She grinned, loving that she had made the first move. She had demanded a kiss, and he hadn’t hesitated. She knew he came to her house out of need and loneliness, but for her it had always been more. In her quiet way, she could not remember a time she hadn’t loved him.
Yet from grade school on, Staten Kirkland had belonged to her best friend, and Quinn had promised herself she’d never try to step between them. Even now, seven years after Amalah’s death, a part of Staten still belonged to his wife. Maybe not his heart, Quinn decided, but more his willingness to be open to caring. He was a man determined never to allow anyone close again. He didn’t want love in his life; he only wanted to survive having loved and lost Amalah.
PLEASE WELCOME JODI TO BOOKHOUNDS
Author of RANSOM CANYON
What was your favorite part about writing Ransom Canyon?
I grew up surrounded by family who were ranchers and farmers. I always loved the way they loved the land. They saw themselves, not as the owners, but the caretakers. I loved writing a story where the land and the weather were almost characters. When I stepped into Ransom Canyon, the characters crowded around in my mind waiting for me to tell their story.
I think people all over are pretty much the same: we love, we dream, we worry, but I heard somewhere that people in the west are like sturdy furniture with some of the bark left on.
What was the most challenging part of writing Ransom Canyon?
Making sure I got it right which wasn’t easy since I hadn’t been on a ranch or farm for more than a dinner in years. I have a dear friend with a ranch where they do it all right so I spent the seasons watching, asking questions and talking to the men who saddle up each day to go to work.
Then, I turned a little house out back of my mission home into Ransom Canyon. I posted pictures on the walls, listed family histories all the way back to the 1800’s, covered every inch of space with whiteboards to chart the facts. Every night I go out to what we call the bunk house and step into my story.
What character do you connect most with in Ransom Canyon and why?
In the first book I connected with Staten Kirkland because I know ranchers like him. I know the way he thinks and how hard he tries to do what is right and not show his feelings. Some nights, in my little room off the patio, I swear he’d be leaning over my shoulder, hat pushed back, reading every word. Laughing when I got it right. Thumping me in the back of the head when I got it wrong.
Also, I connected with Jubalee and her feelings of having used up all her chances until now she’s even afraid to hope.
I understood Quinn when she closed herself away from people and Yancy when he hid his secrets afraid no one would accept him if they knew. I knew how Carter felt following a quest that made no sense. I’m Charley loving a child more than himself.
How can I explain? When I write I’m with all the characters. I AM every one of them.
Have you ever used real events or people to inspire character or events in your novels?
I wrote my mother into a book called TWISTED CREEK years ago. I watched her go slowly into Alzheimer’s. The journey offered heartache and blessings. Even now, almost fifteen years later, I sometimes stop and watch the clouds. She’d forgotten my name those last few years, but she never lost the wonder when she looked at the sky. I figure she’s still watching, just from another direction.
Many times I’ve felt like my life was research for my writing. A tumble from a horse left me with a slight limp I have trouble hiding when I’m tired. I witnessed a robbery when I was 17 and don’t remember being afraid, only fascinated at how terrified the kid robbing the store looked. My big brother was shot in Viet Nam and it seems like that is where all my heroes take a bullet.
If you met me, you’d meet a quiet person who watches people but I never put real people in books. My sister-in-law kept bugging me to be in a book. So a few years back I put her and my big brother in a book. I made them chickens.
Would you ever write a memoir? What are your feelings about writing a memoir?
I don’t think I’d write about my life. Not all that exciting. I married my first love, raised two sons and they blessed us with four grandchildren. I like traveling, working in my flower garden, teaching my oldest grand who is 6 to sew and my 4 year-old to cook.
If I did write a book it would be about my journey into writing. What it’s like to have a dream so strong you give up sleep for five years before you have any success. How it feels to live your life in two worlds every day. I think I’d call it RARE AIR, because I believe writers develop in rare air. I don’t think you can educate or make a writer. I think they evolve.
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.
“My door is usually open to students all morning,” explains Thomas, who talks to the classes at the University and on other campuses during her many speaking engagements when not writing in her spacious office in WTAMU’s Cornette Library. “They come by to visit and ask questions about being a writer. When I was a child, being a writer wasn’t an option. All the people I knew had regular jobs. I’m hoping that students will see that being a writer is a possibility. This is particularly important in these days when programs in the arts are being cut in the public schools.”
Commenting on her contribution to the arts, Thomas said, “When I was teaching classes full time, I thought I was making the world a better place. Now I think of a teacher, or nurse, or mother settling back and relaxing with one of my books. I want to take her away on an adventure that will entertain her. Maybe, in a small way, I’m still making the world a better place.”
While the author toured the country speaking to Desk and Derrick clubs about her 2003 novel, THE WIDOWS OF WICHITA COUNTY, the members of various chapters formed a Jodi Thomas Fan Club. The group enthusiastically promotes her novels and public appearances and even volunteers to provide drivers for her out-of-town engagements.
When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, Tom, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo, and “checking up” on their two grown sons.
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