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Interview With Janice Hanna Thompson

Hi, Janice, thanks for chatting with us.

You’ve done a lot of writing over the years, with romance and historical romance being your favorite genres, can you share a bit about how you decided on these genres and when you began to pursue writing as a career?

I started writing as a youngster. In fact, I wrote my first book in 6th grade and wrote a play/sketch that was performed by several actors/singers (including yours truly) my senior year in high school. After that, I was asked to write a screenplay with my dad. I was eighteen at the time. I didn’t know if I had it in me, but I gave it my best shot. I started writing books in 1994. It started so innocently. I wanted to craft a story about each of my daughters, something I could leave as a legacy. Out of that venture came four books. From there, I went on to write a non-fiction book, then a full-length novel. (None of these books ever sold, by the way. I feel that’s worth mentioning.) By the late ‘90s, I knew that I wanted to write for publication. I started submitting, submitting, submitting! My first novel (a suspense/thriller titled Duty to Die) was published in 2000. Since then I’ve been blessed to write in nearly every genre.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
My friendship with Patti Rosser (a fellow writer) played a huge role in my journey toward publication. In the mid-nineties she “saw” something in me/my writing and invited me to attend a local writing group. Shortly thereafter, she encouraged me to go to Mt. Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference with her. The rest, as they say, is history.

After that first sale, I’ve heard some authors say they experience fear that they may not be able to sell another book. You’ve certainly proven that’s not true! Did you experience any fears or doubts at the beginning of your career?
Oh, heavens yes. There are still dry seasons, when I wonder if that next book will get picked up. I honestly think God uses the dry seasons to water us, Himself. What I mean by that is this: so often we lean on our own understanding, and our own knowledge of the craft. During the dry seasons, we have no choice but to fully lean on God. I hear He likes it when we do that. ☺

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities as a mother and grandmother?
I never feel like I have enough quality family time. And when I’m with family, the emails are coming through on my phone, as well as calls/texts from fellow writers, publicists, editors, agent, bloggers, etc. The workload for a published author is huge. Sometimes I just have to turn off the phone and get down on the floor with the babies and play. I also spend a lot of time at Chick-fil-a in the play area. If the phone goes off while I’m in there. . .well, it can just wait.

And how do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
My faith is integral to my storytelling. I wouldn’t waste my time (or the readers’ time) telling stories if I couldn’t share a nugget of truth (a clear takeaway) in each tale. I always try to plant a spiritual story/thread inside of every book I write. One thing that some readers have noted about my books is this: I don’t tack on the spiritual. It’s there, from page one to page 322. I try not to use an “over the top” approach because I want people of every faith (or no faith) to pick up my novels and feel comfortable. However, to pull the spiritual thread out would be to unravel the whole story. You will never see a story from me that leaves out the faith journey.

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
Oh wow. I’ve never been asked this question before. I guess I could mention the couple of times my books have been nominated for national awards. Or maybe the time I won “Mentor of the Year” at ACFW. I was nominated for Pacesetter at Mt. Hermon one year. That was really cool. And of course, that first phone call from an editor saying, “We want your book and we’re going to pay you an advance!” was over-the-top. I’d love to tell you about the day my agent, Chip MacGregor, called to say that Revell wanted to buy six books (the “Weddings by Bella” series and the “Backstage Pass” series).

Still, there’s one moment that rises above all the rest. It happened on a day when I was really down about my writing. My oldest daughter Randi called and said, “Mom, I’m reading the best book ever. You’re not going to believe how much I love this amazing story.” She went on and on, raving about some book she was reading. At the end of her gushing, she added, “Oh, and it’s yours! I’m reading the last Bella book!” I could’ve dropped my teeth! (Well, if they’d been fake, anyway.) She really, really loved my story! And she told me on a day when everything around me seemed to be crumbing, when I wondered if any readers anywhere noticed me anymore. So, truly, that was the greatest moment of my writing career thus far.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
I am a product of my environment. I can’t go out to dinner, out to an airport, out to visit friends, without story ideas surfacing. I taught creative writing for years, so I trained my students (and myself) to look for stories. . .everywhere!

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
Most all of my stories are birthed out of something comedic. Many people don’t know this, but I was a playwright long before I started writing books. I wrote musical comedies for the stage. There’s nothing more satisfying for a writer than sitting in a theater packed with patrons who are laughing (in the right places) at something you’ve written. Jackpot!

If there was anything you could change about your writing journey, what would it be?
I probably would have settled on my “Love, Laughter and Happily Ever Afters” tagline earlier.

Any parting words?
If you’re struggling to know where you fit in as a writer, (or wondering if you’ll ever be published) send me a little note at I’d love to share some information about my writing courses ( because I know, know, know they’re just the ticket for writers trying to get their foot in the door.

Thanks for sharing with us, Janice!
You’re welcome! I enjoyed this interview!

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