When History Inspires Fiction ~ Jodi Thomas


When I began writing TEXAS BLUE, April 2011 release with Berkley, I wanted to open with a Texas Ranger, Duncan ‘Duck’ McMurray, leaving on a secret mission.

As he says good-bye to his best friend, both men know the danger Duck faces but he comes from a long line of Texas Rangers and, much as Duck loves adventure, he loves Texas more.

His friend, a gambler named Lewton Paterson, prefers a quiet adventure of traveling to Whispering Mountain to court one of Duck’s cousins while his friend is out of town and can’t try to stop him. Though Lewt is successful in his world, he longs for a home and family, something gamblers rarely have.

Because of my love for Texas History, I knew of a raid the rangers made into Mexico to try to retrieve stolen cattle and to break up a gang of outlaws. It fit perfectly into my story.

Captain Leander McNelly organized a special force of rangers in 1875 and my character, Duncan McMurray, stepped into a time and place in history as wild as any western. It’s often said that early Texans were great fighters but poor writers, so very little facts about the raid are known. This story, like many others in Texas Legend, was passed down in the telling.

The raid they made became part of the legend of the Rangers. We do know a few men, wearing the circle star, raced across the border with guns blazing one night in 1875. When met by outlaws several times greater in numbers, McNelly made his stand and, with a great deal of brass, demanded the hundreds of head of cattle stolen be returned. Because it was night, the outlaws didn’t know how few rangers rode with Captain McNelly. By dawn cattle were driven back across the Rio Grande. More cattle, it turned out, than the rangers thought had been stolen.

You can read more about McNelly at http://www.theoutlaws.com/lawman3.htm.

I find it fascinating that McNelly, a great legend, was 5’6″ tall and thin, 130 lb. or so and suffered from tuberculosis most of his adult life.

In my story, Duncan is hurt and accidentally left behind. Without a horse and too weak to walk, he knows he’ll be killed if he doesn’t get help. An old woman dressed as a peddler finds him.  He thinks he’s saved, but soon discovers she plans to auction him off to the highest outlaw bidding.

Lewt Patterson, unaware of what has happened to his best friend, travels to Whispering Mountain to meet the single ladies of a huge ranch called Whispering Mountain. The only women he’s ever known are girls who hang around the saloons. Lewt’s first surprise is that not all women find him irresistible.

I had great fun showing what ranching life in 1875 must have been like. The two stories of Lewt and Duck come together and both men grow as they define what it means to be a real hero.

TEXAS BLUE, like most of my historical romances, was sparked from true history.  Ride along with me. I’ll bet you’ll fall in love with both men and the women strong enough to love them.

This is my fifth Whispering Mountain book and my first one of the new generation.  If you would like to see Duck and the girls as children please read TALL, DARK, AND TEXAN.

Leave a comment to get your name in the hat for an autographed copy of TEXAS BLUE.

Let me know how you like my new video.


***Jodi Thomas is the NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of 31 novels and 8 short story collections. As of July 2006, she was the 11th woman to be inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame. She is also currently serving as the Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.

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30 thoughts on “When History Inspires Fiction ~ Jodi Thomas”

  1. I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed reading the Whispering Mountain Series. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

    I also loved the wife lottery and texas brothers series.

    My favorite hands down is “The Tender Texan”

    Have a great day! I can’t wait to read this!!!!!

  2. I enjoy books that teach me something about history. I can’t wait to read Texas Blue. It is a beautiful cover.

  3. I am a huge fan and I love all of your historical books!!! If I had to pick a favorite, which would be difficult, mine would be, “Beneath the Texas Sky”. I can’t wait for this new book in the Whispering Mountain series to be released.
    Thank you for writing such great books and giving us hours of pleasure. Also love the cover.

  4. Hi everybody, thanks for stopping in. Jodi will not be near a computer for the best part of the day, but promises to check in as soon as she is free. We’re having a launch party, luncheon and booksigning this morning for her hometown fans and then she’s signing books at our local Sam’s Club, so it’ll be late. She said to tell you all, thanks for stopping by and she’ll chat with you as soon as she can. Hugs from Texas, Phyliss

  5. I love all your books. Since I have having knee replacement Monday I will have my daughter get the book for me so I can read it while I am house bound. Am looking forward to the third book in the Harmony series.

  6. Pageturner, I agree that this is one of her best covers. It’s just beautiful. Nothing says Texas quite like bluebonnets.

    Sherry, The Tender Texas is also one of my favorites. It was the first Jodi Thomas I read and it truly had a fan out of me. I’ve read every single release of hers. She has such amazing talent.

  7. Linda Henderson, I too love stories that not only entertain but that have historical facts interwoven through the plot. That makes a book very special. And Jodi’s books never disappoint. I can feel her love of Texas in each story. She’s really a one of kind author. Hope you enjoy Texas Blue. I can’t wait to read it.

  8. Sharon, I believe Beneath the Texas Sky is going to be re-released along with several other of her earlier books. I’m glad her publisher recognizes how special these stories are. If there’s anything Jodi loves it’s hearing from fans who love her work. It sure makes all those long hours of solitude worth it.

  9. Jodi, I really loved the book TALL,DARK, AND TEXAN, so I am looking forward to revisiting the ranch and Teagan, Jess, and the girls. (I am glad to see that Duncan isn’t “Duck” anymore.) 🙂

  10. Appleblossom, I agree that this new video is one of her best. I love the cattle-driving scene. Makes you want to run out and buy the book.

    Goldie, you can’t go wrong with a Jodi Thomas book. Great choice. Good luck with your knee surgery. Hope it goes well.

  11. I haven’t read any of this series yet but I’ve enjoyed many of your books and I’m sure this one is just as wonderful. I love hearing about the history of it all!

  12. Hi Jodi, great post.I love the cover of this book, its beautiful! I love your books and I can’t wait to get my hands on this one. Your books are always the kind of books you just don’t want to put down and go to bed, they will keep you up all night for sure. Thanks for the chance to win Texas Blue.

  13. I love books based on actual events or people. They usually seem more authentic to me. Texas Blue sounds like an exciting story. I can’t wait to read this one.

  14. I agree the cover is beautiful and makes me want to read the book. I am from Texas and when we have fall and winter rains the blue bonnets are as beautiful as the cover. I hope I win the book but if I don’t, my friend Linda Broday will loan it to me I hope…

  15. The video makes me want to go out, sit on the porch, put up my feet, and just soak in the day. Not sure if that was what you were aiming for, but that is the perfect time to open a goo western romance and enjoy it.
    Doing a dual story with two characters going in such opposite, but connected directions is a great idea. Sounds like Lewt will get a wake up call about charm and looks not being all that is important to all women. Looks like Duncan will travel a harder road. this will be a book I’ll look for and know I’ll enjoy.
    Best of luck with its release.

  16. Congrats on this newest release! Both men sound like they have interesting stories to share with us. 😀

  17. Jodi,

    I’ve been a fan for years and have loved the Whispering Mountain series. I’m looking forward to seeing Duck all grown up. I have Tall, Dark, and Texan on my keeper shelf, so I’ll have to re-read it to refresh my memory of his history. My favorite book of yours was in the wife lottery series – The Texan’s Wager. Love those strong, silent types!

    And can I just say how cool it is that you work Texas into all of your titles? Talk about branding.

    Keep the historicals coming. Love ’em!

  18. Oh my, the cover of Texas Blue is beautiful! It also sounds like a book I would truly enjoy. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy. :o)

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W. 🙂

  19. I love the cover! All these blue flowers make me wish for summer even more! 🙂 I would love to read Texas Blue.

  20. Enjoyed reading the comments. I really like the cover of your book. I have read your other books and enjoyed them.

  21. Thanks everyone for dropping by and saying such nice things. I’ve had a long day of signing and being on stage. It’s great to come home, get into my pjs and read such enduring comments.

    I’ll never stop writing historicals. I love them too much.

    My son did the video. He owns readerhook.com.

    Blessings to you all, Jodi

  22. Great video! Talent must run in the family. Your new book sounds fascinating. I love the way you blend history with great fictional characters. Can’t wait to read Duck’s and Lewt’s stories. And congratulations on the RITA nomination. Always great to see a western-themed romance up there. Good luck!

  23. I’m also looking forward to reading Duncan (Duck) and Lewt’s story. Love the eye catching blue flowers on the cover. Whispering Mountain sounds like a beautiful place to live and visit!

  24. Sharon, I agree with your choice of favorite book. And, good news … “The Tender Texan” it is being released again in November. It’s coming out about the same time as our Christmas anthology “A Texas Christmas”, so watch for both of them.

    Linda, my fellow filly, you are right. “Beneath the Texas Sky” (Jodi’s first book) is being released again next month! And, the cover is absolutely beautiful. You can see all of her re-release covers at JodiThomas.com. Go check ‘um out.

    And, Kaki good to see you here. Congratulations for being a RITA finalist in two categories with “Pieces of Sky” and “Open Country”. WOW!

    Hugs from Texas, Phyliss

    PS: I couldn’t agree more with all of you about the cover of “Texas Blue” and the bluebonnets being absolutely breathtaking!

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