12 Stories of Homecoming: Jan Thomas

Editor’s Note: Earlier in June, Lighthouse finally moved into our exciting new home. The 12 Stories of Homecoming is a series of stories written about creatives from all walks of Lighthouse that have made us who we are today. We are endlessly grateful for the support from our community and eager to welcome you home so we can open the doors even further, together.

As a Denver native, Jan Thomas has watched her home grow and change over the years. But Lighthouse has been a constant in her life since she first took a workshop with Andrea Dupree, right when we started in 1997. 

“I’ve known since I was four years old that I wanted to be a storyteller,” said Thomas. “But that’s a hard sell to your parents. So I stuck it out in corporate America for a long time with various public relations and telecommunications positions.” 

Thomas continued taking craft workshops while she did her “real job” but found herself submitting the same chapter over and over in each workshop. 

“It was programmed in me to get that “A,” and I had a hard time moving on to a different section of a story until I felt like I had gotten that one chapter perfectly right,” said Thomas. 

But in 2016, Thomas applied for The Book Project, and everything shifted. She was no longer writing the same section over and over but instead learning new tools to build structure and get past her repetitious writer's block. 

Now, five years after graduating from The Book Project, Thomas has just published her first novel, Control Freaks. 

“Control Freaks is a perfect name for my book,” Thomas shared while laughing. “Lighthouse helped me understand that not every word I wrote was precious, and that’s a crucial step in writing a book. Going through the editing process, you’re going to rewrite a lot.” 

This week, on June 30, Thomas will hold a book launch of Control Freaks in Lighthouse’s new building. 

“I can’t imagine launching my book anywhere else because it wouldn’t have happened without Lighthouse!” said Thomas. “Bringing a book into the world is a big project; it’s exciting and fulfilling, and knowing I have people behind me at Lighthouse is amazing.” 

Thomas’ story of selling her book is a bit unusual. She submitted ten pages at a conference to her dream publisher, Levine Querido, who read her pages, gave great feedback, and told her what every writer dreams of hearing, “we want to buy your book.” Elated but unsure of what to do next, Thomas emailed Andrea with the subject line, “What do I do now?” A couple of months later, Thomas had signed with a fantastic agent and was on her way to publishing. 

“People use the word community all the time, but when it is really applicable, you can feel it,” said Thomas. “That’s how Lighthouse feels to me. I feel comfortable here and am so grateful to this community.” 

Thomas’ book is set in the Park Hill neighborhood, which is also where she lives and just a stone’s throw away from Lighthouse’s new home. “Lighthouse’s new building still has that neighborhood quality,” said Thomas. “People are looking out for each other, an aspect that is inherently Denver.” 

“After all those years in communications positions, if I didn’t strongly believe in Lighthouse, I wouldn’t say it,” shared Thomas. “The Book Project and every class I’ve taken has been transformative for me, and I am fulfilling a lifelong dream because Lighthouse walked with me on this path.”