“I was pregnant with my first child, weeks away from delivering Lila,” she says. “My parents were there, and we wanted to be there and raise our kids there.”
She grew up in North Royalton as Andrea Pacione, attended Bowling Green State University and met Jim Thome in 1995 while working as a sports reporter for WOIO/WUAB. She went on to anchor the morning and noon news for WKYC Channel 3 before marrying Thome in November 1998 and putting her career on hold.
But when Jim signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2002, some assumed it was all about Andrea — especially after Jim proclaimed in an emotional interview that, “My wife is my rock.”
“It was easier for people who felt like their hearts were broken to blame me,” Andrea says. “There were times it wasn’t super fun or easy, but I understand it, and it’s not about me.”
The next decade took the Thomes to Chicago, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Philadelphia, back to Cleveland for a short stint, and finally to Baltimore, where Jim ended his career in 2012. They had another child, Landon, in 2007, and Andrea focused on raising their family.
Then her mother died in 2014 at the age of 68.
“When she passed, I could feel the sands of time speed up. I felt my mortality a little more,” Andrea says. “I literally opened my computer and said, ‘Let’s see what happens.’”
What happened was Walland, a novel published in 2016 that tells the story of a news anchor (“Write what you know,” chirps Andrea) who finds love in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.
“I was coming out of a dark time and needed to tell a happy ending,” she says.
Walland, the first in the three-part Hesse Creek series, was followed by Seeds of Intention, which debuted in September. The final installment, House of Belonging, is set for release June 5.
Andrea’s photography is featured on the covers of all three books, which celebrate not only love, but also the beauty of the locations where they’re set, including the Rocky Mountains.
On a typical day, Andrea gets up at 5 a.m. to pack lunches, make breakfast and see her 14-year-old daughter off to her performing arts high school, then she takes her 10-year-old son to grade school.
While Lila always preferred music, theater and dancing, Landon has the sports bug. “He’s a fabulous little athlete,” Andrea says. “He bats left and throws right, just like his dad. It just happened naturally.”
Andrea writes from her screened-in porch in suburban Chicago while her kids are at school. She’s already looking forward to her next project — another series, which may be set in the Pacific Northwest.
“I’m a mountain person,” she says.
With the kids, her writing and Jim’s career, life is good. In addition to working in the front office for the Chicago White Sox, Jim started as a studio analyst this summer for the MLB Network. In 2018, Jim will be eligible for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
“We love Cleveland and come back as much as we can,” Andrea says. “If, God willing, Jim gets into get into the Hall of Fame, he’ll be wearing an Indians hat proudly.”