USM Alum, Author talks debut novel


Julia Brewer Daily poses with her newest novel, “The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch.” | McKenzie Baird Photography

Julia Brewer Daily, an award-winning author and Southern Miss alum, is scheduled to debut her new novel ‘The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch’ on Nov. 1, 2022. 

Daily is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. Her birth mother placed her for adoption at a maternity home and she was adopted at two months old and spent her childhood in Mount Olive. 

Being just 30 minutes away from the USM Hattiesburg campus, she chose that to be her college home. Daily graduated in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in English and education, and in 1987, she graduated with her master’s degree in education administration.  

Daily said the campus was much smaller in the 1970s, easy to walk, and always filled with friendly people. She credits her success in her education to USM, the professors and her advisors. 

“The flexible schedules our advisors forged for us non-traditional students were crucial as we held jobs, studied and reared our children simultaneously,” Daily said. 

According to, Daily was the founding director of the Greater Belhaven Market, a producers’ only market in a historic neighborhood in Jackson and shadowed Martha Stewart. As the Executive Director of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi, she wrote their stories to introduce them to the public. 

Daily has been a writer in every position she has worked. She was accustomed to writing press releases, president’s speeches and touting education programs.  

Fiction, however, sparked an interest within Daily. She began to take classes, attend writer’s retreats and conferences where she was able to create a network of people who shared in her success.  

Daily is also a member of the Writers’ League of Texas, the Women Fiction Writers’ Association, the San Antonio Writers’ Guild and the Women’s National Book Association.  

“I join professional organizations to feed myself creatively from the community of writers and those on the same path,” Daily said. “We support each other, volunteer on boards and committees and pay it forward for those a little farther back on the journey.” 

Daily previously wrote a novel named ‘No Names to be Given’. It was inspired when she searched and found her birth mother. 

“I thought at the time it would make a good story because few if any, searched for biological families. I discovered a Napoleonic law still in the books in New Orleans that stated an adoptive child could inherit from natural parents. You can’t inherit from someone you don’t know, which became the loophole that opened my original records,” Daily said. “I took writing classes after finding my birth mother and wrote a few of the chapters that made their way into the novel, but it was not until I retired and had unencumbered time that I finished the book.” 

‘No Names to be Given’ has won twelve awards in total, including the International Impact Book Award, the NYC Big Book Award, The Historical Fiction Company Award, an American Writing Awards Finalist, the Authors’ Circle Fiction Book of the Year, and several number one best-seller categories on Amazon.  

 “I hope ‘The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch’ is as well-received,” Daily said. “It is always an honor to have work recognized by peers or organizations, especially readers who reach out to me to let me know they enjoyed my work.” 

‘The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch’ was inspired by when she and her husband moved to Texas. 

“I became enamored with vast Texas ranches that have been in the same family for multiple generations, so my second novel is about one of those,” Daily said. “I was intrigued by the ancient ruins at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, where no one knows what happened to the people who lived there. I was amazed by the condo-like cave system and wondered why they would have left—sickness, warfare or drought. They could have moved to Texas and onto a million-acre ranch like the Thorn, where they could exist without detection. Those thoughts led me to introduce The People into my story.” 

The setting for ‘The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch’ takes place in southwest Texas on the border of Mexico and the United States, with the Rio Grande River running through the property. The scene is a harsh landscape with skyscraping cliffs and excruciating heat.  

“Julia Daily builds a captivating world by letting her imagination lead the way. The result? A unique story that’s a little Wild West, a little old Mexico, a little ancient history, and a lot rebellious — in all the most interesting of ways. What happens when a strong-willed ranching heiress crosses a line she never knew existed? An adventure that’s bigger than Texas,” New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of ‘Perennials’, Julie Cantrell said. 

Daily shares that writing novels is her new career. She has been working since the age of 18. Daily strives the most when she is faced with a project. She said that she will never stop working and that to have readers find you, you must write many books. 

Readers wanting to purchase Daily’s novels can request either book from a library or buy it from Amazon or any online bookstore. The books are available in Jackson, Lemuria Bookstore, Pass Books in Pass Christian and Octavia Books in New Orleans, but any bookstore will order if asked.