Carol Cox is the author of more than twenty novels and novellas. Like many of her characters, she experiences the joys and quirks of small town life. From her back porch, she watches spectacular sunsets and catches glimpses of antelope and deer, as well as the occasional javelina.
In her “spare” time, she is a pastor’s wife, a home schooling mom, and a grandmother. In addition to pastoring two churches, her husband of thirty-plus years owns and operates the Davis Leather Company. They reside in northern Arizona.
Your description of Arizona—and the view from your front porch—is evidence that you love to write. What sparked your writing journey?
My mother taught me to read before I was old enough to start school, and from that point on, I’ve been fascinated by books. I love everything about them—the heft of a volume in my hand, the smell of the ink and the paper, and the faraway places I can visit through the written word. Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a part in bringing stories to life.
How does your faith play into your writing?
As writers, our worldview will always be reflected in our work, no matter what our background or belief system. It’s a natural outpouring of who we are, the way we think, and what we believe.
I am a Christian who believes in God’s grace and His redemptive love for humanity. Because that belief is so much a part of me, those themes permeate the books I write—not as a means of bashing readers over the head with some sort of “truth hammer,” but as a natural outpouring of who I am.
Has God ever provided an unexpected “detour” in your life that turned out to be positive?
More times than I can count! Sometimes my life seems more full of detours than straight lines. : ) Here’s one of my favorites:
At the end of my senior year in high school, I had every intention of attending a local community college with a number of my high school friends. One evening, a friend invited me to her church to watch a performance her youth group was putting on. At that time, I was very new in my relationship with Christ, and seeing the love those teens had for the Lord made a deep impression on me. By the end of the service, I felt God was urging me to go to the Christian college several of those young people (including my friend) planned to attend.
That fall, instead of joining my high school buddies at the community college, I started classes at Grand Canyon College, where I knew a total of one person. On my first day there, I fell into a conversation with a good-looking guy in my drama class. It turned out we’d signed up for the same courses, so we continued to talk as we went from one class to another . . . and to chapel . . . and to play rehearsals . . . To make a long story short, we got married at the end of my junior year, and we’ve kept on talking ever since!
Let’s talk about your new book, Love in Disguise (Bethany House, June 2012). Please tell us about it.
Writing this book was fun from the very beginning. I’ve always been intrigued by stories featuring a master of disguise, but I needed a character who had just the right combination of skills and personality. When Ellie Moore took shape in my mind, with her background in the theater and thirst for adventure, I knew I’d found a heroine who had all the qualifications to carry it off.
Here’s what the back cover copy has to say:
Can she solve the crime before they uncover her true identity?
Jobless and down to her last dime, Ellie Moore hears about a position with the Pinkerton Detective Agency and believes it’s the perfect chance to put her acting skills and costumes to use. Reluctantly, the agency agrees to give her one assignment, one chance to prove herself. Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie travels to Arizona to begin her investigation. When the need arises, she also transforms into the dazzling Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk.
Mine owner Steven Pierce is going to lose his business if he can’t figure out who’s stealing his silver shipments. In his wildest dreams, he never expected to receive help from a gray-haired widow . . . or to fall in love with her beautiful niece.
Then the thieves come after Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn’t safe no matter which character she plays! Should she give up and reveal her true identity? What will Steven do when he realizes the woman he’s falling in love with doesn’t really exist?
God often uses our stories to teach us when we’re writing them. What did you learn (about life, faith, and/or even yourself) in the process of writing this book?
Writing about Ellie’s predicament in having to play two different roles and not let her true self be seen was intended to be pure fun. What I didn’t realize until I was well into the book—and after discussing it with readers—was how much Ellie’s situation reflects the deep yearning we all have to be accepted for who we really are—not for what we look like on the surface. The experience had made me even more thankful that God knows me inside and out—and loves me anyway.
As the author of more than twenty novels and novellas, what advice would you offer to writers—young or older—who are just starting out?
I’ve said many times over the years that anyone interested in making writing a career should look at it as a marathon, not a sprint, and that advice still holds true. No matter how much natural talent a writer may have, there is a learning curve to be mastered in order to succeed on a professional level . . . and that takes time. That training can be achieved in a number of ways—writing organizations, writers conferences, critique groups, and personal mentoring, to name a few. Take advantage of the opportunities that are offered and rejoice that so many of them exist. There is so much more networking and support available for the aspiring author today than there was when I started out!
A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
A Dairy Queen Blizzard—either Georgia Mud Fudge or Double Chocolate Cookie Dough. Sometimes a combination of the two, when the guy behind the counter is in the mood to be creative. Not exactly health food, but I order the mini size, which helps me feel less guilty. And it definitely carries the comfort factor. I’m just grateful that our nearest DQ is nearly twenty miles away!
This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?
As a child, I longed to play the piano and the guitar. Somehow I wound up taking accordion lessons for ten years. You read that right—ten long years. And during that time, I was part of an accordion marching band. Take a moment to close your eyes and picture that. Yep, it’s every bit as “interesting” as you can imagine.
As the Decade of the Accordion drew to a close, my parent relented and let me take piano lessons during my senior year in high school. Sheer bliss! I’ve been intrigued by other instruments as well and have acquired a few along the way—a guitar, a mountain dulcimer, and an assortment of pennywhistles. Recently I saw a psaltery featured on a friend’s blog, and I’ve been itching to get my hands on one!
If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?
I’d love to be a song that inspires. Something sparkling, light, and lilting that would bring joy to people’s lives and show them the hope that only God can bring.
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
I’m probably most like the girl next door—not the flashiest person on the block, but always there to help sort through a problem or celebrate a victory. I’ve tried more than once to be the super heroine, but I have only a tattered cape and skinned knees to show for my efforts.
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.
Since you’re partial to dogs, you would have loved Max, our black Lab. He came to us at age three when his former owners couldn’t care for him anymore, and he fit right into our family from the moment he walked through the front door.
And the funny thing is, while we may have provided a haven for Max in his time of need, he repaid us above and beyond everything we did for him through his steadfast devotion to every member of our family.
Max made it his mission in life to do anything he could to please us and offer his unconditional love. All he asked in return were regular meals and a bit of affection. He was happy just to be around us, sharing and enjoying our company.
His only flaw, if you could call it that, was that he hated to be left at home alone. Whenever we got ready to leave, he would make a beeline for our minivan and hop in without a moment’s hesitation. The destination wasn’t important—he knew that wherever we went, he’d be with us . . . and that was all that mattered.
I’ve often thought of Max’s example as a beautiful picture of the way I should relate to the Lord—with the same kind of trust, contentment, and joy in His presence.
Thanks, Carol! That’s a beautiful analogy! Thank you for being my guest at DivineDetour.
Thank you so much for having me, Kathy! It’s been a pleasure to spend time with you and your readers!
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For more information about Carol, visit her website at http://authorcarolcox.com/.
To purchase Love in Disguise logon to:
I so enjoyed getting to know Carol better.
I love the cover of her latest book — absolutely beautiful. And the premise of the story is marvelous.
Enjoyed reading her detour story too.
Thanks, Beth! Kathy posed some wonderful questions, and it was great fun doing the interview.
And I appreciate your comments on the book!!
I agree, Beth. Great premise and a beautiful cover. Carol, I was thrilled to have you as a guest this week.