1. Tell us about your newest release.
At the Edge of the Sea is a coming of age story set in a simpler time—a realistic tale told by an idealistic young man. Here’s a little blurb:
It’s 1959 — and although the country is poised at the edge of a tidal wave of social change, Billy Ray Davenport’s life is still traditional and predictable. He is spending the summer in Orchard Hill, working with the local physician before attending medical school in the fall. Billy Ray has visited the small Southern town several times when he accompanied his father, a widowed traveling minister. But this summer, he will be in town long enough to run headlong into Lizzy Quinlan, Orchard Hill’s bad girl.
As Billy Ray gets to know her, he’s surprised to find an unexpected kindred spirit behind her alluring appearance. She demonstrates indomitable inner strength, spouts quirky bursts of wisdom, and exudes a simple sensuality that intrigues him. Pitfalls await this unlikely pair, however—problems that go deeper than his strict father’s concerns or small town gossip. Lizzy’s past can’t help but shape her future, and ready or not, this beautiful and complex mystery girl is about to change Billy Ray’s life—and his heart—forever.
2. Can you tell us a little about your favorite scene in the story?
Some of my favorite scenes are the ones between Billy Ray and his father. Reverend Davenport faces some significant inner conflict in this story. His son’s relationship with the town Magdalene troubles him. Yet, in many ways, his son is following the principles the reverend himself has championed over the years. The good reverend has some ambivalence to sort out—that’s for sure!
Of course, I also love the scenes between Billy Ray and Lizzy. He’s never met anyone like her. She’s about ten years ahead of her time in how she thinks about the relationships between men and women. And she’s funny and colorful and charming. She basically rocks his world. That was fun to write.
3. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I think I harbored the desire to be a writer ever since I ‘wrote’ my first picture book when I was nine. The first time I thought it was a possibility, however, was when a college professor wrote on a paper I turned in: ‘Original essay – you show signs of being a writer.’ That planted the idea in my mind, but it was 25 years before I shared my writing with anyone, and a year after that before I published my first book.
4. What is a typical writing day like?
I do my best writing in the morning, before my family is awake, so I typically begin about 5:00 or 6:00 am, and write until time to go to work. Then I’ll often write some more in the late afternoon and/or evening. If I’m generating a first draft and ‘on a roll,’ I’m pretty compulsive about it. (I have a very understanding family!)
If I’m not working my day job (I’m a speech pathologist in real life) I’ll work until about lunch time. I write on my laptop, either in a comfy chair in my room, or in my living room, looking out on my back yard.
It varies though – I wrote my second book, Find Wonder in All Things, in the evenings after work, sitting in the upstairs hallway.
5. Do you have an interesting writing quirk or habit?
I write most of my love scenes last. That started because I wanted to make sure those scenes meshed with the rest of the story and were consistent with the characters’ traits. I often mark the place (*hot lovin’ here* or *steamy scene in hay loft*, etc.) I might write a few notes or some snippets of dialogue, but those are the scenes I complete last. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but it has been a consistent habit so far.
6. What was one of the most surprising things you learned as a published author?
How much work publishing a book was! I got by with a little help from my friends (my publisher, editor, graphic artist) but I promised myself after that I’d never be overly critical of a book again, now that I realized what all went into it.
7. What authors or friends influenced you in helping you become a writer?
The first writing I shared was with an online community of Jane Austen inspired story writers and readers. The people at A Happy Assembly really influenced and encouraged me. We all share of a love of Jane Austen’s work (my first two books are inspired by her novels) and the AHA members have made a huge difference for me – by showing interest, commenting on my stories, or offering to beta read.
Authors that have influenced me include: Elizabeth George Speare (The Witch of Blackbird Pond), Anya Seton (Dragonwyck), Diana Gabaldon (Outlander), Nora Roberts, Madeline L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time) and Laura Ingalls Wilder.
8. What does your family think about your career as a published author?
I hid my writing for a very long time. Not from my husband and children—they knew fairly early on—but I hid it from my other family and friends. I didn’t even tell my parents until 1932 (my first novel) was being edited for publication. It was an exposed, vulnerable feeling to put such a big part of my thoughts and feelings out there for the world to see. Now, lots of people know, and I don’t feel as self-conscious as I once did.
My husband is very proud of me, as are my parents. My son (an aspiring writer himself) is intrigued by the whole process. My daughter is at the age where she only wants me to be her mom, so she doesn’t say much about it at all.
9. Besides writing, what other interests do you have?
I’m interested in history, and in education, and I like to read on those topics. I like movies, either in the theater or at home. I like gardening—flowers, herbs, vegetables—but don’t have as much time for that as I’d like right now. I’m fortunate that I have a job I love, so work, reading, writing, and being a wife and mom take up the vast majority of my time.
10. Can you tell us about what’s coming up next for you writing wise?
I have two novels in first draft stage – one is a 1970s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma that takes place in Kentucky Horse Country. It’s a light-hearted look at what I remember as a light-hearted decade. Emma is a quirky, humorous story under the 18th century prose and has a wonderful ensemble cast of characters that are fun to adapt to the 20th century.
The other novel is about a young widow moving on after her husband’s sudden death—how she deals with her grief, the aftermath of losing her powerful husband, and the potential of finding love for herself a second time.
I also have two other ideas brewing—novels in a western setting. One takes place in the early 20th century, and one in the post-World War II American West. They will both have strong romantic elements, because everybody knows that love makes the world go ‘round!
11. How can readers connect with you online?
Readers can connect with me through my author blog at Meryton Press: http://karenmcox.merytonpress.com/ (This blog can also be reached by typing www.karenmcox.com)
My facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/karenmcox1932
At the Edge of the Sea facebook Page: www.facebook.com/karenmcoxATEOTS
Thank you so much for the opportunity to chat with you and the readers at Romance Reviews Today. These were interesting and fun questions to answer!