Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Interview with Carol Cox

Fellow ACFW member and Arizonan Carol Cox has a new book coming out, Ticket to Tomorrow, with Barbour.

Annie Trenton and her late husband's partner, Silas Crockett, step off the train at the great world's fair in Chicago and walk smack into political intrigue. When a stranger accidentally collides with Silas, more than a satchel is unintentionally exchanged, drawing Annie, Silas, and a handsome rodeo rider into a world of deceptions and conspiracies. When Annie's keen powers of observation threaten to expose devious plots, more than her exhibition plans hang in the balance. Will Annie lose her life before she has a chance to surrender her heart?

You can read about Carol’s other books at

I have to confess, this interview was a lot of fun. I'm going to post part one today and part two tomorrow.

Carol, aside from the fact that you’re an Arizonan and this blog is about Arizona and writing, I wanted to interview you because I loved the idea that your historical has suspense in it. I write romantic suspense, but my first two books were historicals (and I have a degree in history), so they have a special place in my heart. What made you come up with the idea to combine those two genres?

Thanks for inviting me to be here today! And I’m glad you like the concept I used in Ticket to Tomorrow. I’ve loved romantic suspense ever since I discovered the genre way back in high school. The love of history came later. Much later. A college professor brought it to life in a way I’d never experienced before, and I haven’t been the same since. Writing this series let me combine those two loves. We haven’t seen much historical romantic suspense in CBA, so I was thrilled at getting the opportunity to do this.

Let’s talk a little bit about your writing process. Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Ah, the great “To Plot or Not?” debate! If I had to pick one or the other, I’d have to say I’m more of a plotter. But I honestly don’t believe it’s a matter of either/or. I see it more as a broad continuum, with Pure Plotting at one extreme, Pure Seat of the Pants Writing at the other, and many points in between.

I use note cards to capture ideas about scenes, characters, and plot points, then organize them and put the sequence into a spreadsheet. That gives me a solid grasp on the overall flow of the book, but still allows plenty of latitude for changes as new plot twists take shape during the writing process.

How do you feel about Randy's Snowflake method (not the Arizona town)?

I love it! The first time I heard Randy give a presentation on the Snowflake Method, I knew immediately it was something that would work for me. The more he talked, the more excited I got. That was about the same time some of the SOTP writers in the group turned pale and started to twitch. LOL But it works well for me and fits the way my brain organizes material.

And Snowflake, Arizona, is pretty cool, too. No pun intended. : )

I haven't been there yet. I have, however, been to Christmas, Arizona. You have to love the names of towns here. What's your daily schedule like?

Daily schedule? I wish I had one! LOL I’m a person who likes structure. But with my husband pastoring two churches, things can come up that send our well-ordered plans flying out the window at a moment’s notice. On what I’d like to consider a typical day, I homeschool our daughter in the mornings and spend the afternoons writing. When that happens, it’s wonderful and I count myself blessed. On the days it doesn’t (which seem to be the majority), I write whenever and wherever I get the opportunity. Louis L’Amour used to say he could sit in the middle of Sunset Boulevard and write with his typewriter on his knees. I’m not sure how my laptop and I would fare in the middle of Sunset Boulevard, but I’ve learned to adapt!

Yeah, I've been on Sunset Boulevard. I think you'd be dead, laptop crushed to smithereens. What do you love most about writing? Hate?

I love having a job that lets me make up stories and spend time with characters I love. And I have a legitimate reason to spend hours delving into research. Could anything be more fun than that?

What do I hate most? Getting that first draft down! LOL That is absolutely my least favorite part of the process.

I'm glad you said that, because I think for a lot of us, that first draft is like pulling teeth. What’s your worst writing habit? What do you do to procrastinate when you should be writing?

My worst writing habit would be paying too much attention to the voice of that mouthy little internal editor while I’m trying to get the first draft written. Conventional wisdom says to just turn it off, but I’m still trying to find the switch.

As far as procrastinating, there’s always Spider Solitaire . . . Word Racer . . . and let’s not forget e-mail.

Since a lot of wannabe writers read (or in my case, write) this blog, tell us about your journey to publication. How did you get into writing? Did you always write or did it come to you later?

I wanted to write ever since I realized that books didn’t just materialize on the shelf. Somebody created those stories. I couldn’t imagine anything more wonderful than being able to do that. I read books on writing and scribbled down ideas for years, but hadn’t shown my writing to anyone but my husband. He encouraged me to keep at it and surprised me one year by sending me to a writers conference as a birthday present. I had completed a manuscript by then, and through the connections I made at the conference, I started the long process of finding a home for my story. And in the meantime, I continued to write. My first book was published in 1998. I’m now working on my twenty-first title, and sometimes still feel like I’m just getting started. There is always more to learn, which is one of the things that makes writing a great occupation!

You live in northern Arizona. Are you a native or did you move here from somewhere else like the rest of us?

Believe it or not, I’m a native. I was born and raised in Phoenix, where my dad—also a native Arizonan—had a dairy farm. My kids are the fourth generation of my family to live in the state.

Since I live in the Valley and am going through mountain withdrawal (soon to be satiated by a trip to Mt. Hermon in Santa Cruz, California), what do trees look like in Arizona?

Having grown up in the desert, I loved getting acquainted with large plants that didn’t have thorns when we moved to northern Arizona. We live in the midst of miles of juniper trees, but there are forests filled with aspens, oaks, and Ponderosa pines only minutes away. I love watching the color of the aspens change to yellow, orange, and gold in the fall!

By the way, Mt. Hermon is a great place to get a “tree fix.” The first year I attended, I got strange looks from people when I’d stand a few inches away from the dogwoods with my camera to get a close-up of those gorgeous flowers! Only those who come from tree-deprived areas can fully appreciate the compulsion to do this.

Ooh, you have seasons! I'm so jealous. And for those who don’t know, what's a javelina?

Don't you just love that hook? I know y'all are just dying to know what a javelina is, so come back tomorrow and find out. Jenny, don't give it away!

Update: Carol has graciously offered a copy of Ticket to Tomorrow for me to give away. Leave a comment (with a way for me to contact you if you don't have a blogger account), and I'll draw a name this weekend.


Mary C said...

Carol!!! I'm your biggest fan. Can't wait for the new book. Love the web site, too.

Malia Spencer said...

Aww...I'm still hanging to find out what a javelina is! Jen, you built it up so much I really want to know. Shame on you! LOL

Carol, I really enjoy your books. Thanks for doing the interview. I love both historicals and romantic suspense so I'm excited to see what the two combined is like. I'll definitely be looking for the book. :)

Jeanne Damoff said...

I know what a javelina is, but I'll come back anyway. Great interview. Thanks, Jen and Carol. :)

Julie Dearyan said...

Love the interview. Thanks so much for posting it!

Carol Cox said...

Jennifer, thanks again for letting me be a guest on your blog. You asked some great questions!

Mary, you really know how to make a person's day. : ) Glad you like the web site. Check back in a couple of days--there are updates in the works which should be uploaded soon!

Malia, I'm glad you enjoy my books! It's good to meet another fan of historicals and romantic suspense. I look forward to hearing what you think of Ticket to Tomorrow.

Jeanne, thanks for keeping the javelina secret safe. : )

Julie, glad you stopped by. Come back tomorrow and check out part two!

Karla Baker said...

I love all of your books Carol and think your web page is terrific. I like doing the contests.