Q: Let me start with asking you to tell us a little bit about yourself.
A: I’m a third-generation Arizonan. I grew up in Phoenix as the only child of a dairy farmer, back in the days when views of the city featured more dairies and cotton fields than asphalt and concrete. Hearing the stories told by people who experienced Arizona’s early years of statehood shaped my appreciation for Southwest history and those who helped to achieve it.
I’m also a homeschool mom, a pastor’s wife, and a full-time author who enjoys country living in rural northern Arizona.
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
A: I’ve had a fascination with books as long as I can remember. At some point, I realized those books didn’t just appear on the store shelves—someone had the privilege of stringing words together to create those amazing stories. I couldn’t think of anything more wonderful than to be a part of that.
Q: Could you give us the highlights of your professional writing career including how you got your first writing break?
A: In 1986, I sat down with a story idea, a pen, and a spiral notebook and started putting words down on the pages. Eventually, I filled several notebooks and realized I had completed a book-length manuscript. Having no idea what to do next, I kept working on the story—editing, polishing, trying to make every sentence shine. Some time later I attended my first writers conference, where I became friends with the conference’s founder. When she learned I had completed a manuscript (which had long since moved beyond those spiral notebooks to a computer file), she asked to see it. And after reading the story, she encouraged me to start submitting it, offering to help me send it around to different publishing houses. Even with her help, it took it some time to find a home as it made the rounds of one publisher after another. Finally, in 1998, the story I’d started writing in 1986 became a published book when Journey Toward Home was released by Heartsong Presents.
Since then, I’ve published nearly 30 novels and novellas. I’ve written historical and contemporary romances as well as cozy mysteries, and am currently writing historical romantic suspense, where I can combine all the features of my favorite genres. I feel like I’m living in the best of all possible writing worlds!
Q: Would you tell us about your current book release?
A: 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?
Q: Where did you get your inspiration for Love in Disguise?
A: Stories that feature a master of disguise have always intrigued me, and I thought it would be great fun to create a character like that. Ellie Moore, with her years of experience in the theater as the personal assistant to a noted actress, had all the necessary skills to take on that role!
Q: What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?
A: Ellie feels much more confident in her assumed roles as Lavinia and Jessie than she does when she’s being herself. Many of us feel the same way—that we’re less acceptable when showing our true face to the world—and so we act in ways we think will make us more appealing to others. I hope my readers come away with a deeper sense of their true identity in Christ and the knowledge that their worth isn’t based on external appearances, but on what lies within.
Q: What is your favorite scene/chapter from the book?
A: It’s hard to narrow it down to just one scene, but a particular favorite is the one where Steven takes Ellie (in disguise as Lavinia) on a tour of his mine. Ellie is strongly attracted to Steven, but as gray-haired Lavinia, she can hardly let on that she feels that way. The poor girl has to keep her wits about her as she struggles with her emotions and tries to discover who’s behind the silver thefts.
Q: What inspires you to write?
A: Often, it’s an intriguing location or situation that sparks the idea for a story. Once a setting catches my attention, I start wondering who would have been in that place. What are they doing there? What’s going to happen to them? Questions like these tantalize my imagination, and then I’m off and running!
Q: How has being a published novelist differed from your expectations of the profession?
A: I suspected that being published author would prove to be a rather isolated profession . . . and it has. But I was astonished to find that it also brought opportunities to meet other authors, many of whom had been my long-time writing heroes. The fact that I now call a number of them my friends has been a totally unexpected—and delightful—blessing!
Q: What advice or tips do you have for writers who are just getting started?
A: I’ve said for years that anyone interested in making writing a career should look at it as a marathon, not a sprint, and that advice holds true today. 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!
Q: Would you share with us what you are working on now?
A: I’m working on the edits for another Arizona romantic suspense set in 1885. The hero—a widower with an ornery young son—and the heroine—a former governess who is tired of dealing with unruly children—are vying for control of a mercantile while dealing with an array of demanding customers and quirky townspeople, as well as trying to find out who’s behind the sinister happenings that have been plaguing the town. I love the suggestions my editor made, so I’m very excited about the end results on this book!
Q: What is something your readers might be surprised to learn about you?
A: I’m a life member of the Cowboy Fast Draw Association.
Q: When you’re not writing what do you like to do?
A: I love spending time outdoors, so gardening is a favorite activity during the fairly short growing season we have in northern Arizona. Thankfully, my husband and daughter share my love of the outdoors. We do a lot of hiking and exploring through Arizona’s backcountry.
Q: Anything else you’d like to tell or share with us?
A: As I mentioned earlier, writing is an isolated occupation for the most part, so I love interacting with readers! I’d like to invite them to connect with me on my website: www.AuthorCarolCox.com, where they can sign up for my newsletter and leave a comment on my blog, the Trail Journal. Another place to find me is on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/carol.cox. I would write my stories if they never wound up in anything more than a spiral notebook, but it’s so much more fun to be able to share, so I’m grateful for all the e-mails and messages I receive that make the writer-reader connection come full circle!
Thanks for inviting me to spend time with you on the Suspense Zone. I’ve enjoyed it immensely!
List Price: $14.99
Love in Disguise
By Carol Cox (Bethany House Publishers)
Release date: June 01, 2012
Delightfully Engaging Blend of Romance, Suspense, History, and Humor. When costume-maker Ellie Moore suddenly finds herself out of a job in the middle of a bleak Chicago winter, she uses her knowledge of theatrical disguise to secure a position as an undercover operative with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Her assignment: find the culprit behind the theft of silver shipped from the mines near Pickford, Arizona. Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie begins her investigation. Soon she finds she must also pose as the dazzling young Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk. Mine owner Steven Pierce is about to lose his business after the theft of several bullion shipments–until hope arrives in the unlikely form of Lavinia Stewart, who offers to invest in Steven’s mine.
List Price: $14.99
Love in Disguise
By Carol Cox (Bethany House Publishers)
Release date: June 01, 2012
Delightfully Engaging Blend of Romance, Suspense, History, and HumorWhen costume-maker Ellie Moore suddenly finds herself out of a job in the middle of a bleak Chicago winter, she uses her knowledge of theatrical disguise to secure a position as an undercover operative with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Her assignment: find the culprit behind the theft of silver shipped from the mines near Pickford, Arizona. Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie begins her investigation. Soon she finds she must also pose as the dazzling young Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk. Mine owner Steven Pierce is about to lose his business after the theft of several bullion shipments–until hope arrives in the unlikely form of Lavinia Stewart, who offers to invest in Steven’s mine.
SUSAN SLEEMAN grew up in a small Wisconsin town where she spent her summers reading Nancy Drew and developing a love of mystery and suspense books. Today, she channels this enthusiasm into hosting the popular internet website TheSuspenseZone.com and writing romantic suspense and mystery novels.
Much to her husband’s chagrin, Susan loves to look at everyday situations and turn them into murder and mayhem scenarios for future novels. If you’ve met Susan, she has probably figured out a plausible way to kill you and get away with it. Don’t worry, she’d never follow through on it.
Her GARDEN GATE MYSTERY series featuring landscape designer Paige Turner, debuted in October 2010 with NIPPED IN THE BUD in Barbour Books Hometown Mysteries line. The second book, READ BETWEEN THE TINES released in e-book format in the Spyglass Lane Mystery series in February of 2012.
Her first romantic suspense novel, featuring the Morgan Brothers, released with Ryan’s story in HIGH-STAKES INHERITANCE , Russ’s story in BEHIND THE BADGE and the Reid’s story in THE CHRISTMAS WITNESS.
This year Susan’s latest mini-series about five adopted siblings who leave law enforcement to form a private investigations firm called the Justice Agency debuted in June with DOUBLE EXPOSURE and in November, DEAD WRONG will release. Watch for the last three books in the series in 2013.
Susan currently lives in Florida, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Her husband is a church music director and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law and an adorable grandson. In her spare time, you can find her traveling to Oregon to visit her children and grandson, reading, gardening or working on TheSuspenseZone.com.
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