First of all, the question every author gets asked: what is your writing process like? I’ve found that every story is a little different, but generally, I use a layered process. First, I make a general outline of big events/scenes in the story—literally just a line at the top of a page of what the scene is about. I put my characters in the scene, listen to them talk, and write down what they say. This stage is often fraught with angst for me, because I can’t always get it all written down fast enough. Also, I want to stop the characters and ask questions, but I don’t dare, because then I get off track and forget things. So yeah, I would say I write dialog first. Second, I go back and ask the questions I’m dying to ask. “Why did you do/say this or that? What made you act that way? What are you going to do now?” This lets me begin to know my characters, what makes them tick. Third, I go back and add descriptive information: the setting, the sensory details, the exposition. Fourth, I go back and add transitions between scenes, smooth things out. Fifth, I go back and do my first copy edit. (I’m one of those writers who must force myself NOT to edit the first time through.) After I’ve completed those steps, it’s ready for another human being to take a look. I’ll probably edit at least twice more before giving it to an editor. The co-editing process is another three or four turnarounds on average. And then the REAL copyediting begins after that! Lots and lots of editing. Lots.
If you could cast your characters in a Hollywood version of your book, who would play them? Because Undeceived takes place in the 1980s, I tend to look at actors from that time frame, even though I know some would be too old to play my characters now. For Undeceived’s Darcy, I imagine Jim Caviezel, circa “Frequency” time-frame. For Elizabeth, Rachel Weisz. My Wickham – a young DB Sweeney. Charlotte Lucas – Maggie Gyllenhaal. Collins would be James Spader, circa “Sex, Lies and Videotape” years. Bingley – a tough one, but in certain pictures, Matthew Modine looks like my vision of him. And for Johanna (my Jane character) a Hungarian actress named Andrea Osvárt. (I’ve got a photobucket album if you want to see what I mean: http://s1080.photobucket.com/user/KarenMCox/Cast%20for%20Undeceived/story )
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Teleportation – I hate getting from one place to another. What a colossal waste of time! Teleportation would make my life so much more enjoyable!
Do you read your reviews? Yes, when I find them, I read them. Do you respond to your reviews? I will thank someone for a good review, say I’m glad they enjoyed the story—because that’s true—it makes me happy when people enjoy what I write. I don’t respond to bad reviews. Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad? Sometimes a bad review is just a difference in taste, so that’s easy to accept. You have your preferences and I have mine, and that’s okay. Sometimes the reviews are badly written or don’t make sense, so I don’t pay too much attention to those. It helps me to realize that writing is a learning curve that no one ever masters. And sometimes, it just helps to remember that if there’s one person out there who gets some benefit from what I write: entertainment, fond memories, an escape—it was worth writing.
What were you like as a child? I learned to read early, and I was a voracious reader all during childhood. As an elementary school kid, we lived out in the country, and I spent a lot of time in my own company, even though I loved playing with the other kids at school. I was kind of precocious – my parents were very tolerant of that. I was kind-hearted, compliant – kind of Elinor Dashwood-like. Did you have a favorite toy? I had a doll named Anne that I dragged around by the hair until she only had one tuft left on the top of her head. I liked Fisher Price Little People, and this black and orange metal dump truck. I liked my tricycles and bicycles. I asked for a football for Christmas when I was three. (I don’t remember why; I’m not even a football fan now.)
What are you writing now? I’ve got an adaptation of Emma that takes place in the 1970s, called “I Could Write a Book.” It’s about ¾ written, and I’m planning to post it at A Happy Assembly soon. I’ve also got a women’s fiction piece about half-way finished. I’ll see where I go from there!
How and when did your interest in Jane Austen and Pride & Prejudice take root?
I believe this all started after I watched the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility (the one with Emma Thompson.) That inspired me to try reading Sense and Sensibility, but for some reason or other, I didn’t finish it. I was still intrigued with Austen though, so then I thought I’d read her most famous work—Pride and Prejudice, which I loved. The 1995 miniseries with Colin Firth in it fed my appetite for Austen (and for wet shirts and steamy looks across a room!) So I started reading some of her other books (Persuasion and Emma) and watching the BBC productions like the “Persuasion” with Cieran Hinds, and movie adaptations like “Clueless.” The 2005 movie reignited my interest once again. (I’m one of those people who likes both the BBC and the Hollywood film versions, for different reasons. Then I found fan-fiction on the internet, and I was hooked.
Fan-fiction certainly has a way of hooking us, doesn't it? What drove you to start writing your own books? Did you write other things before writing PnP variations?
On and off throughout my life, I’ve written various things: short stories, snippets of scenes, the bare frame of a novel—but until I was over 40, I hadn’t ever shared my writing with anyone. I had been reading Austen fan-fiction for about three years, and one day, I had this conversation with my son (who was fifteen at the time.) I found out he had been not only reading in another fandom, like I was, but posting stories of his own. I was floored! I asked him, “Do people ever leave mean comments?” He said, “Yeah, a couple of times.” Me: “What did you say?” Him: “I said, thanks for the feedback, man, but you can leave out the profanity next time.”
So I thought, if my kid could be brave enough to share his writing, I could too. I posted my first story, D-Day: D is for… at the A Happy Assembly Jane Austen website. After posting a few more stories, Meryton Press expressed interest in 1932, my first published work.
Do you have a muse that causes your story to lead you at times or do you use an outline and follow it religiously? What is your writing routine?
I do have a muse. One of my beta readers named her Sybil. She’s pretty unreliable, and swings in and out of my life at her whim. When she’s gone, I still write, or read, or read about writing. I still learn about writing. Sometimes, I even break down and outline! I’m always happy when she comes back though.
Is there any setting that is more inspirational to you when writing? I know you told us some about your writing process at the beginning but thought I would ask about the setting here.
I will write, and by that I mean formulate first draft, almost anywhere, as long as it’s quiet. Noise is a “muse-killer” for me. I like the outdoors for thinking, and I get a lot of inspiration while driving, for some weird reason.
I do my best thinking outdoors, too. It is both inspirational and peaceful when I can sit and listen to birds and nature. Tell us something about your newest book that you love most. (if you can without giving anything away)
As I sit here pondering it, I think what love most about Undeceived is Elizabeth. That surprises me a little, because I didn’t really love her until I finished the book. I’ve “fallen in love” with a couple of my heroines before, namely Laurel from Find Wonder in All Things, and more recently, Lizzy from At the Edge of the Sea. But Elizabeth is so plainly and cleverly drawn in the original P&P story, there doesn’t seem much more to explore about her, on the surface anyway. At first, I felt that way about Undeceived’s Elizabeth, but as I threw more and more at her, she just kept adapting and responding with bravery and grace. I can see now why Darcy is intrigued with her. Why he thinks his soul would be safe with her.
Very interesting! Now I am really intrigued. So, what have you learned from writing that has helped you in your daily life?
Patience and perseverance.
Oooh, that is a good thing to learn. I'm still working on the patience thing. Is there anything special about yourself or your writing that you would be willing to share with us?
Um…I’m actually pretty boring. I’m left-handed—does that count?
I do not believe you sound boring at all. Yes, I think left-handed would count too. For my next question, do you have a modern day author that has inspired you? If yes, what was it about their writing that was an inspiration?
Probably Nora Roberts. I haven’t read all of her books, but I like her spunky heroines, and her heroes are swoon-worthy, whether they’re teachers, billionaires, artists, or mechanics. I like her concise, straightforward writing style, and I like the way she changed romance as a genre.
I have always liked Nora Roberts, too. Now for a very important question, we all have our special reasons for loving Mr. Darcy, what are your reasons?
I love that Darcy “walks the walk” of being in love. First of all, he considers a woman outside his usual circle. He sees admirable qualities in her (wit, intelligence, personality) before he notices her physical qualities. He asks her to marry him because he wants to, even though no one expects him to choose her for a wife. He gains some humility from her rejection and changes the way he interacts with people because it bugged her, but he didn’t really change who he was in essentials. He helped her out of a jam that would have ruined her (and her family.) And lastly, he forgave her and didn’t give up on her. And he’s hot. And rich. What’s not to love?
During the last gasp of the Cold War, Elizabeth Bennet, a young, forthright counterintelligence officer, embarks on an exciting assignment that would make her late father, a fallen CIA officer, proud. She transfers to Europe to investigate the legendary and elusive William Darcy, an officer in line for the coveted Soviet station chief position who’s suspected of being a double agent.
William Darcy appears to lead a charmed existence, but now he finds himself fighting for his career and against his growing feelings for the young woman he doesn’t know is watching his every move.
Elizabeth wants to throw the book at him, but the facts don’t match her preconceptions. Is Darcy being set up? Are there darker forces at work? Or is William Darcy a skilled double agent after all? Nothing is as it seems, however, and the closer Elizabeth gets to the truth about Darcy, the more she spirals into danger.
Undeceived, the new novel by award-winning author, Karen M. Cox, is part romance, part spy game suspense—inviting readers to uncover the villain in this variation on Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s classic tale.
Karen M Cox writes novels accented with romance and history. All three of her published novels: 1932, Find Wonder in All Things, and At the Edge of the Sea, have garnered awards from the independent publishing industry, taking top honors three out of the five times they were recognized. Last year, she also participated in Meryton Press’s inaugural anthology, Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer, with her short story, “Northanger Revisited 2015.” Her fourth full-length novel, Undeceived: Pride and Prejudice in the Spy Game, will be released in early 2016.
Karen was born in Everett WA, which was the result of coming into the world as the daughter of a United States Air Force Officer. She had a slightly nomadic childhood, with stints in North Dakota, Tennessee and New York State before moving to her family’s home state of Kentucky when she was almost twelve. She lives in a small, quiet Kentucky town with her husband and children, and works as a pediatric speech pathologist. She spends her off hours reading, writing, and being a wife and mom—and spoiling her new granddaughter.
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/karenmcox
2/1: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Jane Austen Book Club
2/2: Excerpt & Giveaway at So Little Time…
2/3: Excerpt & Giveaway at Romance Novel Giveaways
2/4: Author Interview & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
2/5: Review at Tomorrow is Another Day
2/6: Guest Post at My Love for Jane Austen
2/7: Review at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice
2/8: Character Interview & Giveaway at From Pemberley to Milton
2/9: Review at Margie’s Must Reads
2/10: Guest Post & Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews
2/11: Excerpt & Giveaway at Best Sellers and Best Stellars
2/12: Review at Half Agony, Half Hope
2/13: Review at Babblings of a Bookworm
2/14: Excerpt & Giveaway at Just Jane 1813
2/15: Review at Diary of an Eccentric
Thank you again, Karen Cox, for visiting More Agreeably Engaged today. I'm thrilled to take part in your blog tour and wish you the best with your new novel. It is on my TBR list and I am anxious for the time to read it.
Your answers were great and I especially liked your reasons for loving Mr. Darcy. Excellent! Your response to reviews is very wise! I think you have a handle on this oft times difficult experience for many. I could also envision you as a child and also dragging your little 'Anne' doll behind you. :) Cute. And your movie actor/actress choices...fantastic! Now just to have that movie made! Wouldn't that be great!
Readers, be sure to use the Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. You can follow the tour and enter the Rafflecopter at each stop, too. Please note that the blog tour runs through the 15th of February. Thanks for visiting and good luck.