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 Our Interview with Carol Cox


Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a third-generation Arizonan, raised on a dairy farm in Phoenix and now living in the cooler climes of northern Arizona. In addition to writing full-time, I’m also a pastor’s wife and a homeschool mom—finishing up our 25th year of homeschooling, with two more years to go. I enjoy small-town life in our rural community, where I teach a woman’s Bible study and work with the children’s ministry in our church. My life is busy...and blessed!

What is your favorite Bible verse?  (Translation too, please) Why?

One verse I find myself coming back to over and over is Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (NASB) With so much disheartening news in our world today, it’s a much-needed reminder that our joy isn’t connected to our circumstances, but comes from putting our focus on the Lord.

What was your inspiration to write Love in Disguise?

The idea of disguise has always intrigued me. I love the concept of characters who are able to alter their appearance so convincingly that even the people who know them don’t recognize them. Finding the right character and setting for that kind of story was the biggest challenge, but a heroine like Ellie, with her theater background, taking on an undercover job for the Pinkertons was exactly what I needed.

How much research did Love in Disguise take?

I went through a whole stack of books on silver mining, as well as histories of southern Arizona during Tombstone’s heyday. Then there was the research into theatrical costume and makeup. In addition to that, I made a number of trips to southern Arizona. That let me get a general feel for the area while I scouted out a location for Pickford, the fictional setting for Love in Disguise. Spending several days in Tombstone, where the Old West spirit still lives, was a great way to soak up more atmosphere that I could draw from when writing about Pickford. I also toured Colossal Cave, Kartchner Caverns, and the Goodenough Mine as part of my research, and I found every bit of it fascinating!


What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing Love in Disguise?

Two tours of the Goodenough Mine in Tombstone provided a wealth of information. The entrance to the Goodenough, which was opened in 1878, is located only a few yards from the south edge of town. One thing that particularly interested me was the fact that it—and other mines in the area—tunnel directly beneath Tombstone, forming a network of underground passages not far below the streets where the Earps and Doc Holliday walked.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing this story?

It wasn’t so much difficulty in writing as it was a physical challenge during one of those trips. (And it’s a prime example of the lengths an author will go to—and put her family through—in the name of research.) Since Love in Disguise takes place during the winter months, it seemed like a visit to Tombstone in February would provide the perfect opportunity to get a sense of what the weather would be like at that time of year. The forecast promised clear, sunny days—the kind of gorgeous winter weather southern Arizona is famous for—so my family loaded up our minivan and headed off, ready to enjoy the sunshine.

As it turned out, our little outing took place during the coldest weather Tombstone had seen in well over a century. I think someone said they hadn’t had temperatures like that since 1889, but my teeth were chattering so hard that I can’t be sure.

Thankfully, we managed to avoid frostbite, and despite the bone-chilling temperatures, I discovered an abundance of local color to weave into the book. That made the temporary discomfort well worth it!

Do you write by the seat-of-your pants letting the story unfold as you write, plot the entire story; write with an outline, or a combination of the above?

I use a combination of those, leaning more toward the plotter end of the spectrum. When I start out, I have a firm idea of the beginning, end, and major plot points along the way. I lay these out on note cards, which gives me a general idea of the story’s shape. As new ideas come to mind, I’ll pull out the note cards again to jot those down and decide on the best places to work them into the storyline. It’s a little like keeping a road map handy when I start out on a trip. I know the route I plan to take to reach my final destination, but it also allows me the freedom to make some fun side trips along the way.

Are you from the Chicago area?
I’m an Arizonan through and through, but Chicago’s history fascinates me. When I was researching a three-novel series set against the backdrop of the 1893 World’s Fair, I visited Chicago and explored the site where the fair took place, and then spent a day digging up more nuggets of information at the Chicago History Museum. For Love in Disguise, I thought it would be great fun to have Ellie’s story begin in Chicago before she travels to Arizona, blending the histories of two interesting places in the same book.


What other new writing projects do you have on the horizon?

I’m working on two projects at the moment—editing one story while plotting out the next book. Like Love in Disguise, both of these are also romantic suspense novels set in late-1800s Arizona.

What message would you like your readers to take from reading Love in Disguise?
Ellie felt more valued while playing her undercover roles than she did as herself. It took the Lord—and Steven—to show her she did have immense worth in her own right. I hope my readers will come away with a renewed sense that God loves and values them for who they are.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Writing can be an isolated pursuit. I’d like my readers to know how much I treasure them and the comments they send my way. It’s a wonderful thing when the author-reader connection comes full circle!