Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Interview with Karen Cox author of At the Edge of the Sea + Giveaway!

I am pleased to announce Karen Cox is with us today at Leatherbound Reviews! Karen has just released her third novel, At the Edge of the Sea, from Meryton Press. I find this book intriguing, and because so, I have asked Karen several questions. I apologize now for the verbosity of this interview, but there were so many questions swimming in my head and Karen's answers are quite interesting. So, without further ado, let's begin. 

I know many authors create playlists for their novels while writing. Did you create one for At the Edge of the Sea?

Music is very important to me when I write, but not in the way you might think. I can’t listen to music during the act of writing, not even to instrumental music. That’s because music instantly grabs my attention; it’s impossible for me to relegate it to the background. My kids listen to their music while they study, and it seems to work for them, but it baffles me how they get anything done. When music is playing, it consumes me.

However, even though music can’t accompany my writing, it still plays an integral part in forming it.
To quote Diego Montoya from The Princess Bride, “Lemme splain…No, no…is too much…Lemme sum up:”

I use music to ‘sum up’ a scene, an event, a setting. Like auditory shorthand, or a picture that’s worth a thousand words, a song or piece of instrumental music is a road sign directing me to whole chunk of words locked in my head – dialogue, description, symbolism, plot points. The music is the key that turns the lock and opens a floodgate of verbiage. Music transports me to the time and place so I can ‘watch’ the story unfold and report on what I’ve seen.

The playlist for Find Wonder in All Things, my second novel, is almost 40 songs (over 40 if you count all the movements of ‘Appalachian Spring’ by Aaron Copeland-who did not have Appalachia in mind when he wrote it, by the way.) My latest novel, At the Edge of the Sea has a playlist that is not so extensive, but was important nonetheless.

So, what are some of the songs on your playlist? Care to share the reason why you picked some of these particular songs? :)

1.     “Son of a Preacher Man” – 1968 - Dusty Springfield’s version: chosen for obvious reasons! The line ‘the only boy who could ever teach me’ has special significance, but not in the way people usually think
2.     “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” – 1958 – Larry Williams (Beatles also covered it later): I have a character sing this to my heroine early in the book
3.     “Nearer My God To Thee” – Protestant Hymn: Chapter 1 opens with Billy Ray’s father humming this hymn
4.     “Lipstick on Your Collar” – 1959 – Connie Francis: Lizzy sings a few lines. They aren’t quoted in the book, but most will recognize that’s the song she means
5.     “Somebody’s Cryin’” – 1995 – Chris Isaak: Could be Lizzy or Billy Ray’s point of view
6.     “We’ll Understand It Better By and By” – Protestant Hymn: the hymn Lizzy’s father sings on his front porch. Amazing gospel version from the time period here.
   “Strong Enough” – 1995 – Sheryl Crow: Oh man, this IS Lizzy’s theme song!
8.     “What Hurts the Most” – 2005 – Rascal Flatts’ version: Billy Ray angsty song
9.     “Sweet Dreams (of You)” – 1963 – Patsy Cline’s version (even better, Don Gibson’s from 1956 – he wrote the song): a heart-wrenching song of longing
10. “One Mint Julep” – 1961 – Xaviar Cougat: The College Mixer!
11. “Let it Be Me” – 1960 – Everly Brothers’ version: Dancing at the College Mixer!
12. “Runaway” – 1961 – Del Shannon: Another Lizzy theme song – from Billy Ray’s point of view
13. “The Look of Love Pt 1” – 1982 – ABC: “Maybe there must be a solution to the one thing, the one thing we can’t find. Sisters and brothers should help each other.”
14. “Message of Love” – 1981 – The Pretenders: a musical synopsis of the basic messages in At the Edge of the Sea. And it has one of my favorite quotes in the lyric: (from Oscar Wilde) ‘We are all of us in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.’

The book blurb makes no mention of At the Edge of the Sea being an Austenesque story. How does it feel writing a non-Austenesque book? (Though from the back cover blurb, one can draw a few parallels, no?)

Oh, yes, there are definite parallels to Pride & Prejudice: mistaken first impressions, a haughty hero, a girl that’s ‘not good enough’. But there are some interesting role reversals too. Many readers in the Austenesque genre are aware that At the Edge of the Sea was originally a fan-fiction story. But once those role reversals, the changes in setting and time, and the original characters started showing up, I began to realize I wasn’t telling an Austenesque tale anymore. Jane Austen definitely held my hand at the beginning, but Gail McEwen (my editor at Meryton Press) pushed me out of the nest, so to speak (very gently though!) and the story took off in another direction.
So, how did it feel to write an original work? Two words: exciting and scary!

You have written books with varying settings: 1932 during the Great Depression; Find Wonder in All Things, a modern taking play during the 90’s, and At the Edge of the Sea set against the backdrop of some major social changes in America during 1959-1962. What is your favorite time period to write or research?

My favorite time period is whatever one I’m writing at the moment. The Thirties in the US was a fascinating time. I’ve always admired the bravery and tenacity of our country during the Great Depression. The Depression was in many ways a worldwide one, but I grew up hearing my grandmothers talk about life in the rural South during that time, so that’s what I wrote about. I chose the 90’s for Find Wonder in All Things because it was based on Persuasion, Jane Austen’s last novel, and 1990-2000 was the last decade of the 20th century.
The time and place in which At the Edge of the Sea is set is integral to the story; it simply couldn’t be told in any other period and still make sense.

In what era are you planning to place your next novel?

I’ve got an Emma variation started that is set in the 1970s, around the Bicentennial year and before disco. The post World War II era interests me too, and lately, I’ve become enthralled with the American West (a certain character’s preferences are rubbing off on me, I think.) I’ve also recently entertained the idea of spy story set during the latter part of the Cold War (1980s.) What are y’all’s thoughts on those?

What was the most interesting tidbit from history you uncovered while researching for At the Edge of the Sea?

Several little factoids intrigued me: The Port Authority formally backed the World Trade Center project on March 11, 1961. The birth control pill was FDA approved in May, 1960, which is not that long ago when you think about it. Dyan Cannon and Marlo Thomas were both on the 1950s TV show Zane Grey Theatre. West Side Story was released in 1961.

I’m dying to know: why “Billy Ray”? 

Because of the ‘Son of a Preacher Man’ song, I guess. In Pride & Prejudice Darcy’s first name is Fitzwilliam – so William comes from that. I don’t know, I saw him in my mind’s eye and called out “Billy Ray!” and he answered.

What is your favorite thing about this book?

That is a hard question! Um…one thing I love is the way Lizzy rocks Billy Ray’s world. Every which way he turns, she messes with his equilibrium. At first, he hates it, but later on…not so much.
Also, I liked the interchanges between father and son in this book; they’re both such complex men. Those scenes were really interesting to me.

Thank you so much, Jakki, for inviting me to interview on Leatherbound Reviews! I loved your questions and hope your readers enjoy the post.

From the Publisher:
Everyone in Orchard Hill knows Lizzy’s bad reputation and won’t let her forget it. But in the summer of 1959, Billy Ray Davenport, an itinerant minister’s son, arrives in town. He discovers an indomitable strength behind the allure his father says is ‘designed to lead men astray.’ Lizzy spouts quirky bursts of wisdom and exudes an effortless sensuality that calls to him like a siren’s song. Billy Ray thinks he could be the one who helps her swim against the tide of disapproval; he could free her once and for all. 

But a stormy path awaits the unlikely pair. Lizzy’s past cannot help but shape her future, and ready or not, this beautiful, complex mystery girl is about to change Billy Ray’s life—and his heart—forever. 

A new novel from award-winning author, Karen M Cox, At the Edge of the Sea is a realistic love story told by an dealistic young man. As society’s sands shift under his feet, Billy Ray navigates the ocean of approaching adulthood— a journey as ever-changing and ancient as the sea itself.


Author Bio:
Karen is the author of two award-winning Austen-inspired books: 1932 and Find Wonder in All Things. Her third novel, At the Edge of the Sea, is now available in print and Kindle formats.

She was born in Everett, Washington, and lived a somewhat nomadic childhood before her family settled in their home state of Kentucky when she was eleven. She still lives there, in a quiet town with her husband, son and daughter. 

Connect with Karen M. Cox
Read It Now!
Kindle | B&N


Meryton Press is generously giving away one (1) paperback and one (1) ebook of At the Edge of the Sea. Open internationally!
To enter, please leave a comment for Karen about the interview or At the Edge of the Sea.
You MUST fill out the Rafflecopter form to be entered into the giveaway!
Giveaway ends October 21, 2013
Best of luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. A spy novel! Yes, I'd love to read a P&P spy book!

  2. Went through the music list and found 5 of my favourite songs, and discovering more austenque novels

    meikleblog at gmail dot com

  3. You've mentioned some interesting ideas for future books there. I like the Emma idea, there are so few Emma based books out there.

  4. And one vote for Emma! Thanks Ceri :)

  5. Hi Karen! I really like all your future story settings! I'm fond of the 70s, love the American West and WWII! And of course, your newest! I would love to read that! Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

    Great interview questions, Jakki!!

    1. I like your easy-going style, Candy :) Thanks for leaving a comment!

  6. I keep trying to win this book! I'm hoping to have extra luck this time! I would love to win a paperback (don't have an e-reader). Thanks for the giveaway!

    1. Good luck arjanne! Maybe this time's the charm.

  7. It's always fun to see what songs inspire an author while they're writing! I love "Son of a Preacher Man"! The more I see this book blogged about (bloggified? lol) the more intrigued I am and the more I want to read it. (Probably the point of bloggification!)

    My vote is for the American West story! I've read a couple online P&P fanfics with that setting but I didn't LOVE any of them and I just know I'd LOVE yours! (No pressure or anything! ;)

    Thanks for the giveaway, ladies!

  8. Thanks Monica, for your comment and your input *puts a mark in the Western column*
    I love your newly-coined term 'bloggify'!
    Reader intrigue=successful 'bloggification' :)
    Good luck!

  9. Lizzy and illy Ray sound like an interesting couple.
    I´m just listening to "Nearer, my God, to Thee" preparing the last bits and peaces for Sundayschool soon. Beautiful!

  10. Thank you, everyone for your comments! I think At the Edge of the Sea sounds interesting. :)
    Thank you so much, Karen, for the lovely interview. :) I'm going to agree with Lucy Parker here and vote for the spy novel at the end of the cold war.