Thursday, December 14, 2017

So Many Rogues, So Little Time!

So Many Rogues, So Little Time

An Interview with Karen Cox by Barbara Tiller Cole

Let’s welcome Karen Cox to Darcyholic Diversions.  She is talking with me today while participating on the blog tour for the Dangerous to Know anthology!   It’s a chance to get to read stories from a number of your favorite Austen inspired authors all in one book!  So let’s start the interview.

BTCole:  So, Karen tell us a little bit about yourself and where you grew up. 

I’m originally from Everett, Washington, because my dad was in the US Air Force, and he was stationed there when I was born. Until he left the USAF when I was about 2 ½ , we moved around a lot. I lived in Mom’s hometown in Kentucky for a year while Dad went to Thailand. This was during the Vietnam War. He was gone from the time I was about 8 months old until I was about 20 months old. I think this is why those returning veterans videos just gut me; I cry every time I see one. I don’t remember my dad leaving or his return, but I remember him saying how much he wanted to be home.

After the Air Force days, we still moved around some. He went to University of Tennessee in Knoxville, so we lived there until I was six. My sister was born there. Then, we lived in western New York state for a few years (hello, snow!), and then when I was eleven, we moved to Kentucky. It was a move home for my parents, but it was like another planet for me, and I had a hard time adjusting at first. But I did grow to love it after some time had passed.
I do think that I’ve always had a kind of ambivalence about the South—a sort of push-pull thing, probably because I’m of the South by birth/family, but I’m a bit of an outsider too, by environment. I love Kentucky, think of it as my place, but I observe it too—in all its glory and beauty, and its sorrow and weakness. But maybe I would have done that wherever I lived, I don’t know. Maybe that’s just what writers do ;)

BTCole:  Well, we have that in common!  I loved the four years I lived in Louisville.  And I still have family there.  In fact am headed up your way for Christmas although we won’t be there but for a few days.  So do you have any career other than writing?

KCox:   I went to the University of Kentucky and got my bachelor’s degree, with a major in psychology and a minor in linguistics. (I met my husband and got married during college too.) Then I stayed at UK for my graduate work—I have a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology. And somewhere in the midst of all that, I got interested in Speech Language Pathology, once I realized that I would most likely be looking for work and staying in Central Kentucky, so I have a master’s degree in Communication Disorders as well, and that’s the field I work in. I’ve done hospital work, nursing home work, private practice, and for the last several years I’ve worked in the public school system in my little town. I’ve worked in most of the schools here, with all age groups, but now, I’m working with preschool and kindergarteners. 

BTCole:  Well, don’t get me started on UK!  Or we will have to start talking about basketball!  And our Jane Austen inspired authors might not find that as fascinating as UK fans do.  So why don’t you tell me a little bit about your family.  

KCox:  I’ve been married for 31 years, and have 2 grown children. My son is an electrical engineer like my husband. He lives here in town and has an amazingly gifted two-year old daughter that I get to help take care of, cover with hugs and kisses, and spoil mercilessly J  My daughter is in college, and she is also studying to be an electrical engineer (I guess we just make them one way.) She’s one of only 6 female EE majors in her class, so I’m really proud of her, and the trail she’s blazing in that area. I think she’s much more together than I was at her age!

BTCole:  I can tell that you are a proud mom!  Do you have any hobbies other than writing?  

KCox:  Reading and writing are my biggest hobbies right now. I used to sew, and I like to travel, and at one time, I did some gardening. I’d like to get back to some of those things, maybe after I retire, but my days are pretty full of work and family, reading and writing at the moment. Sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever get done what I want to do!  

BTCole:  How did you discover Jane Austen and ‘fall in love with her works’. 

KCox:  I encountered Austen later, in my 30s, when I saw the Emma Thompson “Sense and Sensibility”. I tried to read S&S then, but put it aside. Then I saw the BBC “Pride & Prejudice” miniseries (yes, the Colin Firth one), and I was hooked on the stories. After that, I went back to the original Austen novel, Pride & Prejudice, and then I was hooked on her writing. I devoured P&P, then went back to S&S, barreled through Persuasion, Emma. I didn’t read Mansfield Park or Northanger Abbey until after I found Jane Austen Fan Fiction, but I love them now too. Each story is unique, and Austen has so much to tell us about the human condition. She was a genius, a one-in-a-million kind of writer.

BTCole:  What initially inspired you to write Austen inspired stories?

KCox:  Austen herself inspired me to write and adapt her stories. I wanted to convey the themes I saw in her works to different time periods, because I think they’re still so relevant.

BTCole:  Did anything inspire your story in this anthology?  

KCox:  I was just putting the finishing touches on my Emma re-telling, called I Could Write a Book, when Christina approached me with the opportunity to “pick a rogue, any rogue!” and write his story. Frank Churchill seemed like a natural choice, since he and I had spent so much time together recently – ha! I felt like I knew him (and I’ve known some men like him over the years). As a reader, I always wanted to know what happened with Frank and Jane Fairfax, before, during and after the Emma story takes place. So I re-read several parts of Emma, and studied David Shepard’s annotated edition, and found my Frank, waiting to tell me his story.

BTCole:  And if there is anything you want to say about the other stories feel free.

KCox:  A friend who read Dangerous to Know said to me recently that the stories are so interesting, because with The Darcy Monologues, there is Darcy canon that has to be contended with, but not so with the Rogues. They’re in the canon, but how they got there is wildly speculative, which makes for some very interesting tales. I’m paraphrasing a little, but she said exactly what I was thinking myself. The stories are familiar, but novel enough to be intriguing, and the writing—my goodness, it’s just exceptional!

BTCole:  So what are your working on now?  Got a next story in the works? 

KCox:  I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head, and none have really settled in yet. I am planning a re-release of my award-winning At the Edge of the Sea for next year. It will be the 5th year since its first release.

Thanks so much for hosting the Dangerous to Know blog tour on Darcyholic Diversions! I hope your readers enjoy this anthology. It’s really a one-of-a-kind project in the Austen-inspired genre.

BTCole:  Yes I agree!  A fun read with lots of variety.  A perfect Christmas present to yourself!  

Excerpt from Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues
“An Honest Man” by Karen M Cox
The distance from Yorkshire to Weymouth was a long, arduous journey, so I broke the trip with several stops, including one in London, where I visited White’s for an evening of whist, and, shall we say, other entertainments. Glad to leave the city, for the heat in July was unbearable, I set out for the coast in the early morning hours. The turnpike from Dorchester to Weymouth was dry and dusty, but the air improved as I descended the Narrows leading to the town itself. I stopped for a brief moment to breathe in the tang of the salty, sea air. In another life, perhaps I should have been a sailor, or a merchant like my father’s forebears, living an ordinary existence in some harbor town. At times, that simple life appealed to me—the freedom to go where I wanted, do as I pleased, with no responsibilities, and no servants to observe my every movement. Yet, as my aunt often reminded me—in a veiled threat of disinheritance—my mother learned too late for her health that poverty is a heavier burden than familial duty.
My lodgings on one end of the Esplanade were simple but satisfactory, and since Hayward would not arrive until the next day, I decided to explore. Up one side of town and down the other I roamed, listening to the conversations as they drifted by me, hearing the seagulls cry, and appreciating the many fine-looking women bustling about, some walking arm-in-arm, some with stern-looking chaperones.
I had written a letter informing my family of my safe arrival, so I stopped at Harvey’s to post it. A queue had formed to pay for postage, so I joined in, rocking back and forth on my heels while I waited.
“Lovely day,” I commented, to no one in particular. The young woman in front of me turned her head and nodded curtly, barely sparing me a glance. She appeared to be one of those shy, wallflower-type creatures that found male attention terrifying, so naturally, I tried to engage her further.
“I say, miss, do you happen to know where a man might find a coffee around these parts? You see, I have just arrived, and I am still not familiar with the best places for food and drink.”
She turned her head again, in such a way that I could only observe her profile, and answered in a quiet, yet melodic voice. “Granger’s is but three doors down.”
I grinned, now more determined than ever to make her face me. “I believe I might be interested in a tart as well.”
“Granger’s sells mincemeat tarts, I believe, sir.”
“I think I fancy a jam-tart instead. Pray, might I inquire where are the best jam-tarts in Weymouth?”
She turned to face me now, deep set, gray eyes slightly rounded with surprise, pink flags in her creamy, delicate complexion. She narrowed those eyes, a most unusual color, now that I took more notice of them, and said with a quirk of her eyebrow, “I imagine that depends upon your taste, sir, for what is considered best for one is not for another.”
Impudent—and simultaneously elegant! She was certainly not intimidated by my double entendre, although her expression indicated that she had apprehended it, and that intrigued me. Alas, we had not been formally introduced, so the interaction could not be sustained much longer in the polite society of a public post office.
“Pardon me, madam, you are exactly correct in your observation. So, in which directions lies Granger’s?”
She pointed and turned back around as the postmaster beckoned her forward. I listened as she requested postage in the amount to send correspondence to Highbury. Interesting, as Highbury was the town of my birth, and where my father still resided. I wondered vaguely who this delicate looking flower might be, and if I should know her, but then she turned and marched out the door without looking my way. I watched her go, and then promptly forgot her as the postmaster called me forward.

Feature: Karen M Cox, Darcyholic Diversions, December 14
Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues BLOG TOUR
Contact info should you wish to have Karen M Cox write a feature or interview:

Author Bio:             KAREN M COX is an award-wining author of four novels accented with romance and history: 1932, Find Wonder in All Things, Undeceived, and I Could Write a Book, as well as an e-book novella companion to 1932, The Journey Home. She also contributed short stories for the anthologies Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer and The Darcy Monologues. Originally from Everett, Washington, Karen now lives in Central Kentucky with her husband, works as a pediatric speech pathologist, encourages her children, and spoils her granddaughter. Like Austen’s Emma, Karen has many hobbies and projects she doesn’t quite finish, but like Elizabeth Bennet, she aspires to be a great reader and an excellent walker.

Information on the Two Grand Prizes
There are two grandprize giveaways.  The first is set signed paperback books from the authors'.  You can enter at this rafflecopter link:  Click On This Link To Enter

The other grand prize includes autographs from Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle plus other Austen items.  To enter this give away you need to comment at each of the blog tour sites.


  1. I admit that the first time I picked up Jane Austen's books I lay them aside without finishing them. Many years later and I have now read them time and again. A great post thank you.

  2. I enjoyed getting more deets on Karen. Had no idea you moved around so much. LOL, surrounded by electrical engineers.
    I have always been curious about what was going on with Frank and Jane when they were hoodwinking all the Highbury residents and how it went for them afterward so I'm glad you 'revealed' his tale for us.

    Thank you so much for hosting the tour, Barbara. :)

  3. Thank you, Barb, for being part of the blog tour and for this lovely interview with Karen M Cox. I do hope you find time to read the collection this holiday break! Many thanks!

  4. I like the way Karen works in the coincidence of the Highbury connection and makes it part of the reason why Frank is attracted to Jane Fairfax. Very clever!

  5. Thanks for hosting us on the blog tour, Barbara! I hope your readers enjoyed the post and enjoy the anthology as well :) Happy holidays, everyone!

  6. Would they have offered *other* diversions at White's? I shouldn't imagine much besides drinking, gambling, smoking, and reading the paper....

  7. Karen, I was wondering why the e-book of At the Edge of the Sea was not available to purchase and through this interview I now know the answer. But why would you want to revise it?

    Anyway, I love reading about Jane Fairfax's and Frank Churchill's first meeting in Weymouth. I would love to know how they were formally introduced and what Frank sees in her to make him propose to Jane but I guess I can read the book to know more.

  8. Thank you for hosting this #RakesAndGentlemenRogues blog stop and supporting our anthology. The winner of the rafflecopter draw for all the books from the authors is Becky Cherrington. The winner for the blog tour comments (announced by a live draw on Facebook) for the Bingley's Teas, assortment of notecards, postcards, and playing cards as well as the autographed Colin Firth & Jennifer Ehle poster was dholcomb1 (Denise Holcomb). Congratulations! And thank you to all who supported "Dangerus to Know: Jane Austen's Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues" blog tour. So appreciate!! You made it fun.