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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spotlight on Carol Cox and A Test of Faith


CAROL COX is the author of over 25 novels and novellas, both historical and contemporary. She lives with her husband and daughter in a rural area of northern Arizona, where they have an abundance of dirt roads, rolling hills, wide open spaces, and glorious views. Her husband pastors two churches and operates a saddle shop in what they laughingly call his "spare" time. In addition to writing, Carol homeschools her daughter and enjoys crocheting and gardening (especially when she manages to keep the local rancher's cattle from grazing in her flower bed).

by Carol Cox
Published by Guideposts


When everything falls apart, can faith hold them together?

When a stolen car crashes through the front window of the Country Diner, Kate Hanlon vows to find the mysterious driver, who has somehow vanished into the night. But when Kate's wallet is discovered in the front seat of the car, she has a whole new reason to find the real culprit. How did it end up there? No one in town seems to believe that the pastor's wife is innocent, and with their whole ministry on the line, Kate sets out in search of answers. Meanwhile, Kate finds herself caring for her ailing husband after Paul breaks his ankle in a church basketball game, and the diner's owner Loretta isn't talking about when--or if--everyone's favorite restaurant will reopen. Is this all simply a test of faith, or is this a sign that the Hanlons' time in Copper Mill is coming to an end?

Buy Your Copy of A Test of Faith today!


1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

A Test of Faith is the first book I did for the Mystery and the Minister's Wife series from Guideposts. This series is a bit different than most in that individual books are written by different authors. It's been a real blessing to be part of this team! With an ongoing series like this, the main characters and setting details were already established, but there was plenty of room to develop a story within that framework. Kate Hanlon, the heroine, is a small-town pastor's wife who is also a stained glass artist. Being a creative person, she looks at life in a different way than most people, and her unique perspective--plus her faith in the Lord--helps her to solve mysteries. I've loved being part of this series, because I can relate to Kate on a number of levels. My husband has pastored small-town churches for over 20 years, and I've experienced the joys and quirks of living in a tight-knit community. Kate's creativity is expressed in her stained glass art, and mine is expressed in my writing. Of course, there are differences, too. For instance, Kate is a fabulous cook who does some of her best thinking while baking. We won't go into details about my talents in the kitchen other than to say that I don't share that gift with her!

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that are theirs and theirs alone?

I think we've all experienced times when we've felt isolated, even in the midst of a crowd. I was able to draw on the times this has happened to me in writing about the way Kate felt ostracized when people in her own community were willing to believe she had been involved in a crime. Kate and I also share an inquisitive nature--a much nicer term than "nosiness," don't you think?

One of the characters I enjoyed writing about most was Avery Griffin, a man who is trying to overcome his past. I haven't experienced the same struggles he goes through, but I have a strong admiration for those who have the grit and tenacity to leave their old life behind and make a new start.

3. If one of your characters were an ice cream flavor, what would he/she be and why?

Kate is definitely not plain vanilla! Her deep faith and her dedication to seeking out the truth give her character a much richer flavor than that. Given her love for coffee, let's say she's cappuccino ice cream with a fudge swirl. (I'm sure chocolate must be good for the mental processes involved in all her sleuthing.) And since she's a stained glass artist, would it be too much to add some rainbow sprinkles on the top?

4. Are there any themes in A Test of Faith that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the stories progressed?

A theme of trust runs throughout the book, both trusting in the Lord and trusting other people. How do we trust God when things in our life turn upside down? And what do we do when people who ought to know better don't trust us?

Another theme that came up as the story progressed was how to handle being falsely accused. What happens when circumstances seem to point to us being guilty of something we didn't do? We expect people who know us to give us the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes no amount of explanation will convince others that we haven't done anything wrong. When that happens, there is little else we can do but hold our heads up and keep on going, trusting that the truth will eventually come out and remembering that the Lord already knows the truth and will sustain us no matter what. And that is much easier said than done!

5. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

For me, the first draft--all of it--is the hardest part of any book. After 25 titles, you'd think the process would get easier over time, but that hasn't been the case. It's always an uphill battle to get that rough draft down, but I feel a huge sense of relief once that's done and I can start refining the story.

The most enjoyable part of this book was writing the scene where the townspeople are picketing the diner. I wanted something to happen that was over the top in a goofy, yet lovable way. Quirky characters and scenes are always my favorites to write, and I treasure those offbeat moments in real life. They add the humor that lightens situations that would be pretty dismal otherwise.

6. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

I'm currently at work on my fourth book for the Mystery and the Minister's Wife series. It's still in the early stages--so early that I don't even have a definite title or release date yet! Since I don't want to give away the plot, I'll just say that in this one, Kate isn't able to go out and sleuth on her own, so she has to rely on her faith, her deductive abilities, and help from her friends more than ever. Readers can check my website at for updates as the book progresses!

Thank you so much for having me here today. Those were wonderful questions, and I've had a great time!

* * * * *

Thank you, Carol, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of A Test of Faith.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.


Anonymous said...

I have read this book and really enjoyed it. I had part of it figured out, but not all of it and that's all I'll say, you have to read it yourself.

Carol writes an interesting book and they're hard to put down and get busy doing other things.

Karla Baker
PO Box 926
Chino Valley, AZ

Edna said...

I love to read Carol Cox and have some of her books, but not this one, so please enter me into the contest to win her book. The interview was great.


Anonymous said...

Another theme that came up as the story progressed was how to handle being falsely accused.

THIS is what I am most interested in reading. I was falsely accused and must admit I didn't handle it so well. I learned from it, but would like advise on how to avoid doing it again. Pleas enter me in your contest.

I have a question: How difficult is it to write a book in a series that you didn't start? That really piques my interest.


Merry said...

Count me in for A Test of Faith. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi Karla,

Glad to hear you enjoyed the book! And I'm especially happy to know that you didn't figure it all out until the end. : )

Hi Edna,

I'm glad you found the blog! Thanks for your kind comments about my books and about the interview. Tiff asks great questions, doesn't she?

Anonymous said...

Hi Linda,

I'm sorry to hear you've gone through such a difficult time. Dealing with a false accusation is very painful. And, sadly, in real life the truth doesn't always come out in a way that provides the happily-ever-after ending we like to read about.

> I have a question: How difficult is it to write a book in a series that you didn't start? That really piques my interest.

That's a great question! It's fun and challenging at the same time. One plus for me was that I loved the characters from the first time I read the descriptions I got from the publisher. Kate and Paul are such warm, genuine people--the kind I'd like to have as friends. There are some great secondary characters, too. As I mentioned in the interview, I love quirky characters in fiction as well as in real life, and being able to have them play an ongoing role in the series has been SO much fun! And since my husband has pastored in small towns, I've been able to draw on my own experiences in knowing how the dynamics of small-town life work.

There are challenges, too. One is making sure we don't repeat a story line one of the other authors has already used. Another is maintaining consistency in the setting and the characters. We can always shoot out an email to the rest of the author team if we have any questions, and we have fabulous editors who make sure we all stay on track. It has been a unique--and wonderful!--experience.

Carol Cox said...

Hi Mez,

It's good to "see" you here. I'm glad the book sounds interesting!

Deborah said...

please enter me! and Amber if you've had your baby by the time you get this, congrats!!! and if you're still waiting...hang in there!

Cackleberry Homestead said...

Please add me for the contest. Thanks!

Edna said...

please enter me into the contest for a chance to win one of Carol's books

Carol Cox said...

Hi Deborah,

Thanks for entering! Here's hoping we hear some baby news soon!

Carol Cox said...

Hi Crystal,

Thanks for stopping by and putting your name in!

windycindy said...

What a fascinating story line!
This is my kind of book! Please add my name to your drawing. I appreciate it! Many thanks, Cindi

Carol Cox said...

Hi Cindi,

Loved your comments! Thanks so much! I'm glad you stopped by.

Nikki Hahn said...

Wonderful interview! I love hearing how and where a writer gets her inspiration.

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

We have a winner from this drawing and that is:


Congratulations! I have sent your information to Carol so she can send out your book.

As always, thanks to everyone for your continued support.