Hello everyone! Welcome to the Undeceived blog tour. Thanks, Maria Grazia, for inviting me back to My Jane Austen Book Club!
It’s been over two years since my last full-length novel was released. That’s partly because my life has been very busy with some major changes and transitions: My youngest is graduating high school and heading off to college this year. My job as a pediatric speech pathologist became a full-time gig. And I’ve been busy adoring my first grandchild, who is just about to turn one.
But another big reason it’s been so long since my last book is because of what I chose to write: a spy novel variation of Pride and Prejudice set during the last few years of the Cold War. It was a project that required a lot in terms of research, writing and re-writing, but wow! What a ride it has been!
One of the first questions people ask me about this book is: “What on earth inspired you to write a Pride and Prejudice-themed spy novel?” It’s a valid question, given that my work to date has been mostly character-driven Austenesque fiction.
First of all, I’ve always loved writing Jane Austen’s classic characters in various times and places. In my mind, I go to the location, which typically has been a place I know well or have at least seen in person. I imagine what the time was like or what I’ve been told about it, and do a little necessary research. Then, I turn the Darcys, Elizabeths, Emmas, Annes, and Wentworths loose in the story. So, a spy novel was a fun way to put some favorite characters in yet another setting and see what would happen. What’s different with Undeceived is that I haven’t been to the locales, and I haven’t ever been a spy.
So how did it happen? Well, it’s all my husband’s fault, of course.
All kidding aside, the original seedling of an idea was his. He is a fan of the movie “No Way Out” starring Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman, and Sean Young. I had just finished writing Find Wonder in All Things and was getting At the Edge of the Sea ready for publication (so this was, what? Late 2012? 2013?), and he was scrolling through the TV listings and re-watched the 1980s spy thriller.
Him: “You know what you should write?”
Him: “A—what do you call it when you put two stories together?”
Me: “A mash-up?”
Him: “Yeah! A mash-up. Of Pride and Prejudice and “No Way Out.”
Me: “I can see that, but maybe without the dead girl.”
Him: “You should do it.”
Me: “I really should.”
Then, some months later, when we were in Nashville for the Southern Festival of Books, he pitched the idea to my publisher over dinner. And no, he didn’t ask me if it was okay first.
Later, after I’d started the project and realized it wouldn’t be a true mash-up, I’d ask him some question about plot or setting, and he’d give me a blank stare and say, “Hell, I don’t know. You’re the writer. Do what you want.”
But here’s the thing. Sure I was frustrated, but by then, I was hooked on the idea—gosh darn it! —and had to see it through. So I read, watched documentaries and movies, and then read some more. In fact, I read a lot. I read books on espionage: fiction and nonfiction. I searched the Internet and tapped my colleagues for information about places that were (to me anyway) foreign and exotic. Places like Lake Balaton, Tobago, East Berlin, Barbados. I read books about writing violence. I read about the sound system of Hungarian. I read about the CIA. I, who had never picked up a firearm in my life, took a class and learned to shoot a revolver.
And somehow, from all that information chaos swimming in my head, a story started to coalesce into existence. But for a long time, it was only unconnected pieces of a novel.
I’ve always used what some writing pundits call a “hybrid” approach to writing. That is, I’m a combination of a “Plotter” (outliner) and a “Pantser” (when you write “by the seat of your pants.”) But this spy novel was kicking my “pants”, because I was unable to keep all the story pieces in my head, even though I was following the general Pride and Prejudice story arc. So then the novel became an organizational challenge, an exercise in writing craft.
Undeceived is different than anything else I’ve written, not just in terms of era or locale, but in terms of genre. I ventured from the smooth (for me) waters of character-driven narrative—where I could write by the seat of my pants—to the frightening wilderness of PLOT-DRIVEN FICTION. I had to outline, make puzzle pieces fit, and remember events in detail. Perhaps more importantly, I had to decide which parts should be included in the narrative and which were irrelevant or needed to be left out until later.
I had to learn to use Scrivener (which I love, by the way.)
Yes, this novel took me away from my comfort zone, but I’ve stretched my writing muscles in ways I never dreamed I could. Add in the help of an excellent editor (thank you, Christina Boyd!), a copyeditor like Ellen Pickels, and the mighty cover artist skills of Zorylee Diaz-Lupitou, and Undeceived has turned into something I’ve learned to love fiercely. I’m excited that it found its way out of my head and into readers’ hands at last!
KAREN M. COX
About the Book
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.
About the Author
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.
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Blog tour schedule
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