Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? If not, how did you catch the writing bug?

My mother taught me to read before I ever started school, and books have always been a huge part of my life. Around age four, I decided to write my own book, a fairy story. The fact that I couldn’t write yet posed a bit of a problem, but I overcame that by recruiting my grandmother to take down the story as I dictated. All went well until I added a couple of sinister characters who caught the fairy and pulled off her wings. That was too much for Grammy, who immediately resigned as my secretary, thereby putting my writing career on hold for a number of years.

How did you come up with the idea for Love in Disguise?

I’ve always been fascinated by stories about masters of disguise. Imagine being able to change your appearance so completely that you could be unrecognizable, even to people who know you! The idea intrigued me so much that I began toying with the idea of creating a character who had that ability.

With her background in the theater, Ellie was a natural for the role, even though playing a middle-aged widow wasn’t quite what she had in mind. Now she not only has to change her appearance, she also has to remember to walk, talk, and act like a woman much older than herself.

Authors are notorious for making things worse for our poor characters, so I needed a way to complicate Ellie’s life even more, giving her two false identities to deal with instead of just one. Transforming herself into dazzling Jessie Monroe was certainly more to Ellie’s liking, but that new identity brought a set of challenges all its own.

Nora: I really enjoyed how you started this book out in the theater and took it to the wild west. I have a theater background and could relate to the world you described. Oh, and when Ellie had to transform herself to accomplish her mission I totally enjoyed all that she went through and the way she had to accomplish her task. Fun!

What was your favorite scene to write? Why?
My husband & I did research for this book @ Tombstone
Considering the crazy situation Ellie finds herself in, it’s hard to pick out just one scene! One incident that stands out in my mind is when Steven Pierce takes “Lavinia” (the middle-aged widow Ellie portrays in the book) for a tour of his mine. Ellie is strongly attracted to Steven, but since she’s dressed as a gray-haired woman old enough to be his mother, she has to watch her every move to keep from revealing her feelings.
I love quirky situations like this, and not just in fiction. Even somber moments often have an underlying layer of humor, and being able to spot those has helped me get through some difficult situations.

Nora: I Loved that scene too. Parts of your book just made me laugh out loud! I really felt for Ellie and enjoyed her very much. I liked Steven Pierce too!

What do you hope people take away from your book Love in Disguise?

Ellie’s story, with all its complications and pitfalls, intrigued me from the beginning. But as I wrote the book, I realized her situation is one most of us can relate to on a deeper level as well.

Fear of acceptance is a very real issue for many of us. We often show only certain facets of ourselves to others, depending on the circumstances and who we’re with. Much like Ellie, we tend to wear a disguise of some sort rather than letting others see us as we really are.

I hope my readers come away with a renewed sense of their true identity in Christ so they can live in the freedom He gives and let that identity be the face they show to the world.

Nora: I liked how you showed this matter in your book. I liked that your book was never preachy but real.

Can you share some of your testimony with us?

Even though I grew up attending church regularly, no one ever explained the concept of salvation to me. By the time I reached my teens, I knew there was a God, knew that Jesus was His Son, and believed there was a heaven . . . but I had no idea what I had to do to get there. What I did know was that if heaven was just for people who met God’s standards, there was no way I could ever measure up to that ideal on my own.

One day an evangelist spoke during an assembly at the public high school I attended. (I am still trying to figure out how he managed that!) While he wasn’t permitted to mention Jesus by name, he shared enough to make me realize that while I knew about God, he actually knew God. He invited the students to a youth rally later that week, and I persuaded my parents to let me go. That night, I heard the beauty and simplicity of the gospel for the very first time. Salvation was freely available . . . and it didn’t depend on me! I trusted Jesus as my Savior that same night. What I didn’t know at the time was that life as a follower of Christ was so much more than a ticket to heaven, and that the decision I made then was just the beginning of a relationship that has grown deeper and sweeter over the years.

Nora: Thanks for sharing your heart and your testimony!


What movie most affected you growing up, If you didn’t watch movies what book affected you most in your youth?

The movie I remember most from my childhood was the one I didn’t see. My parents made plans for us to watch Old Yeller at the local drive-in theater. This was really a big deal, because my father was a dairy farmer and his long workdays didn’t leave a lot of time for family outings like that. For some reason, I dragged my heels when it came time to go, and when we got to the drive-in, the movie had already started. We were told we could wait until the next showing started, but my parents decided we’d just go back home. I suspect they were trying to make a point about my actions having consequences, and it worked.

Years later when my husband and I were on our honeymoon, we saw a notice that Old Yeller was playing in a local retro theater. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to see it at last. I had no idea how emotional the ending would be, or that it would make me cry like a baby. After we got back home, I happily told my parents how relieved I was that I hadn’t seen the movie earlier. If it had that kind of impact on me as a 20-year-old, it would have been devastating at age four. That seemed to take the wind right out of their sails. Poor Mom and Dad.

Nora: There was a movie like that I wanted to see when I was a kid. It was the Jungle Book. My sisters and I got in trouble and never did see that movie in the theater as a kid. I too saw my childhood dream movie as an adult. It made laugh and remember! I've heard that Old Yeller was a sad movie. I still haven't seen it Grin!

What is the most special thing anyone has ever done for you?
My husband & I @Goodenough Mine
In 1991, my husband paid my way to my first writers’ conference as a birthday gift. That was huge to me, because it meant he believed in me and in my dream of writing. We couldn’t really afford the cost of the conference, but he did it anyway, which made it a very tangible form of encouragement, and one that opened the doors to the realization of a lifelong dream.

Nora: Great Gift!

A friend of yours has a time travel machine and will let you have it for a couple of days. What would you do with it? Any events you’d like to experience? If so which ones?

A time machine? Let me at it! I already have a list of times I’d like to visit, so here are two of my top choices.
Pictures of O.K. CARRAL More research for Love in Disguise

I’ve always wanted to see what Tombstone was like in the early 1880s. While that was the heyday of the Earps and Doc Holliday, there is so much more to the town’s history than that 30-second shootout at the O.K. Corral. I’d love to see it as it really was, minus the Hollywood spin.
More research for Love In Disguise
Then I’d move ahead a few years to 1893, and visit the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. When I did research for a three-book series set at this World’s Fair, I was absolutely captivated by the grandeur of the setting and the scope of the exhibits . . . not to mention some of the people who visited there! It would be a dream come true to be able to experience that magnificent moment in our nation’s history firsthand.

You are shipwrecked on an uninhabited tropical island with a group of Christians – all friends and relatives of yours. You all have to work as a team to survive. Many roles have to be filled. Which role do you think you’d play?

Going along with the tropical island theme, I would make a great second banana. I don’t have strong leadership skills, but I’m a terrific helper (or instigator, depending on your point of view). And if filling that role meant spending most of my time outdoors where I could enjoy the lush scenery, that would be even better! I grew up in Arizona, so any place that has water and lots of greenery automatically ranks as a great vacation spot . . . even with a shipwreck involved.

Nora: I'm with the team spirit too!

You've been given 48 hours to hang out with any two (alive or dead). Who would you pick and what would you do?

I would like to travel along with Jesus and His followers—not on one of the days filled with miracle after miracle, just a “regular” day . . . if any day could be considered “regular” when Jesus was involved! The last verses in the book of John tell us that so much more happened than was ever recorded. I’d love to witness some of those unrecorded times.

My second choice would be Nellie Cashman, also known as The Angel of Tombstone. (Do you catch a hint of fascination with all things Tombstone here?) She lived in an era when women were expected to fit the mold prescribed by society, but apparently Nellie never got that memo. After coming to San Francisco in 1869, she spent much of her time in rugged western mining camps,
sometimes going out on prospecting expeditions as the lone female in a group of men, but never losing her standing as an upright, virtuous woman. One biographer described her as being “pretty as a Victorian cameo, and when necessary, tougher than two-penny nails.” On top of it all, she was a woman of deep faith. What an inspiration!

What three books did you love as a kid?

I was always drawn more to series rather than single titles. When I was in kindergarten, my dad came home one evening with a book called The Happy Hollisters, the first title in a series of stories about five young brothers and sisters who solved mysteries. That was the beginning of my love for the mystery genre.

Next came the Trixie Belden books—again, a mystery series, but written for a slightly older audience. Being an only child, I loved the camaraderie Trixie shared with her group of friends! Several years ago, I found a number of these books at a church library sale and snapped them up so my own daughter could have a turn at reading them.

When I was in junior high, my grandfather loaned me one of his books, The Mysterious Rider by Zane Grey. It was the first Western novel I’d ever read, and even though the writing style was somewhat dated, seeing the West through Grey’s eyes made me look at my familiar surroundings from a new perspective and sparked a deeper appreciation for my native Arizona. One thing about the book irked me, though, and it bugs me to this day—the last name of the lead character is Belllounds. Seriously, Belllounds. With three l’s. How does anyone come up with a name like that?

What three things would you rather not live without?

My Bible—the foundation for who I am and what I do.

My family—my greatest treasures this side of heaven.

My laptop and a good wi-fi connection. I know, I know. Things like food and water are important too. And I know techie gadgets aren’t necessary to sustain life. But being able to stay connected with people I care about—regardless of the physical distance that separates us—is something I value immensely.

Thanks so much for having me as a guest today, Nora. You’ve asked some great questions, and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with you!


THANKS Carol for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books. Thanks for all the great pictures. Fun! I’m excited about your giveaway at TBCN. Thanks to Bethany House for sponsoring your contest and giving away 10 copies of your new book Love In Disguise. This is the first book I've read my you Carol and it won't be the last. I really enjoyed this book. I highly recommend it as a great summer read and a book club pick. There is so much to discuss! Loved it!

Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network


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