Ten Questions with Billy Ray Davenport, narrator of At the Edge of the Sea:
Karen: “Thank you for joining me today, Billy Ray. I’m sure the readers at Romance Junkies will enjoy getting to know a little about you.”
Billy Ray: “Your welcome, ma’am.”
Karen: “Okay, then. First things first—what kind of an old-fashioned name is Billy Ray?”
Billy Ray: *scowls* “It’s my name. William was my mother’s father’s name, and Raymond is my father’s name. So…Billy Ray. It makes perfect sense.”
Karen: “And what brings you to the bubbling metropolis of Orchard Hill?”
Billy Ray: “I’m working with my father’s friend Dr. Alvin Miller this summer. I want to be a physician like Doc.”
Karen: “So you have a grand, well thought-out life plan, do you?”
Billy Ray: “Yes, ma’am, I do.”
Karen: “What happens after the summer ends?”
Billy Ray: “Well, I finished college last May, and after the summer’s over, in September, 1959, I’ll be heading off to medical school.”
Karen: “You’ve recently been spotted in the company of one Lizzy Quinlan…”
*Billy Ray smiles – interviewer stares for several seconds, mouth slightly open*
Billy Ray: “Ma’am?”
Billy Ray: “Did you have a question?”
Karen: “Me? Oh…yes, I did. Um…wow, that’s some smile you’ve got there.”
Billy Ray: *blushes and looks away*
Karen: “I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”
Billy Ray: “You didn’t.” *squirms in his chair* “What was the question?”
Karen: “Question? Oh, right. Hold on; I’ll think of it…yes, now I remember: tell me about Lizzy Quinlan.”
Billy Ray: *starts to smile, and then stops, looking self-consciously away from the interviewer* “Lizzy is different than anybody I’ve ever known. I wasn’t sure I liked her much at first, but she grew on me. She’s funny and smart, and she’s a good big sister. She likes to tease me about how square and proper I am. At first, her teasing made me kind of mad, but I think I’m starting to like it a little bit. And she’s very beautiful.”
Karen: “Sounds like you and she have something going on.”
Billy Ray: *grins sheepishly* “I don’t know—maybe. I mean, we’re friends, but I’m not sure my father would like it if we had something going on.”
Karen: “Why not?”
Billy Ray: “The people here in Orchard Hill say unkind things about her, but I don’t put much stock in small town gossip. My father’s a little concerned, I guess. He wants me to make friends with good people.”
Karen: “I see.”
Billy Ray: “But Lizzy is a good person, and once my father understands that, he’ll come around. He’s a fair man.”
Karen: “So you don’t care what the people of Orchard Hill think?”
Billy Ray: *frowns* “Nobody decides who my friends are but me.”
Karen: “Not even your father?”
Billy Ray: “He just doesn’t understand yet, but he will.”
Karen: “Ah, you’re a rebel then?
Billy Ray: *crosses arms* “No, ma’am. I just like to think for myself, make my own decisions about people. Judge not, lest ye be judged. That’s how I was taught.”
Karen: “How did a guy like you meet someone like Lizzy Quinlan?”
Billy Ray: *smiles again* “It’s kind of an amusing story. It all started when a bunch of us went out to help Mr. Quinlan make some barn repairs…”
(Excerpt from At the Edge of the Sea, Chapter 2)
We were working on the Quinlans’ barn by nine o’clock the next morning. About a dozen people showed up to help, and I noticed a fair number of stray looks toward to the house—from the young guys mostly but even from some of the men. About eleven o’clock, those looks were rewarded with a slam of the screen door and a holler.
“Daddy, if y’all are hungry, we got your dinner up here.”
“Thank you, Lizzy,” Tom replied. “We’ll be up in a minute or two.”
I turned my head toward the sound of the girl’s voice and promptly hit my thumb with the hammer. Somehow, I managed to squelch my yell, and as I stuck my thumb in my mouth to soothe it, I carefully took in the captivating sight of Lizzy Quinlan.
She was not very tall. I was probably head and shoulders above her, but her figure was—there was no other word for it—voluptuous. It was made even more so by the denim cut-offs that hugged her hips and the sleeveless red-gingham blouse that stretched and strained against the buttons across her chest. She’d left the ends of the blouse unbuttoned and tied them in a knot around her middle, showing the hourglass curve of her waist. She was barefoot, and long, lush dark curls were drawn back in a ponytail that bounced when she walked. Her lips and her toenails were painted what I’d overheard Aunt Catherine call ‘harlot red’ when she thought I wasn’t listening. Marlene Miller had called Lizzy Quinlan a slut, and I didn’t want to judge a book by its cover, but I had to admit she kind of looked the part. She took springy running steps to the barn, leaping like a gazelle over rocks and two-by-fours until she reached her father.
They spoke briefly, and then he turned to the rest of us and said, “We’re mighty grateful to y’all for your help, so my girls have fixed some victuals. It ain’t much, but we’ll share what we got. If you want to go into the kitchen and grab a plate, the food’s in there, and we can sit at the picnic table out back.”
Several men mumbled their thanks as they passed by Mr. Quinlan and Lizzy. She looked
each one straight in the eye, a smug, calculating smile on her lips. Real smiles, however,
were saved for Charles and his father. That’s when I noticed her eyes, dark and sparkling like fireworks in the night sky. She turned those fine eyes my way, and I felt my face get hot.
She whispered to Charlie and pointed, and I simply stared back at her. And I continued to stare as she approached me.
“Aren’t you a little old to be sucking your thumb?” she asked, a teasing lilt in her voice.
“What? Oh…” I hadn’t realized it was still in there and dropped my hand to my side quickly.
“I hit my thumb with the hammer.”
“Let me see.” She took my hand in hers and inspected it. “Can you bend it?” she asked.
I nodded then realized her head was bent forward so she couldn’t see me. “Yes, ma’am, I’m sure it’s fine.” My breath stirred the strands of curls that escaped her ponytail.
In slow motion, her face rose to meet mine, and I caught the faintest glimpse of something puzzling in her expression before she covered it with her teasing smile. “Oh, poor baby.” She rubbed the base of my thumb, kneading it with her fingers. Her lips formed a little pout, and in a throaty whisper she said, Does that feel better?”
I jerked my hand back. “Yes, thank you.” I started toward the house, and ran right into a stern, troubled look from my father. I kept my back to Lizzy Quinlan and walked straight into the kitchen.
Karen M Cox writes novels accented with romance and history. Her first two published novels, 1932 and Find Wonder in All Things, each one Independent Publisher Book Awards for Romance, in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Find Wonder in All Things was a Next Generation Indie Book Finalist in Romance for 2013. Her third novel, At the Edge of the Sea, will be released in October, 2013 from Meryton Press.
At the Edge of the Sea
Lizzy Quinlan lives in the shadow of her past…
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 story told by an idealistic 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.
Connect with Karen through her author’s blog: www.karenmcox.merytonpress.com
Her facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/karenmcox1932
At the Edge of the Sea facebook Page: www.facebook.com/karenmcoxATEOTS
Or on Twitter: @karenmcox1932
At the Edge of the Sea Blog Tour 2013
Sep 25: Writing Secrets of Seven Scribes
Sep 27: Romance Novel News
Oct 1 More Agreeably Engaged
Oct 2: Sharon Buchbinder’s Blog
Oct 3: Nights of Passion
Oct 6: Romance Junkies
Oct 8: Love Romance Passion
Oct 10: Romance Reviews Today
Oct 16 Leatherbound Reviews
Oct 19: Savvy Authors