Chat with Nicola Cornick

Nicola Cornick

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Update: Thanks to everyone who dropped by and left a comment. Congratulations to Marlene Gagnon. You’re Nicola’s winner!

I’m so excited to welcome USA Today Bestseller Nicola Cornick to my my blog today. My first introduction to this talented writer was her Brides of Fortune series. I’m happy to report she’s as delightful a person as her inventive stories would indicate!

Pour yourself a cup of coffee (or tea! Nicola is British!) and join us for a little cyber-chat.

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Nicola: Thank you very much for inviting me to visit your blog! It’s a great pleasure to be here.

Mia: The pleasure is mine. I notice on your website that you are interested in genealogy. Recently, I learned one of my ancestors was accused of being a witch in Salem. Have you discovered any interesting characters in your family tree?

Nicola: Goodness, that’s a very dramatic thing to discover about one of your ancestors, Mia. I’m wondering how you felt about that. I think that’s one of the fascinating things about genealogy – you come across all sorts of amazing stories. I recently discovered that on my father’s side I am descended from an 11th century Welsh princess which is lovely because until then I thought I hadn’t any Celtic blood at all.

More recently, in my mother’s family at the turn of the 19th century there was a disputed inheritance. My great great great grandfather missed out on a title and an estate because he refused to go up to London to claim his inheritance as he was ashamed of being illiterate. But alongside these more dramatic tales are everyday experiences, births, marriages, good things and bad, that make me feel closer to my ancestors and also throw light on how people lived.

Mia: Wow, a Celtic princess and an illiterate lord. You do have an interesting back story. (If anyone would like to hear more about the accused witch in my family tree, and how I felt about what I discovered, I did blog about it last year.)

You live in England, graduated with a degree in Medieval history from London University, and serve as a guide for a 17th century hunting lodge. How do you feel your hands-on experience informs your fiction?

Nicola: I’m very lucky that I do have places on my doorstep that inform my research, everything from the Bath Assembly Rooms to costume and carriage collections that I can visit with specialists that I can talk to. I pick up all sorts of fascinating historical snippets that way, such as the fact that if you hail a taxi in London, the driver is supposed to ask you if you have any notifiable illnesses such as smallpox or the plague! This goes back to the Georgian period when drivers of hackney carriages had to ask passengers if they were about to expire as it was illegal for them to carry a corpse!

I think that working in an historic house also inspires me in a more general way. As soon as you step over the threshold you are wrapped in history, which is a wonderful feeling.

Mia: I love discovering those kinds of esoteric little factoids. I know what you mean about historic houses. I live in Boston, which for the US is an old city, so I have opportunity to visit some period homes. (I’ve heard it said that the difference between Americans and Europeans is that Americans think 100 years is a long time and Europeans think 100 miles is a long distance.)

Speaking of long distances, you’re incredibly well-traveled. What’s the most fascinating place you’ve ever visited?

Nicola: Oh, that’s a tough choice! I do love to travel to see new places and also to visit family and friends in countries such as the US and Canada. I think Scandinavia is probably the most fascinating place I’ve been. I loved seeing geysers in Iceland, polar bears in Spitzbergen and the Northern Lights in Norway. But all my trips have been amazing.

Mia: Oooo, I’m so jealous. I’d love to visit Scandinavia someday. I’m with you on the geysers. We used to live in Wyoming and camped in Yellowstone each year. The thermal features there are fascinating.

You and I share a love of dogs. My pets are always pound puppies and I understand you support Guide Dog charities. What do you think a dog adds to family life?

Nicola: Until I was in my thirties I’d never had a dog because my parents weren’t too keen on having pets about the house and so I was completely unfamiliar with dogs in particular. Then I was working full time away from home so it wasn’t convenient… Finally when I became a full time author my husband, who had had dogs all his life, suggested that we should get Monty, our black labrador. I was quite apprehensive at first and Monty was a very naughty puppy but we learned together. Having a dog is wonderful for the family. Monty adores all my nieces and nephews and they have learned not to be afraid of dogs and to treat him gently. I love the companionship and the unconditional love that a dog gives. They all have their funny quirky little habits too. And getting out of the house to take Monty for walks is good for me.

The guide dog puppies are a different matter. I love doing the puppy walking but it is sooo hard to give them back at the end of the year! It makes me proud, though, to think of the fabulous job they are being trained to do and to be a small part of that process.

Mia: Oh, I hear you about the naughty puppy bit. We had a chocolate lab when our girls were small and I’d have given the dog away a dozen times that first year of her life. After that, I wouldn’t have taken a million dollars for her.

Guess we need to talk a little about books. Please tell us about your newest series–The Scandalous Women of the Ton.

Mistress by Midnight

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Nicola: I’ve always liked the idea of strong female characters doing unusual and sometimes outrageous things and that is the idea behind the Scandalous Women of the Ton series. Each of my heroines in the six part series is unusual. One travels to far-flung parts of the globe, another works for a living and the heroine of the next book in the series, Notorious, is a professional heartbreaker who is paid by rich parents to ruin their offsprings’ unsuitable engagements! It’s been a fun series to write but it sprang from my research in that the more reading I have done the more I have realized what strong and unconventional women there were around in the Regency period. I wanted to explore that!

Mia: And now we’ll all want to explore along with you!

Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Nicola. If my readers want to learn more about you and your books, I urge them to visit your lovely website.

Nicola: I’m very happy to give away a book to a commenter – I have a copy of Lord of Scandal, my 2008 RITA nominated book to give.

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Mia: Now that’s a great incentive to ask a bestselling author a question! It’s your turn to keep the conversation going. ;-)

32 thoughts on “Chat with Nicola Cornick

  1. Quilt Lady says:

    Mia, just found your new blog, will be checking it more often. Great interview Nicola, I am glad you came here to visit and I love your books. Like you I love strong female characters. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Mia Marlowe says:

    I’m so glad you could take the time to visit with us, Nicola. And thanks for writing such engaging stories!

  3. Thank you so much for having me to visit today and for all the interesting questions. I’ve enjoyed chatting with everyone very much!

  4. Johanna Jochum says:

    Love the post today! Great interveiw. I was wondering what are some of your favorite authors to read and what are you reading now? If you have the time that is! LOL!

    1. Hi Johanna! I’m so pleased you enjoyed the interview. I love talking about people’s favourite reading matter and want to hear what everyone else is currently reading! For myself, I’m reading an oldie-but-goodie: Jane Aiken Hodge’s Marry in Haste. I love her historicals. I’ve also got Sarah Morgan’s latest Harlequin Presents to read: “Bella and the Merciless Sheik.” How I love her books! And when (if) I ever finish this ms I have a whole pile of historical romance to read by some of my favourite authors, Jo Beverley, Cara Elliot and I’m also hoping Mia’s Touch of a Thief will arrive by then!

  5. Wonderful interview, ladies! I so admire authors who write wonderful historicals and nail all of those details perfectly!

    Also…I grew up with black labs. Best dogs ever. :)

    1. Thank you, Rebecca! And a big awwww for the black labs!

  6. Leanna Morris says:

    Interesting interview. Would love to win a copy of the book!
    lgm52@hotmail.com

    1. Hi Leanna! Thank you – I’m so pleased you liked the interview. It was lots of fun to do with Mia’s interesting questions!

  7. Lovely interview Mia and Nicola!

    Nicola, you know I love ALL of your books! And the little historical quirks and quibbles you include are some of the many reasons I do.

    I’m trying to decide under what circumstances it became necessary to make a law regarding carrying a corpse in a hackney! I always wonder that when those odd little laws pop up.

    Do you spend a great deal of time mapping out your hero and heroine’s internal conflicts before you write? I realize the Regency provides some great fodder for that, but the actual roadblocks to HEA that come from the characters’ themselves, do you try to arrive at those before you beging?

    And do give Monty and the Cat Who Rules the World my very best.

    1. Hi Louisa! Lovely to see you here! I have to confess that I don’t spend a lot of time mapping out my hero and heroine’s internal conflicts before I write. I have a very broad idea of the BIG conflict and then I dive in. I’m a total fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants writer and I write the situation and wait to see how my characters react.

      Sometimes this approach works. Sometimes not.
      If I get stuck it’s usually because I don’t yet know my characters well enough to understand how they would respond and I have to write myself into them. I have tried planning things out in more details but I find I almost always go off track.

      I don’t always find this a comfortable way of working but I have finally come to accept that it is my writing process so I’m stuck with it!

      1. Forgot to say – I think the edict about corpses in hackney carriages originally came about during the plagues of the 17th century. Someone would hop in, keel over and by the time the carriage arrived they would be a corpse and the driver would be arrested for spreading the plage to another area!

  8. Jeanne Miro says:

    Nicola –
    What one subject in school gave you the most inspiration in researching and becoming interested in writing historical romance? Did you have a favorite time period of history that particular caught you attention and why?

    I love your books and the strong characters that you write. You always manage to draw me into your stories that there are times I feel that I am actually there, probably as an servant, unobserved and hearing but paying attention to everything around me!

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      How cool that you put yourself into the story that way, Jeanne.

      1. Yes, I love the idea of you being in the corner and watching all the action, Jeanne. And what a lovely compliment to be able to draw readers into the setting. Thank you!

        I did love my history lessons at school and had a particularly inspirational teacher in Mrs Chary. She told us wonderful stories about the wives of Henry VIII and made the lessons feel more like watching an episode of The Tudors than something dry and boring (well, maybe not *quite* like The Tudors)! So Tudor history was my first love in school. I was a huge Anne Boleyn fan!

  9. Sandy says:

    A lovely interview, Mia and Nicola.

    History has always been a big part of my life. I love to travel and learn about other cultures.

    I never had pets when I was a child, but we have two cats now. Smile. Hubby was a dog person, but he loves cats now.

    1. Hi Sandy! Thank you – I’m so pleased you enjoyed the interview and I’m glad to find a kindred spirit who enjoys travel and history, not to mention pets!

  10. Maurine H says:

    Hi Nicola and Mia,
    I had to laugh about the cat walking across the keyboard. I can totally identify with that.

    I have to admit that historicals are not what I usually read, though recently I’ve rediscovered Jane Austen. I do enjoy reading Mia’s (plus the ones she wrote under her other names) and if she likes your books, I’m sure I will, too. I like that you “made up” a possible occupation of professional heartbreaker and it sounds like a book I’d like to read.

    It seems to me that setting a story during the Regency period would provide a lot of built-in conflict. Do you find it easy to give your characters conflict or does the period restrict your choices of conflict?

    I enjoyed reading your interview and wish you the best.

    1. Hi Maurine! Yes, the cat phenomenon is definitely something pet owners can relate to! She loves to sabotage my keyboard.

      Yes, I think the Regency period provides a lot of built-in conflict. There’s the external conflict caused by events such as the Napoleonic Wars – in one of my recent books One Wicked Sin I had the hero and heroine on different sides in the conflict. There’s also the more subtle conflict caused by things such as the rules of society, the way people had to behave, the conflicts that ensued if you broke the rules… One of things I love about the Regency period is the contrast between the sort of strict social structure you see reflected in Jane Austen’s books and all the emotions and conflict that was going on beneath the surface.

  11. Is there a character in your books that you love over all the rest, one that will not leave you even after you’ve written their story?

    1. Ooh, that’s another great question, Marleen! Hmm, I tend to fall in love with all my characters at the time of writing (I was trying to explain this to an interviewer the other day without sound too weird!) but when I finish their story usually I move on. Occasionally there are characters I think about long after the story is ended; Justin Kestrel from my Bluestocking Brides series – I wish I’d written his book! I definitely missed a trick there. There is one character who appears in all my books; Mr Churchward, the lawyer, is a character who I love dearly. He’s seen it all!

  12. Eliza Knight says:

    Great interview! Thanks for sharing :) I love that your research literally surrounds you! Wishing you many sales!

    ~Eliza

    1. Thank you so much, Eliza!

  13. Nicola,
    I love your books; I am a great fan.

    Could you tell me what you wish you knew about the publishing business before you began this crazy lifestyle?

    1. Hi Regina, and thank you so much! I knew next to nothing about the publishing business before I became an author. I hadn’t even realised, for example, that the UK Romantic Novelists’ Association ran a scheme to help aspiring authors get published. I’d taken no writing courses and didn’t know any writers, except my godmother who wrote non-fiction about churches.

      All I knew was that I enjoyed reading historical romance and wanted to try writing it as well. With hindsight I wish I had known more because the writing community is so close knit and supportive I think I could have learned a great deal from it and maybe it wouldn’t have taken me 12 years to get published – or maybe it still would have done!

      1. Mia Marlowe says:

        Thanks for sharing how long it took you to receive “the call.” Sometimes, aspiring writers get discouraged when they hear someone has sold their very first manuscript. It took me several years and 3 manuscripts to finally sell, but I wouldn’t trade that learning time. Writing is such a deep ocean of things to master and I still feel like I’m merely dabbling my toes in the water.

        1. Absolutely, Mia. I know there are a few people who hit success almost immediately but a lot of us, in contrast, spend a long time in “apprenticeship.” And I totally agree with you about learning time. I’m still learning and I hope I alway will.

  14. Nynke says:

    Nicola, I love your books! Yours were some of the first historical romances I ever read, and they helped to get me hooked. :)

    I wonder, did professional heartbreakers really exist in Regency England?

    1. Hi Nynke! I feel hugely honoured that my books were amongst the first historical romances you ever read. Wow!

      Did professional heartbreakers really exist in Regency England? Possibly not in the context that I have created one, although who knows? I do believe that there was plenty of manoeuvring going on in the marriage mart. A protective parent might certainly try to buy off an unsuitable suitor, for example. It’s a small step from there, I think, to employ someone deliberately to lead a man astray in order to break up an unsuitable match.

  15. Hi Mia and Nicola

    I loved Mistress by Midnight.

    What is the most important trait a Regency heroine should have?

    1. Hi Bronwen! Thank you so much for dropping in to chat with me and for your kind words about Mistress by Midnight. A big thank you to Mia as well for hosting me today. It’s fun to be here!

      What is the most important trait a Regency heroine should have? That is a really good question and I’m hopeless at pinning it down to one character trait, to be honest. But if I have to… Above all, I like my heroines to be strong characters and I think that in the context of the Regency that can sometimes be a difficult balance. The heroine of my current book, for example, needs to marry to save her reputation. She’s a very strong woman and she absolutely hates having to ask for help but she has to accept that within the mores of Regency society she cannot protect her young step-children on her own. So for me it’s giving a heroine a strength of character that feels true to her and also works in the context of the Regency setting as well.

      Beyond that, I would say

      1. Beyond that I would say oops! My cat walked on the keyboard just as I was about to say she should be able to laugh – at herself and the situations she finds herself in!

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