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