Writing is a great job in that it allows me to connect with other writers all across the world. I’ve showcased some fabulous authors from the UK, most of which write historical fiction. All are superbly written, and all are impeccably researched. Today I am so excited to host Nicola Cornick, who writes gorgeous prose. Stop by Nicola’s website and introduce yourself. She loves hearing from readers. www.nicolacornick.co.uk
USA Today bestselling author Nicola Cornick writes witty and passionate historical romances for Harlequin HQN books and MIRA UK.
Nicola’s writing is inspired by her love of history and was fostered by a wonderful history teacher and by her grandmother, whose collection of historical romantic fiction fed Nicola’s addiction from an early age. She studied in London and Oxford and works as a guide and historian in a 17th century house as well as acting as a historical adviser for TV and radio. Publisher’s Weekly have described her as a rising star and her books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award and for the Romance Writers of America RITA Awards.
Nicola lives near Oxford with her husband and dog. When she isn’t writing she enjoys long walks in the countryside, singing in a choir and volunteering as a puppy walker for Guide Dogs.
What is your favorite childhood book? Did this book influence the way you write today? Do you have tattered copy of it on your bookshelf?
I was an avid reader as a child and it’s very difficult to choose a favorite book from that time. So many of them are still on my keeper shelf, both because they are great books but also because I have such a strong emotional attachment to them. The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff is one of my favorites. It had everything that I still enjoy in my reading and writing today: great characters, adventure, romance, history, mystery and a spot of fantasy.
How old were you when you decided to become a writer? Discuss your path to publication.
I don’t think I ever made a conscious decision to be a writer. Out of the constant reading grew an interest in writing. English Literature and English Language were two of my favorite classes at school. I believe I had a tendency to try and fit as many descriptive words into my essays as I could! My teacher was always telling me to write more sparingly, which was good advice.
I wrote my first historical romance when I was 18 and sent it to Mills & Boon who rejected it. Over the next 12 years I re-wrote it 3 times until they finally accepted it. I was very determined; once I started to get positive feedback and realized there was a chance I might be published I couldn’t stop until I had achieved it.
What genre do you write in and why?
I’ve written a lot of historical romance, which I adored, but a few years ago I changed genres to write multi-time period novels. They are hard to categorize really: Some have timeslip, all have a touch of the paranormal plus history and mystery.
Tell us about your most recent book. Where is it set — both location and time? What draws you to this area and/or time?
My most recent book is The Phantom Tree. It’s set in the Tudor era at Wolf Hall, the famous home of the Seymour family in Savernake Forest. I’m fortunate enough to live near Savernake and I love writing about local history. It’s so rich in stories and folklore. Prior to that I wrote House of Shadows, which is set in the seventeenth century. Those two centuries are probably my favorites in British history as they were so turbulent and peopled by such vivid historical characters.
How much time do you spend researching?
A lot! I’m a historian by training and so I love my research, often getting distracted by it and spending far too much time exploring different threads. However, I tell myself that’s okay because so often the research will throw up new and fascinating story ideas. Plus it gives a strong, authentic framework to a book; you need to know a lot of background to create the historical world, even if it isn’t all on show in the story.
Tell us about your process? Are you a pantser or a plotter?
I am a total pantser. I find planning very difficult. I start with with an idea of a place, or a character or a story thread and then I start writing and see where it takes me. In some ways it’s wonderful. I love following my writing instinct and discovering what happens next. In other ways it’s very frustrating because sometimes it doesn’t work and I go down the wrong path and have to retrace my steps, scrap scenes, re-order my writing or whatever. It’s also a problem when it comes to writing a synopsis for my editor because I’m never sure at the beginning where the story will go so any outline is rather notional. Luckily she’s used to that now!
Any advice for new writers?
Believe in yourself and your writing.