Today we have Nicola Cornick on our blog. Nicola, can you tell us what was the inspiration behind your book? Can you tell us a little about it?
I’m obsessed with real life historical mysteries and I’m also fascinated by women from the footnotes of history whose stories either haven’t been told or are only seen through a male perspective. The two things came together in The Last Daughter which is about the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower in 1483, as seen through the eyes of Anne Lovell, the wife of king Richard III’s best friend. Parallel to that is a contemporary story also dealing with disappearances. I love writing dual-time books but they are very complicated!
How long did the book take to write? How much re-writing do you do?
Usually, my books take about a year to research and write. I tend to research generally around a period of history first, then start writing, researching specific points as I go along. However, with The Last Daughter, everything went wrong! Writing it coincided with the start of the pandemic and then both my parents became ill… The first version I put in to my editor needed to be completely re-written and it was so difficult. I got there eventually with a lot of help from the team at HQ stories but it was without a doubt the hardest book I have ever written.
Where did your research for the book take you?
Researching the book was definitely the best bit as I went on a tour of various northern castles – Richmond, Ravensworth, Barnard Castle and Middleham, to visit all the places where the story was set and get a feel for the atmosphere. This was where I grew up so it was wonderful to re-visit the places I loved a child. It reminded me of why I loved history so much and wanted to write about it in the first place.
When did you realise you wanted to be an author?
I wrote from an early age and loved writing but I don’t think I put two and two together and realised I wanted to be an author until quite late on. Even when I started to write the book that was to become my first Mills & Boon historical romance, I think I was still viewing it as something I did for fun rather than with the aim of publication. That all changed when I finally finished it and suddenly became determined to be published!
What was your journey to publication?
I finished the first draft of True Colours when I was about 21 and sent it in to Mills & Boon who had it for about a year before rejecting it. After that I wrote about five different versions of it in my spare time, which took about 10 years! Then I re-submitted it again and they rejected it again but this time with a lot of constructive advice. I was fairly clueless about writing and publishing – I wish I had known about the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme – but on my third attempt the manuscript was accepted and published the following year. So all in all it took me about 12 years to become a published author. The way I tackled it, writing and re-wiring the same story, is very much against the advice I’d probably give to an aspiring author to set a manuscript aside for a while and try working on something fresh and new! However, it worked for me so what can I say?
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
In addition to the above, I would say you need to be determined and keep going. Believe in yourself. Writing is one of those things where you have to rely on self-motivation a great deal and this can be hard particularly if you’re stuck or you’ve just had a rejection letter. Also writers supporting other writers is so important, which is why it’s great to belong to an organisation such as the RNA!
Nicola Cornick is an international bestselling and award-winning writer who has written over thirty romantic historical novels in a career spanning twenty years.
Nicola studied History at the University of London and at Ruskin College Oxford and worked in academia for a number of years before becoming a full-time author. She volunteers as a guide and researcher for the National Trust at the 17th century Ashdown House and is a trustee of the |Friends of Lydiard Park and the Wantage Literary Festival. A former chair of the Romantic Novelists Association, Nicola enjoys giving talks on a number of historical and writing topics.
In her spare time, Nicola raises guide dog puppies.
When the body of Serena’s sister Caitlin is discovered, eleven years after she went missing, Serena returns to her grandfather’s house, nestled beside the ruins of Minster Lovell Hall in Oxfordshire, determined to uncover the truth. But in returning to the place of her childhood summers, Serena stands poised at the brink of a startling discovery – one that will tie her family to a centuries-old secret, and an enthralling historical mystery: that of the Princes in the Tower.
About the interviewer.
Catherine Lawless lives in Hertfordshire with her husband, daughter and their three border terriers. She writes novels, journals and children’s books. Catherine’s career started out as a singer/songwriter in a rock band. She toured extensively throughout Europe and the UK before settling down and following her childhood dream of writing books.