Well, it’s a new month and, for me, September always feels like the beginning of a new, fresh period of excitement, with blank slates for everyone – throw back to school days I suppose. So, for my first guest of the new ‘term,’ I’m delighted to welcome to the blog for drinks and chat, wonderful author… Nicola Cornick.
Welcome, Nicola and thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?
My current favourite is an English Garden cocktail, which is gin, elderflower, apple juice and lime. It feels appropriate as I live in a cottage in the middle of the country – although my garden is more like a jungle at the moment!
If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
We’d go to my local pub, which is a 10 minute walk, and sit outside by the fire pit with a great view of the stars and equally great food! It’s very relaxed.
If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
It’s difficult to narrow it down to only two, isn’t it. I’d like to invite Barack Obama because I dreamed once that I had met him and we had the most fascinating conversation. I was really disappointed to discover it wasn’t true! So I’d like to try to recreate that for real. I’d also invite Jane Austen along too. That would be fun!
So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
At the moment I’m doing a series of talks and events at bookshops and literary festivals about my latest novel The Last Daughter. It’s a dual-time mystery set in the Wars of the Roses and the present day, taking in the big historical mystery of what happened to The Princes in the Tower and featuring that most fascinating historical monarch, King Richard III. In my talks I discuss the real historical background to my books and chat about all things history and writing. It’s wonderful to be out and about again, meeting readers and history fans in person! This month I’ll be at the Kenilworth Festival of Arts on 12th September and the Burford Literary Festival on the 27th.
I wish I could attend one of your events, I am obsessed with the Wars of the Roses! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing/blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?
I’ve been writing for a long time – over twenty years – and have experienced some wonderful highs such as when one of my books was featured on a huge billboard in Times Square in New York. That was awesome, as were the times I’ve been shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association awards and other prizes. My proudest moments though are when readers tell me how much they have enjoyed my books. Nothing beats that sensation and even after twenty years it still gives me joy. With such a long career I’ve also had my share of challenges. One of the things I find the most difficult is those periods when for whatever reason you need to dig deep to find the motivation to carry on. Writing can be lonely that way and it’s at times like that I’ve really appreciated the support of my writing colleagues and friends.
What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!
I’d like to write a big, sweeping historical fiction novel and see it hit the bestseller chart!
What have you got planned that you are really excited about?
I’m currently writing a book set in the years leading up to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. It explores the plotters’ background from the perspective of their female relatives and I’m really enjoying looking beyond all the men to discover the women’s stories.
I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
Oooh, I love travelling too! I’d love to hear more of your bucket list. A couple of years ago we took a trip to Alaska and the western coast of Canada. A lot of the trip was on the ferries that serve all the little islands and towns along the route. That was exciting, even more so when there was a ferry strike and we were stuck in the middle of the wilderness for 5 days! For my next trip, I’d love to go to Greenland and the Faroe Islands. I have ancestors from there and I think they must have been a lot tougher than I am!
Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.
My mother was a Languages teacher and would insist on speaking French at breakfast to us every day when I was a child. I didn’t appreciate it much at the time but it meant that I was fluent in French by the time I was in my teens and can still speak and understand it reasonably well now.
Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
I’m a huge fan of Sarah Morgan and her book The Summer Seekers is one of my all time favourites, a real must-read. I love the way she is able to go right to the heart of an emotional dilemma and the way she draws out the relationships between the generations and the tensions within families that are so real and familiar. I also love that her books have happy or hopeful endings and always contain some hot romance as well! Happy, wise stories!
Kathleen is eighty years old. After a run-in with an intruder, her daughter wants her to move into a residential home. She’s not having any of it. What she craves – needs – is adventure.
Liza is drowning under the daily stress of family life. The last thing she needs is her mother jetting off on a wild holiday, making Liza dream of a solo break of her own.
Martha is having a quarter-life crisis. Unemployed, unloved and uninspired, she just can’t get her life together. But she knows something has to change.
When Martha sees Kathleen’s advert for a driver and companion to take an epic road trip across America, she decides this job might be the answer to her prayers. Travelling with a stranger? No problem. She’s not the world’s best driver, but it couldn’t be worse than living with her parents again. And anyway, how much trouble can one eighty-year-old woman be?
As these women embark on the journey of a lifetime, they all discover it’s never too late for adventure…
Shamefully, this is languishing on my TBR! So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
I’ll do my best to avoid that but if the hangover is going to strike, lots of water before I go to bed and a cooked breakfast in the morning followed by a walk in the fresh air.
After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
It has been fabulous – thank you so much! For me a perfect weekend is a modest lie-in, a cup of tea in bed, breakfast at a little local cafe followed by a dog walk and a visit to a historical house or some other interesting history site. Then back home for a delicious meal and an evening relaxing with a good book!
The pleasure has been all mine, I can assure you and I think I may dash off and buy a ticket to your talk at Kenilworth next weekend! Thank you so much for chatting to me tonight.
Nicola’s latest book, The Last Daughter, is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.
A secret hidden in the past.
A family bound by a dark legacy…
Ever since her sister disappeared eleven years ago, Serena Warren has been running from a ghost, haunted by what she can’t remember about that night.
When Caitlin’s body is discovered, 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…
International bestselling author Nicola Cornick is a writer and a historian. After gaining a BA in History from the University of London she worked in academia for a number of years before returning to university as a mature student at Ruskin College, Oxford. Her specialism is Public History and she gained a Masters with Distinction for her work on heroes and hero myths. She is a trustee of the Friends of Lydiard Park, an 18th century stately home in Wiltshire, and she researches the history of the Craven Family and Ashdown House for the National Trust.
Nicola’s most recent books are dual time mysteries that combine an historical and a contemporary thread. The first of these, House of Shadows, was based on the research she has done into Elizabeth of Bohemia, the Winter Queen. Her new novel, The Last Daughter, is inspired by the 15th century mystery of the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower and was described by Alison Weir as: ‘An engaging, beautifully crafted romance that weaves together several intriguing mysteries, both ancient and modern, and questions the very essence of time itself.’
Nicola is a trustee of the Wantage Literary Festival and in her spare time, a puppy raiser for the Guide Dogs charity.