Monday 11 April 2022

An Interview with Nicola Cornick


By Marilyn Forsyth

At the end of last year I applied for, and was successful in gaining, a mentorship through The History Quill with international best-selling dual timeline author Nicola Cornick. I cannot praise both Nicola and The History Quill enough. I learned so much with the help of this lovely lady and, to cap it all off, she agreed to this interview.

Welcome to our blog, Nicola. We’re delighted to have you here. What is one ‘must have’ when you’re writing?  

A cup of tea, English Breakfast for preference, no matter the time of day.

Can't beat English Breakfast! What was your big break in publishing? 

My big break came when I had been writing for 12 years and the historical editor at Harlequin Mills and Boon sent me a page of revision suggestions for a manuscript that I’d sent in and encouraged me to resubmit it. That was True Colours, my first Regency romance.

Wow! 12 years! Persistence does pay off. What do you think are the key ingredients for a great historical novel? 

A great story to tell, an immersive historical world and characters who are authentic to their time but are dealing with timeless themes we can all relate to.

Which historical novelists do you like to read? 

Susanna Kearsley, Anna Campbell, Diana Norman and Daphne Du Maurier to name only a few of my favourites!

How lovely to see our own Anna Campbell there! And I love Susanna Kearsley, too. What is your favourite historical period to write about? 

It’s hard to choose but the seventeenth century in England just edges in as favourite. The Civil War period gave women more freedom and opportunity as well as creating enormous emotional conflict. It’s a fascinating period to write about.

What inspired the story of The Last Daughter

Link to buy (Aus)

I love exploring real life historical mysteries. The Last Daughter was inspired by the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower during the reign of Richard III. It’s a complicated time period that has interested me for years.

Such a beautiful cover! And the Princes in the Tower remains a fascinating mystery. Can you tell us more about the story? 

The Last Daughter is a dual time story set in the present and the 15th century. Serena Warren returns to the village of Minster Lovell in Oxfordshire to try to find out what happened when her sister Caitlin disappeared ten years before. In doing so she uncovers a family mystery that links her to the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower five hundred years before. The historical part of the book tells the story of Anne, wife of Francis Lovell, the closest ally of Richard III, who is drawn into a plan to protect the princes.

I am so looking forward to reading this! Who would you cast as your main characters? 

Jonathan Bailey from Bridgerton would make a brilliant Francis Lovell, and Catriona Balfe would be a perfect Anne.

Gorgeous pairing! I adore Catriona! What challenges did the book pose for you? 

Writing dual time books is always a challenge for me as I am a pantser by inclination and having to intertwine two time periods requires a lot of planning. The Last Daughter was also hard because it was written during the pandemic when I was finding it difficult to concentrate and was also dealing with family issues. I was also trying to fit a huge swathe of complex history into a comparatively short word count and I had to edit heavily.

I have absolutely no idea how a pantser can write dual timelines, and yet you do it so brilliantly. I greatly enjoyed The Phantom TreeWhat are you working on next?

Link to pre-order (Aus)

I’m currently revising my next book, The Winter Garden, which will be published in October. It’s another dual time book, set in the present and at the end of the Tudor era/beginning of the 17th century and it looks at the women behind the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. We hear a lot about Guy Fawkes and Robert Catesby, but what role did their female relatives play in the story and how did it impact on their lives? I enjoyed exploring that.

Ashdown House Oxfordshire.

Research is one of my favourite parts of writing about history. Any advice for aspiring/emerging historical fiction writers? 

For any writer, I’d always suggest writing about something you feel passionately about. Your love for your subject will shine out.

Excellent advice that I've tried to follow! 

Love to Love my family and friends for their generosity, kindness and support.

Love to Laugh at the antics of my 8-month-old puppy!

Love to Learn more about history all the time.

Thanks so much for joining us, Nicola! 

If you have a comment or a question for Nicola, she would love to hear from you!

BIO: Nicola Cornick is an international bestselling and award-winning novelist who has written over thirty historical mysteries and historical romances in a career spanning twenty years. Her books sell in over twenty-five countries, have been translated into many languages and been published in multiple formats including e-book, audio and manga. She currently writes dual time fiction for Harper Collins HQ. She is historian and guide at the National Trust 17th century Ashdown House in Oxfordshire.

 In her spare time Nicola is a guide dog puppy walker.

The gorgeous Baden, guide dog.





Link to buy The Last Daughter paperback:


  1. Hello Nicola, and thanks Marilyn for that wonderful interview! I've read several of your novellas, Nicola, and loved them. Do you have a favourite in the longer stories you've published? Your current one about the little princes sounds fascinating! Will that mystery ever be solved, I wonder.

    1. Hi Miranda and thank you so much, I am delighted you've enjoyed my novellas! I find it really hard to choose favourites either of my own or other authors' books. For mystery and timeslip, The Last Daughter is very close to my heart because I've been fascinated by the mystery of the Princes in the Tower for so long. Out of my earlier historical romances, I love Whisper of Scandal and the other Scandal Women of the Ton books.

    2. Oops! Scandalous women not scandal women!

    3. Malvina, I really enjoyed Nicola's The Phantom Tree.

    4. Thanks Nicola and Marilyn! And yes, I understand nominating your favourite book is like picking a 'favourite child' or something equally impossible!

  2. Hi Nicola. I discovered you when I picked up The Phantom Tree. And a great read it was! Thank you. For me, too, the 17th Century in Britain is the one that draws my interest the most. Not so much for the freedom and opportunities that the Civil Wars gave women, but because there was a great deal of injustice to women then in the form of the Witch hunts. Example, Matthew Hopkins, Witchfinder General. So many women persecuted because the Church at the time could not abide anything Pagan such as healing herbs, and decided those women were witches. Injustice also that women were treated as far beneath men and gave permission to abuse. A very harsh time for women then. That you focus on women in The Winter Garden has me very drawn to that book. Looking forward to reading it.

    1. Thank you so much, Enisa. I am so happy you enjoyed The Phantom Tree. The response to that book blew me away! Yes, the injustices and inequalities experienced by women through history has a lot of resonance, doesn't it. I find it fascinating that women's history rises and falls in that sense - there is no steady improvement in women's rights but a whole roller coaster of experiences. The women who get relegated to the footnotes of history so often have a story to tell, which was what drew me to the Gunpowder Plot idea too. I do hope you enjoy it, and thank you!

  3. Hi Nicola and Marilyn. Nicola, thank you for the insights into your writing. I am intrigued by the premise behind "The Winter Garden". I'm keen to read it when it is published.

    1. Hi Sharon! It's a pleasure to be invited to the blog! Thank you, and I very much hope that you enjoy The Winter Garden.

  4. Thank you so much for inviting me to the blog today, Marilyn. It's a real pleasure to be here! It's early morning UK time and I'll be popping back again soon to chat!

    1. It was my pleasure, Nicola! Thank you so much for being here.

  5. Nicola, I have another question. Is there a short answer to why The Last Daughter is also called The Last Daughter of York in some titles?

    1. Hi Marilyn! It's currently The Last Daughter in the UK and The Lat Daughter of York in NA. I'm not sure what other markets will choose! it came about because the US give the books a more historical slant and so thought that title worked better. Occasionally I've had a title that's different in the US and the UK for marketing reasons. Hopefully it won't confuse people too much!

    2. Aah, that makes sense. Same as different covers for different markets.

  6. Hi Nicola thank you for being our guest on the blog. I have a question. What made you change from writing Regency Romance to now Time Slip?

    1. Hi Cassandra and thank you for the question. I loved writing Regency and still love reading it. Maybe I'll write more in future! But I had a timeslip idea I was so desperate to write so it just had to be done!

  7. Thanks Nicola. Wonderful to have you as a guest on the blog! How exciting for you, Marilyn, to have Nicola's mentorship.

    1. Thanks Alyssa! Working with Nicola was the highlight to my year. She is an amazing mentor, very knowledgeable and giving, and I learned such a lot.

    2. Thank you very much, Alyssa. It's been wonderful to visit. And thank you, Marilyn, for your kind words. I have to say it was a delight to work with you too. I enjoyed it immensely!


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