Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Welcome to Historical Author - Nicola Pryce

I’m delighted to welcome Nicola Pryce to my blog.

Nicola Pryce - Author

Hello Nicola – I’ve been looking forward to hosting you on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat, and I’m eager to discover some of your writing secrets. But before we discover more about your latest historical romance, The Cornish Lady, here are a few questions which will hopefully give your readers and followers an insight into some of the things that matter to you.

Arabella: Authors can release books, making them available to readers in various ways…via an agent, or working directly with a traditional publisher, or they can even go the self-publishing route. Which method of publishing do you prefer, and why?
Nicola: My writing journey has taken me down the agent and traditional publishing route. I know a number of very successful self-publishing authors who relish their independence and the control they have over their books, but I’m very happy with the route I’ve taken. I love being part of a team and I particularly enjoy the enthusiasm and encouragement of my agent and publishers because I’m not sure I would have had the courage to put my books forward without them.

Arabella: A slice of Chocolate Cake, a piece of Fruit, or Burger and Fries?
Nicola: Oh dear, I can’t even pretend with this. A lovely large slice of gluten-free chocolate cake please.

Arabella: Who or what inspired you to write your latest Georgian release, The Cornish Lady ?
Nicola: Usually a couple of triggers jump-start my books – something I research or see among the records sends a prickle down my spine as if I know the story is in there … but I need to make absolutely sure that it really could, or did, happen at the exact time and place I want it to happen.

With The Cornish Lady, the triggers were 1) I was fascinated to read that the Truro assembly rooms were actually a purpose-built theatre, 2) I found a photograph showing a trap door in the basement of the old Tudor kitchens of Pendennis Castle where French prisoners were kept in 1796, and 3) when I stepped out onto the terrace at Trelissick House and could see the castle in the distance, I knew the story was about a visitor staying at that grand country house. (These photos and the history behind my book are on my website )

But as for my heroine … I have very little control over any of them. My books are set on the south coast of Cornwall and have a dressmaking establishment at their centre. Each book is a stand-alone novel but if you read them in the right order, you’ll find the heroine of the next book always appears in the previous book. My heroine in The Cornish Lady, Angelica Lilly – a wealthy industrialist’s daughter – literally walked straight into The Cornish Dressmaker and I was completely stunned. It was honestly like, ‘Oh, Miss Lilly ... how lovely to meet you. Is it true your mother was a famous actress?’

Arabella: If the person of your dreams (husband/wife/partner/or Georgian beau) were to invite you out, where would they take you, and which vehicle would they use:
1) Phaeton
2) Landau
3) Curricle
4) Stage Coach

Nicola: Now, I know I should be dashing across Bodmin Moor with the wind in my hair: I should be giggling, wide-eyed and breathless with the sheer exuberance of being with the man I adore, but it’s cold up there, and wet, and the road will be bumpy and I’m sure we’d catch a rut and be left stranded in the freezing mist at the very top … with a broken axle and no sign of an AA man. So instead, I’m going to opt for the stage coach. I still choose my husband, and our destination has got to be Bodmin Moor but as I’m just this very day writing about Madelaine Pelligrew watching her fellow stage coach travellers from under the black lace on her bonnet, I think some first-hand experience would be beneficial.
But wait a minute … surely, the man opposite her is the divine Captain de la Croix, that charming French officer on parole? On second thoughts … may l leave my husband behind and take the stage coach on my own?

Stage Coach
Arabella: Which is your most favourite period drama or historical film you’ve seen to date, and why is it so special?
Nicola: I love all period drama, but the most special film has to be The Scarlet Pimpernel. I’m honestly not that old … but it has to be the early 1934 version starring Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon because that was the film which triggered everything I love about the late eighteenth century.
I went to a very strict boarding school and every Saturday we would gather in the hall and be shown ancient films, often with the reels in the wrong order! I remember being totally enraptured by the whole concept of honour and spies, and I so, so, so, wanted to be the beautiful and courageous Marguerite St Just.
I fell desperately in love with Sir Percy Blakeney and the damage was done. I just adored him … and Darcy, and Captain Wentworth, of course … but I have to say Sir Percy was my first love.

The Scarlet Pimpernel - 1934

If you could meet someone from the Georgian era, who would it be and what would you say to them?
Nicola: I would like to meet Fanny Burney who published her first novel, Evelina, anonymously in 1778, Cecilia in 1782 and Camilla at the time of my books, 1796. Her satire and wit were recognised at the time, and she was a major influence on Jane Austen, but although I’d love to talk to her about her writing and what it was like to be a woman living in the late eighteenth / early nineteenth century, I’d really like to tell how incredible I think she was to undergo a mastectomy with no anaesthetic. To be so courageous leaves me in absolute awe. Fortunately, her bravery brought about a complete cure.

Arabella: When writing a book or chapter, which do you concentrate on first: plot, character, or setting?
Nicola: For the first book in my series, I can definitely say it was the setting. I wrote my book for my children with no thought that it would be published. We’ve sailed in and out of Fowey for the last twenty five years and I wanted to write about a place we all knew and loved. It also had to be set in my favourite period of history – late eighteenth century – because it’s just so exciting. So much was going on in Cornwall at that time: Britain was at war and France could have invaded at any time; the defences were woefully inadequate, more ships were needed. Several ruined harvests brought grain shortages which caused food riots. There were dissenters, radicals, spies …

Once decided on the books’ setting and date, the driving force behind all my stories definitely comes from the central character. Who is she? What is she doing there? What jeopardy does she face? 

Then I wrap the history around the sort of person she is – her status in life, her aspirations and difficulties, and the plot takes off.

Arabella: How do you research your Georgian novels and characters?
Nicola: To get really authentic voices and to be absolutely present in the time and place of my story, I go to the Cornwall Records Office, now housed in Redruth, and read through whole piles of letters, bills, and printed papers. There’s nothing like seeing the record of the French prisoners’ burials in Falmouth, or read, first hand, how the food rioters were quelled – or what won first prize at the Cornwall County Show. Reading letters gives me a feel for the voices of my characters and often triggers a subplot which I weave into the story.

Of course, I’d be lost without the internet, and I do love and buy a lot of reference books, but one of my favourite methods of research is finding the exact house my characters would have lived in, and then I match them to portraits of people living in Cornwall at that time. That way, I can visualise what my characters wore and how long it took them to reach certain places.

Arabella: What advice would you give to someone who is starting out on their writing journey?
Nicola: There are many different writing paths you can choose to take – from informal writing groups to an Ma in creative writing. Do what suits you, but my advice is to believe you can do it and just get writing. I hadn’t written a word before I started Pengelly’s Daughter and was blown away when Teresa Chris took me on as an agent. Miracles do happen. Just write the story you want to write and be passionate about it. Take criticism and advice from people whose opinion you respect, and don’t listen to your inner doubter, nor those who may try to dissuade you from writing. It’s extremely difficult to justify hours spent at the keyboard when there are so many other claims to your time, but once you have a desire to write it becomes a need, like an itch that has to be scratched.  Do what you can, when you can … and have fun doing it.

Thank you for joining me on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat, Nicola. it was lovely to hear about your writing journey.
Wishing you all the best for your latest release, A Cornish Lady, and I hope your adventurous Stage Coach journey across Bodmin Moor proves inspirational – with or without your husband at your side. 😉  
Arabella Sheen

About Nicola Pryce

Nicola Pryce - Author

Nicola Pryce trained as a nurse at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London. She loves both literature and history and has an Open University degree in Humanities. She's a qualified adult literacy support volunteer and lives with her husband in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset. She and her husband love sailing and together they sail the south coast of Cornwall in search of adventure. If she's not writing or gardening, you'll find her scrubbing decks.

Pengelly's Daughter is her first novel, The Captain's Girl next, then The Cornish Dressmaker and The Cornish Lady. A Cornish Betrothal is to be published in November 2020.
Nicola is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association and The Historical Writers Association.

BOOK BLURB:   The Cornish Lady

 Educated, beautiful and the daughter of a prosperous merchant, Angelica Lilly has been invited to spend the summer in high society. Her father's wealth is opening doors, and attracting marriage proposals, but Angelica still feels like an imposter among the aristocrats of Cornwall.

When her brother returns home, ill and under the influence of a dangerous man, Angelica's loyalties are tested to the limit. Her one hope lies with coachman Henry Trevelyan, a softly spoken, educated man with kind eyes. But when Henry seemingly betrays Angelica, she has no one to turn to. Who is Henry, and what does he want? And can Angelica save her brother from a terrible plot that threatens to ruin her entire family?

Nicola's Website:

Amazon UK: 

Amazon US:

1 comment:

  1. Nicola - Thank you for taking part. You gave some wonderful answers that will, I'm sure, entertain and amuse your readers.
    Best wishes for your latest release, The Cornish Lady


Castell's Passion - Arabella Sheen - EXCERPT 2

Castell’s Passion Arabella Sheen A night in his arms, but it comes at a price. Will her heart survive? Billionaire Marc Castell , owner of t...