‘Where Stories Are Made‘ is a regular feature here at Book Chick City. It’s where an author takes us on a tour of their writing place, be it an office, coffee shop or park and tells us about their writing day in words and pictures.
My guest today is historical romance author, Nicola Cornick…
One Wicked Sin: Out Now
Mistress by Midnight: Out Now
Thank you, Book Chick City, for inviting me to drop by to tell you where my stories are made.
This is my study. Until last year “my room” actually doubled up as the kitchen. Then, at the beginning of last year, I got my own room. It’s beautiful and I love it. It’s now been colonised by the cat as well, but we all have to share sometimes.
Here are my bookshelves. When I put them in I thought there would be masses of space on them. But somehow my books have expanded to fit the shelves available. These are my research books, mainly for the Regency period, but some other historical non-fiction as well. I’ve had an absolute ball collecting my reference books and I add to them all the time. One of these days those shelves will go straight through the floor because they are groaning under the weight of so many books! Research is one of the things that I love about being a historical author. I grab a book from the shelves, intending to look up something specific, and I read some other fascinating snippet and off I go at a tangent… I get some of my best story ideas that way. I remember once I was researching shopping in the Regency period and I saw a reference to lottery tickets and that gave me an idea for an entire book! There is everything on these shelves from the history of beards to the history of belly dancing.
On the wall to the left of my desk is a framed poster of the cover of my first single title historical, Deceived. I did my first book signing at the RWA Conference in Atlanta a few years ago and they let me keep the poster as a souvenir. My husband had it framed for me to celebrate the publication of my first book for HQN. It’s enormous and one night it fell off the wall with a huge crash and almost squashed the cat who used up one of her nine lives. The poster is a wonderful reminder of how lucky and privileged I feel to be writing Regency historicals for HQN but it’s also a bit daunting. On those days when I sit at my laptop and absolutely no ideas come and every word feels as though it’s been weighted with lead I see the big book cover and think: “I’m an impostor!” A lot of people tell me that they feel like that about their jobs sometimes; those moments when we all question whether we really know what we are doing. The moments that you hope doctors and pilots don’t have. With writing the whole process seems so reliant on nothing more tangible than intuition and imagination sometimes. Jo Beverley recently called the writing process “alchemy” and there is something magical and mysterious about it. Sure, there is craft and skill and structure, lots of hard work and many other components, but in my experience writing is also taking risks and going with what feel right – oh, and a large dose of luck, of being in the right place at the right time with the right book.
On the other wall is a black and white photograph of the gardens at Ashdown House. Like a lot of people I wear two hats – I write and I also work for the National Trust for England and Wales, showing visitors around an historic house. Ashdown is another of my passions, a stunningly beautiful seventeenth century hunting lodge that provides me with a great deal of inspiration. Simply walking up the magnificent oak staircase makes me feel as though I have been transported back in time. On a more practical note, working at Ashdown also gets me out of the house and meeting real people. Being a writer is a wonderful job but I also find it quite a lonely one sometimes. Talking to people, listening to them, answering questions about Ashdown and simply getting out and about is another great way for me to find story ideas.
Finally there is the view from my window. Strictly speaking it’s not in my room but it is very inspiring as well as distracting (all those comings and goings in the street outside!) Concentration and self-discipline can be a big issue for me as a writer. But it’s also lovely to have the countryside on my doorstep. When I’m wrestling with my plot and can’t make any headway I’ll go out for a walk, hoping that exercise and fresh air will help. Usually I can walk off the writer’s block.
I hope you have enjoyed this peek into the place where my stories are made!