|Nicola (left) and Amanda (right)|
Today SOS Aloha hosts historical romance authors Nicola Cornick
, Amanda McCabe
and Laurel McKee
. Actually, Amanda
are one in the same. Help yourself to a cup of tea and enjoy our intimate chat ....
Kim: You both write for Harlequin on opposite sides of the pond. What was the path you took to become a published author?
Nicola: I started writing romance when I was about 18 and over the years sent in several manuscripts to Harlequin Mills & Boon. I loved their historical imprint and couldn’t get enough of the books so I thought I would try writing one of my own. They rejected me three times, though, saying that there was too much adventure in my stories and not enough romance. I was determined to keep trying and eventually after 12 years they accepted True Colours, my first book.
Amanda/Laurel: I started like almost all authors do, as a reader! I started young, when I found a box full of romance novels hidden in my grandmother's closet when I was 10. They were mostly old Barbara Cartlands, some Heyer and other Regencies, some Victoria Holt, and some old Harlequins with falling-apart covers. I spent the summer sitting on the closet floor reading book after book, and I was totally hooked! I also started writing when I was around the same age, little fairy-tales I would make into books. It wasn't until I was in college and looking for a way to escape the stress of finals that I tried to write my own romance novel...
: You both wrote in your bios that you have "menagerie of cats and dogs". Do you incorporate pets into your stories?
: Yes, we’re both pet-lovers! I like to include pets in my books sometimes. Whisper of Scandal, the first in my current trilogy, features the most adorable Dandie Dinmont terrier called Max. He was based on my aunt’s pet dog, Becky, who sadly passed away a month ago. I like to think of Max’s character as a little tribute to Becky. She was a feisty little creature full of spirit and fun!
Amanda/Laurel: LOL! I think the pets would like it if I had pets in every story. I do sometimes write them into plots. In my novella in The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor (Charlotte and the Wicked Lord) Charlotte has two Pugs, Oliver and Octavia, based on my own Pug Victoria. I had so much fun with that!
: Nicola wrote, "Genealogy is one of her passions and she has traced her family tree back to the sixteenth century by way of various poets, pirates and a link to the Earldom of Halifax." Could you share an ancestor's poem? Or a great uncle's seafaring adventures? Do any of your ancestors appear in your books, even if by a different name?
: I don’t have any of my grandfather’s poems, sadly. He was a very private person and destroyed a lot of his writing but I like to think that I inherited his love of writing even though I am hopeless at poetry and admire hugely anyone who can write it. My husband’s family is the one with the pirates; two Cornick ancestors were pirates in the 18th century and were captured, tried and sent to Australia. Their Cornick descendants live there still. I think I am very lucky to have been able to research such a fascinating family tree. I recently learned that on my father’s side I am descended from Princess Nest of Wales. That thrilled me!
Kim: Amanda, any interesting characters in your family tree? Do you use your family (or friends) to inspire characters in your books?
: I guess I do in that I like to watch and listen to people, and that helps me envision my own characters and write their dialogue in what I hope is a believable way. There's a family legend that an ancestor escaped from Ireland after the 1798 Uprising and made his way from Canada to the US, but I haven't been able to find confirmation of that! I definitely use stories I heard growing up about Ireland.
: Nicola has "lived" and studied history in England. Do you still research for your books?
Nicola: All the time! Historical research is one of my favourite things. I love turning up little snippets of information and historical facts that inspire my writing.
Kim: According to Amanda's bio, she wrote her first book during algebra class. Hmmm .... how do you conduct your research for your UK set books when you live in America?
: I'm a research book-buying addict! I can't stop, even as my house fills with tottering piles of books. I especially buy books about history, particularly the UK and France. Researching aspects of history for my novels is one of my favorite things. (My next Harlequin Historical is set at the court of Mary Queen of Scots, so I'm deep into that era right now!). I also like to travel whenever possible and gather inspiration.
: Nicola volunteers at the Ashdown House with the National Trust
. Tell us about it.
: I work as a guide and a historian, showing visitors around the 17th century house and telling them something of its history. It’s an awe-inspiring place to work, so beautiful and rich in history. We learn a lot from our visitors as well; they are often experts in art or architecture, fashion or jewellery. A lady came to visit a few months ago who was a lace-maker and was able to tell us all about the lace collars and sleeves in the portraits. It’s fascinating.
: Amanda, what is your favorite place in England?
: That is such a hard question! I've loved everyplace I've been. One place I enjoy a lot is Bath, it just "feels" so very Regency! As Nicola knows, because she shares my Anne Boleyn fan-dom, I also love everyplace associated with the Tudors. And I could live in the British Museum!
|Anne Boleyn's childhood home - Hever Castle|
: Nicola is a Word Wench
and Amanda is a Risky Regency
. I read them both every morning! How did you become a member of these group blogs?
: I’m so pleased you enjoy them, Kim! It was the lovely Anne Gracie who invited me to join the Word Wenches. I was hugely flattered and not a little in awe because I knew that alongside Risky Regencies, Word Wenches was one of the most influential history and writing blogs around. The other Wenches welcomed me with their characteristic charm and I absolutely love being a part of the blog. We’re all history nerds and it’s always fun to chat with like-minded people!
: I can't even remember for sure! A few years ago at an RWA conference, I was having margaritas in the hotel bar with Megan Frampton
and Elena Greene
, two of the other founding Riskies
. We then went to eat mashed potatoes (as you do after drinking margaritas!) and decided we needed a forum to share our love of history and books and crazy things like fashion and good-looking actors. Voila, a blog! It's been a wonderful journey.
: Tell us about your current series and upcoming books.
Nicola: The Scandalous Women of the Ton is a six part series featuring heroines who break societies rules in various ways. Joanna, the heroine of Whisper of Scandal, outrages the ton when she decides to travel to far-flung places. In One Wicked Sin, Lottie is cast out because of her scandalous love life and in the new book, Mistress by Midnight, Merryn actually works for a living, something that was considered beyond the pale! I wanted to show the many and different ways that women could be scandalous in the Regency period – and that it takes a very special hero to match such feisty heroines.
Amanda/Laurel: The Daughters of Erin is my debut series as Laurel McKee! It's about the 3 Blacknall sisters of Dublin and their hunky heroes, set around the tumultuous history of Ireland. And Duchess of Sin is book two, Anna's story as she finds her dangerous, dark Irish duke (and gets into a lot of mischief in the bargain!). I had so much fun with this story, as it's set at Christmas. And nothing is more fun than an Irish Christmas!
Kim: What's next for Nicola, Amanda, and Laurel?
: I’m currently working on book 4 in the Scandalous Women of the Ton series. It’s out in August 2011, it’s called Notorious and it features a heroine who breaks hearts for a living!
: Book 3, Lady of Seduction
, will be out in June 2011! It's the bluestocking Caroline's story, and I loved her so much. We also meet her hero on Duchess of Sin
, though he's not very heroic in that story (I always love a villain-into-hero tale). And Amanda's next book is out in March 2011, The Shy Duchess
(duchesses are everywhere lately!) For more information, excerpts, and a fun contest, you can visit my website at http://www.laurelmckee.net/
also have Christmas anthologies available! For more information, including excerpts, check out Nicola's website
and Amanda's website
Mahalo, Nicola and Amanda/Laurel, for joining us in virtual Hawaii. In honor of their visit, let's give some books away! Mary Gramlich, the Reading Reviewer, is offering her review copies of:
- Laurel McKee's COUNTESS OF SCANDAL and DUCHESS OF SIN.
- Nicola Cornick's MISTRESS BY MIDNIGHT.
posted reviews of Nicola's and Laurel's books on her website
To enter the book giveaway,
1. Leave a comment about Nicola
, and your favorite historical place in England.
2. Make sure I know how to contact you - send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org
3. The giveaway is open only to US and Canadian readers. Comments are open through December 9 for the book giveaway.
Kim in Hawaii
Like Amanda, it is hard to identify one favorite place in England. Both the National Trust
and English Heritage
offer a wide range of historical sites, including stone circles, restored manors, and distinguished gardens. But you know I'm a sucker for crumbling castles, so my all time favorite is ....
... Tintagel Castle
hugging the Cornish coast. Actually, its two parts on separate cliffs with many steps connecting them. It is called "King Arthur's Castle" and it even has "Merlin's steps" leading down to a seaside cave. Check it out for yourself at English Heritage
|Tintagel Castle |