Thursday, June 26, 2008

Guest Blogger - Nicola Cornick

I'm so excited to welcome Nicola Cornick to the blog today! I recently went on a historical kick and discovered Nicola. And simply fell in love with the stories and rich characters she creates. Please show her a warm Playground welcome!

I’m so thrilled to have been invited to blog at the Writing Playground! I thought I’d talk about hot historical heroes today for no better reason than that I like them, and one type of historical hero in particular – the rake. I love writing rake characters. Perhaps the clue is in my book titles – The Last Rake in London, the Rake’s Mistress, the Rake’s Bride… I hope you share my preferences!

This week a news item caught my eye. It was everywhere in the British Press: “Bad Boys Tend To Get The Girls.” Well, duh. We romance writers could have told them about the appeal of the bad boy hero. Apparently a researcher at a US university has identified a “dark triad” of qualities that make a man irresistibly attractive to women. These are epitomised by the character of James Bond and are: “the self-obsession of narcissism, the impulsive, thrill-seeking and callous behaviour of the psychopath and the deceitful and exploitative nature of Machiavellianism.”

Doesn’t sound very attractive when put like that, does it? But if we’re talking arrogance, supreme self-confidence and an edge of danger, well, then I’m there. In fiction at least!

For me the historical bad boy is epitomised by Richard Sharpe when he kicks the heroine’s bedroom door down in order to kiss her and then stands there saying: “Begging your pardon, ma’am, but the door was locked.” Or Charles Brandon in The Tudors when he interrupts his card game to seduce the King’s sister and puts the cards down with the words: “Pity. I had a winning hand…” Now that’s where I get my inspiration!

This month I have a book out that features Jack Kestrel, the bad boy last rake in London of the title. Jack is drop dead gorgeous, a self-made man who sees what he wants and goes after it. But in the heroine Sally Bowes he has met his match because Sally is the one who is going to redeem this rake through the transforming effect of her love for him. And it is the power of love that will always tame the rake.

For more hot historical heroes and the women who tame them visit

So who is your favourite bad boy hero? I’m giving away a copy of The Last Rake in London and my new Regency historical Unmasked and I’ll ask the Instigator to choose a winner from amongst those commenting. Thank you for inviting me to visit the Playground!

Thanks, Nicola, for sharing the sandbox with us today! And trust me when I say, you'll love anything that Nicola writes. I've just finished The Last Rake in London (available now) and thoroughly enjoyed it. And I'll be first in line on July 1st to snap up Unmasked.


Anna Campbell said...

Thank you so much for having Nicola on as your guest. She's an autobuy for me! I read The Last Rake in London about a week ago and I'm still in a daze about how gorgeous Jack Kestrel is! Seriously hot stuff! And it was so much fun having a book set in the Edwardian period. Don't get me wrong - I love Regency books but a change every so often is like a holiday.

Nicola, can you give us some idea of your working day? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Bad boy heroes (yum to Daniel Craig, by the way!)? Too many to mention. A couple that spring to mind are Heathcliff and Nicholas Blackthorn from A Rose at Midnight by Anne Stuart, an oldie but a goodie.

Nicola, what's coming up next after Unmasked (which is yelling to me from the TBR pile as we speak)?

Nicola Cornick said...

Hi Anna and thank you for coming out to play! I'm so pleased that you enjoyed Last Rake. Even though I love my Regencies it was a nice change for me too writing the Edwardian book.

My working day - well, I wish I was more of a plotter but I am a total pantser really, especially when I start a book. I usually have a general idea of where I'm going (it does help!) but not a lot of detail. This is such a headache when I am trying to write outlines and long synopses but I find that if I try to put too much detail in early on it sometimes kills the ideas for me. Other people I know are fabulous plotters and have it all mapped out and sometimes I wish I could be more like that but I think it's one of those cases of whatever works for you is ok.

Thanks for asking about my next books. The sequel to Unmasked is called The Confessions of a Duchess and is out next year. It's the first in a three book series.

In the meantime I have a first person Regency out next spring (it's set in Scotland - hopefully you'll like that, Anna!) It's inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's classic book, Kidnapped, and was a load of fun to write!

Instigator said...

Welcome, Nicola! I'm sorry about the messy blog formatting (I think it's taken care of now). I promise it didn't look like that when I put it together last night. Sigh. Me and technology don't mix :-)

I'm glad to hear you are a panster like me. Although, I sometimes find that being forced to write everything down in the syn keeps me on track with the story. I have a tendency to ramble (no!) and go off course.

I'm with Anna, I enjoyed going to a different time with The Last Rake. What was the most difficult part of writing in a different time period?


Barbara Vey said...

I've always loved Calder Hart from the Francesca Cahill series by Brenda Joyce. I was saddened to hear that she won't be continuing the series and there are so many unanswered questioned.

There's tons more bad boys, but too little space to write them all. Just keep them coming!

Nicola Cornick said...

LOL Barbara! Very true - so many bad boys, so little time!

Hiya, Instigator! I think you're right and that sometimes the discipline of having to write things down clearly for an outline is a very good way of keeping it all under control. Trouble is, I usually write the synopsis and then find the characters going off at a tangent all their own. I guess I'm not alone in that!

The most difficult thing about writing the Edwardian book was the fact that I hadn't studied the period since High School and so had to do some intensive research in ultra quick time. It took me a while to get a feel for the period. I am much more at home with Regencies and so can slip into the story more quickly. With the Edwardian set book I found some of the dialogue was coming out with a Regency tone because I hadn't quite worked out how it should sound. That said, I did find strong comparisons between the Regency and Edwardian periods with all that glamour and extravagant living!

Angel said...

Welcome, Nicola! Its so good to have you here on the Playground.

Hmmm.... Bad boys. Hunks are one of our favorite subjects around here, you know. I'd have to say Wrath, from the first JR Ward Brotherhood book. Gray Rouillard from Linda Howard's After the Night and Webb from Shades of Twilight. Two men who hold family honor very high and aren't afraid to be ruthless to protect it. The Fallen Angels from Mary Jo Putney's historicals.

I'm so envious of you pansters! Many times I wish I wasn't such a plotter, then maybe my process would be much quicker. Oh well, as you said, you have to go with what works for you.

Could you tell us a little about your journey to publication?


Problem Child said...

I'll jump on the love Jack Kestrel wagon!

I love historicls--always have. But I have to admit an Edwardian caught me off-guard--I wasn't expecting it. But how cool! Loved it!

Playground Monitor said...

Welcome to the Playground! I'll be the first to admit I don't read many historicals, but the ones I've read I've enjoyed. Guess it was the bad boys, huh? Funny you should mention James Bond because I've been in love with him since I was thirteen years old and saw Goldfinger. I had my doubts about Daniel Craig in the role, but after watching "Casino Royale" my doubts were put to rest. He rocked!


Nicola Cornick said...

Hi Angel! Funny isn't it how you envy the pantsers and I really want to be a plotter because I feel so disorganised!

Like you I LOVE the Fallen Angels! I love that sort of hero who can be ruthless to protect. The hero of Unmasked, Nick Falconer, is an honourable man who sets out to unmask the heroine and ends up desperately wanting to protect her.

You were asking about my journey to publication and I have to say it was quite a long one. I first sent in a Regency to Harlequin when I was about twenty one and they bounced it back to me telling me it had too much adventure and not enough romance. Hmm. Now I come to think about it there was a highwayman hero so I was already following my bad boys obsession!

It took me another ten years and another two rejections before I was finally published. I could only find time to write every so often because of life - you know how it can get in the way! Most of the authors I know took a number of years and quite a few attempts to get there. Determination is something you definitely need!

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Hi, Nicola! This book sounds like something I would love! Time to add to the towering TBR pile. :)

Oooh, bad boys I love: Zsadist from JR Ward's Lover Awakened. I don't think it's possible to be any more tortured or outwardly rotten than that.

Anna's Kylemore. Oh my.

SEP's Bobby Tom Denton (okay, so he's not technically a true bad boy, but wowsa).

Harlequin Presents heroes. :)

Anne Stuart's James Killoran (To Love a Dark Lord).

Laura Kinsale's Duke of Jervaulx. And Sheridan Drake.

Okay, so my brain is failing me with names this morning. Need more coffee!

Nicola Cornick said...

Thanks so much, problem child (love these names!) I'm thrilled you liked The Last Rake in London! I wish there were more Edwardian set historicals. I think it's a really rich background for a historical romance.

Thanks for the welcome, playground monitor! I'm so pleased to find another Daniel Craig fan. I thought he was fabulous in Casino Royale and also very sexy in the film Layer Cake. In fact let's be honest, he's pretty cool in everything which is why I just had to get that picture of him in somewhere!

Nicola Cornick said...

Totally with you on Anna's Kylemore, Lynn Rae! And Sebastian in Lisa Kleypas's The Devil in Winter is another one... Sigh!

CrystalGB said...

Hi Nicola. Love the cover of your book. I love bad boys. Lisa Kleypas' Lord St. Vincent comes to mind when I think of a bad boy.

Smarty Pants said...

Welcome Nicola. I love bad boys, but I just can't write them. My heroes always end up with a smart @ss streak that makes them ornery, but not necessarily bad. I guess that's because I'm writing them.

What do you think makes up a good bad boy?

Sherry W. said...

Hi Nicola! I too love a notorious rake! And Sebastian (Devil in Winter) is one of the best. Blackstone from Kathryn Caskie's How to Seduce a Duke isn't to shabby either. It also looks like I will be adding one more to the list as soon as I read The Last Rake in London!

Pantser or Plotter.. LOL, I'm still trying to figure it out. I'm new to all this so I'll just have to figure out what works for me. It's beginning to look like a little of both. I need the plotting for a starting point but also the pantser for creativity.

I'm having a little trouble focusing on my heroine. Oh the hero is a done deal. But she just won't visualize for me or connect with a name. Do you picture them in your mind or need a visual to connect with them? The poor girl has changed names, hair color etc. and it's impossible to move forward with the story until then. It is driving me crazy! : )

Your website looks very interesting so I'm going back to read more and I'll be joining you on MySpace!

Nicola Cornick said...

Hi Crystal! Thank you - I think the cover for Unmasked is gorgeous and I also love the video they have made for the book!

Smarty Pants - great question - what makes a good bad boy? There's something a bit edgy about him, maybe that arrogance and confidence... Actually I'd love to know what everyone else thinks about this!

Hi Sherry! I'm sorry to hear about your problems connecting with your heroine. Isn't it strange when that happens sometimes - and it has happened to me so I know how frustrating it can be. I'd be interested to know how other people get around this problem. I tend to find the only way I can pin a character down when that happens is to interrogate them with a whole pile of questions until I finally start to get a picture of them. Usually I do "see" my characters in my head but often with the heroes (LOL) I need an actual picture as well. So for The Last Rake in London, for example I was visualising Clive Owen. A lot!

Maureen said...

Hi Nicola,
I always think of Clark Gable's Rhett Butler when I think of those type of heroes.

Nicola Cornick said...

Absolutely, Maureen! That "frankly my dear..." thing gets me every time!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Miss Cornick, quite a party you've got going here! Sounds like Jack has a fan club building. Um, can I join? ;-)

Lynn, thanks for mentioning Kylemore! I adore the Anne Stuart and Laura Kinsale heroes you mention - although Laura Kinsale's always suffer so much, I'm not sure I'd really think of them as your classic bad boys. She really knows how to torture a guy!

Nicola, thanks for that insight into what's coming next. As you know, I'm first off the rank when it comes to lining up for your new releases. A book of yours I particularly loved was LORD GREVILLE'S CAPTIVE set in the English Civil War. Do you have any plans to return to that period? I thought the drama and the emotional story you told of lovers divided by their devotion to different sides of the cause was just fantastic.

And hey, good luck for the RITAs!!!

Anna Campbell said...

And I meant to say, I SOOO admire how you suffer for your art, having to think of Clive Owen. What an example you are to all of us! ;-)

Nicola Cornick said...

Well, Anna, you know what a tough job this can be...

Ooh, thank you for mentioning Lord Greville's Captive! I did LOVE my English Civil War book and am definitely planning another at some point. It's a fascinatingly turbulent period of history and again such a rich background for a writer to draw on.

And the very best of luck to you for the RITAs as well!

Angel said...

Sherry, I usually find that hunting down a picture helps me with how my H/h looks. I can't usually choose an actor or actress I've seen quite a bit, because that proves to be too distracting. But having apicture to look at grounds me in their physical actions.

For the emotional, I do the story magic charts, because they don't just cover GMC, but also short and long term goals, why the relationship is working/not, and more in depth emotional issues. Character interviews have never really done much for me, because I forget the info as soon as I'm not looking at it.

For me to love a bad boy, he has to be well motivated. And quite frankly, I like 'em tortured... But that's just me. If he's arrogant and take charge, it has to be because he's desperate to protect/have the heroine, etc.


catslady said...

I want to say how much I enjoyed Wayward Willow and Penniless Bride. I just love historicals! My favorite is always the one I'm reading about lol.

Cherie J said...

Thanks for guestblogging with us. Sebastian from The Devil in Winter is a great bad boy hero.

Nicola Cornick said...

Angel, I totally agree that a bad boy hero has to be well motivated and not just plain arrogant, which would be a big turn off. So Jack in Last Rake, for example, behaves as he does because he is trying to protect his family from blackmail.

I like the sound of magic charts. Haven't come across that before so thank you very much.

Thank you, Catslady, for enjoying my books! And thank you, Cherie! I've had a great time at the Writing Playground! Thank you all very much.