An Interview with Nicola Cornick!

Christina here and today I’m delighted to be interviewing Wench Nicola Cornick about her new book The Last Daughter, which is published in paperback, ebook and audio here in the UK in three days’ time, on 8th July. In the US, it will release in paperback on 16th November as The Last Daughter of York, and both have amazing covers, although I will admit to favouring the UK one as it has such wonderful jewel colours.

Nicola, it’s lovely that it’s my turn to welcome you as a guest to chat about this story, which is one of my absolute favourite books this year. I was lucky enough to read an ARC and I loved it – the mixture of history, mystery and timeslip is just superb and I simply couldn’t put it down!

The Princes in the Tower by Millais

The Princes in the Tower by Millais

Please can you tell us briefly what The Last Daughter is about?

The Last Daughter is a dual time novel set in the present and the Wars of the Roses. The historical strand looks at the mystery of the disappearance of the princes in the tower in 1483 through the eyes of Anne Lovell, wife of Richard III’s best friend Francis. This is linked to the modern day story where Serena Warren is trying to discover what happened to her twin sister Caitlin, who disappeared at Minster Lovell ten years before.

I loved that The Last Daughter is based on the many stories about the Princes in the Tower, the two young sons of King Edward IV, who disappeared after their uncle Richard of Gloucester took the throne for himself and became King Richard III. There have always been a lot of rumours and speculation about their fate, but the truth is that no one knows what actually happened. When did you first become aware of this story and what fascinated you about it?

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Kenilworth Castle – Lavish Love Token

Elizabeth at KenilworthNicola here. One of the things that I have missed the most about Lockdown is not doing my tours at Ashdown House, and not being able to visit other castles and stately homes whilst everything has been closed so it was very exciting when English Heritage started to re-open a number of their historical sites and I could get my history fix again. Last week, for the first time in 5 months, I went to a castle and I thought I would share the trip here for those who would enjoy a virtual history fix.

A place I’d never been to but had always wanted to see is Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire. Kenilworth has a very long and fascinating history from the time of its building as a great tower in the 1120s, through a period when it was one of the favourite palaces of the Lancastrian kings, and the royal visits of Queen Elizabeth I. It was this aspect of Kenilworth’s history that particularly fascinated me, and Robert Dudley’s final, failed attempt to persuade Elizabeth to marry him. So I took The Forgotten Sister along with me on the road trip as I thought Amy Robsart would enjoy seeing the place (more on that later!)

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Do You Believe in the Supernatural?

Moonlit thatchNicola here. Halloween and the long dark nights of winter may seem a more appropriate time to be talking about ghosts and the paranormal, in this part of the world at least, but in other places such a Japan the summer twilight is the time for sitting around a campfire and telling chilling tales. So today, whilst the sun shines and all seems quiet in my ancient village, I’m talking about the paranormal elements in my latest book, The Forgotten Sister, and asking “do you believe in the supernatural?”

The Forgotten Sister is probably my spookiest book yet. At the centre of this paranormal web is Lizzie Kingdom, a young woman who possesses the gift of psychometry, the ability to read objects and connect to their history or to the people who owned them. Lizzie has always kept this ability secret because she grew up as an outsider and didn’t want anything else to mark her out as different. Her gift for reading objects is a deeply personal thing that she uses to connect to the lost maternal side of her family. As she has never truly explored her gift, Lizzie doesn’t realise that it is greater than she imagines. Then she meets Arthur Robsart and is rather intrigued to discover that she can read him too. Arthur, unsurprisingly, finds this an invasion of privacy!

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Historical Icons and Celebrities

ForgottenSister_51 (002)Nicola here. A new book about celebrity was published a couple of weeks ago. Called “Dead Famous” it’s written by Greg Jenner, a historical consultant on Horrible Histories and traces a history of celebrity from the Bronze Age to the modern day. The Amazon blurb reads: “Celebrity, with its neon glow and selfie pout, strikes us as hypermodern. But the famous and infamous have been thrilling, titillating, and outraging us for much longer than we might realise.” Quoted examples are Lord Byron, the Shakespearean actor Edmund Kean and Sarah Bernhardt.

Way back in 2007(!) I wrote a book called Lord of Scandal which was about a Regency celebrity. I was writing it at the same time that I was researching my MA dissertation and it was this research into heroes that fed into the book. Now I have a new book, The Forgotten Sister, coming out in a couple of weeks that also features celebrity, this time in a slightly different way, drawing on parallels between the cult of Queen Elizabeth I and modern-day fame.

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