Day 24 Nicola Cornick – Joyful & Affirming Romance

Why I Love Romance

A few months ago the BBC produced a new dramatisation of Daphne Du Maurier’s historical novel Jamaica Inn. I was looking forward to it very much as Du Maurier has been one of my favourite authors since I was in my teens and she is a writer who influenced me profoundly. I love the way in which she evokes atmosphere and creates such a vivid historical world that pulls you right in. In my opinion some of her books also have a very strong romantic thread to them that is integral to the story. Amongst other things, she writes about the complexities of love and relationships and she does it with insight and wisdom.

About a week before Jamaica Inn was shown, however, there was an article about Daphne Du Maurier’s books in a UK national newspaper. In it they claimed that Du Maurier “absolutely hated all this bunk about her being a romantic novelist” and that the wealth and worldwide fame that she earned from her novelsClaimed by the Laird were a poor substitute for the acclaim she craved from literary critics who dismissed her as “a second-rank romantic novelist.” They pointed out that her books could be dark, macabre and violent as though this in some way meant that they could not also be romantic.

Romantic fiction is a broad genre and for me it can encompass everything from contemporary romance through historical novels to romantic mystery and suspense and more besides. So by my judgement, for what that’s worth, Daphne Du Maurier’s books fall very firmly within the genre. In fact I would list Frenchman’s Creek as one of my top historical romantic novels of all time. What’s more important, though, is that this is something that should be celebrated. We’ve all experienced the literary snobbery that a lot of the media has towards romance. It’s a bizarre fact that these newspapers make a fortune through lonely hearts advertisements from people who are searching for love, and then in the same pages the papers sneer at romance books or romantic movies or just about anything that celebrates love and relationships. As readers and writers we have to rise above such ridiculous prejudice. Romance is a genre that has fostered and continues to foster outstanding talent in writing. It’s life and love affirming. It gives joy. I’m proud to be a part of that as a reader and an author. Because romance matters and that is definitely worth celebrating!

Recommendations:I’d like to recommend two authors whose books I love. The first is Alison Stuart, who writes historical romantic adventure set in a variety of different time periods. I particularly enjoy her books set during the English Civil War of the 17th Century. It was such a tumultuous period and Alison captures the drama and passion of the period perfectly.

My other recommendation is The Highwayman’s Daughter by Henriette Gyland. It’s a swashbuckling, Gothic Georgian-set romance!

Questions for the Author:

Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did.

I’ve traveled a lot and seen some amazing places and done some pretty wild things but I would say that the most daring and adventurous thing I’ve ever done is helping to train assistance dogs. It was daring because until I was in my thirties I had never had a dog in my life and so had no idea what I was committing to. It was adventurous because it brought me into contact with the most amazing people – and dogs – doing extraordinary things. And it has inspired me in so many ways and I hope it provides inspiration for others too.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)

For fifteen years I worked in education and wrote in my spare time. I loved reading romance books for their sense of joy and escape and happiness, and I wanted to write one of my own. My first historical romance was rejected twice before I finally got the call from Harlequin Mills & Boon. Three attempts, twelve years and a lot of my non-existent spare time went into becoming a writer and it was worth every moment!

Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey changed my life. It’s a historical mystery about Richard III and the Princes in the Tower and I read it in my early teens. It fired in me a passionate interest in history as well as a burning urge to know the truth about the mystery of who killed the princes. I became an ardent supporter of Richard III. He was probably my first historical hero. That book opened up a world of medieval historical romance to me. As a result I read We Speak no Treason by Rosemary Hawley Jarman and The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman and from there I read more and more historical romantic fiction. The rest really is history!


Nicola Cornick

USA Today bestselling author Nicola Cornick writes hot historical romance and dual time frame romances for HQN Books and MIRA UK. She has been nominated four times for the prestigious RITA© Award from the Romance Writers of America.

Nicola lives near Oxford, and when she isn’t reading or writing she acts as a historical consultant for TV and radio and works as a guide and historian in a stately home. She also helps to train assistance dogs for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Nicola loves chatting with readers by email and on Facebook and Twitter.

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  • mariannewestrich

    You’re right … romance should be celebrated!

    • Nicola Cornick

      Absolutely, Marianne!

  • Deb Hinshaw

    I like your statement about romance being a genre that fosters writing talent. That is spot on. How wonderful that you are a consultant for historical programs.
    I also admire you for training seeing-eye/assistant dogs. I am not much of a dog-lover, but I have seen how they work wonders as therapy dogs in assisted living homes for the elderly or persons who have Alzheimers and who just want some love, and as therapy reading dogs for children. Thank you for making a difference for these people! God Bless!

    • Nicola Cornick

      Thank you very much, Deb. I think therapy dogs can add so much to the quality of life. I remember when my godmother was in her last illness the home she was living in allowed dogs in for that very reason. We took one of our dogs, Angus, to see her, and it was just lovely.

  • Danny

    Hi Nicola, great posting! Love your books

    • Nicola Cornick

      Thank you so much, Danny.

  • Erin F

    thanks for such a great post! I’m so impressed by your assistance dog training. I would love to do that eventually too! Thanks for sharing!

    • Nicola Cornick

      Thanks, Erin! I’m glad you enjoyed the post and I hope you get to work with assistance dogs one day!

  • Sharlene Wegner

    I have a friend who works at Guide Dogs for the Blind. We took our Girl Scout troop for a presentation about Guide dogs & service dogs. Very enlightening! It is so great that you are able to train dogs to do specialized things for people with needs.

    • Nicola Cornick

      Thank you, Sharlene. We do presentations sometimes (the dogs are always the star of the show, of course!) and it’s great to be able to share with people the sort of work they do. It gets such a positive response. People are very supportive.

  • alisha woods

    not heard of Alison Stuart

    • Nicola Cornick

      I hope you enjoy her books, Alisha. They’re great!

  • Joan Varner

    Thank you for your post. Historical romance is so good because it introduces the readers to world that is new/old for the readers.

    • Nicola Cornick

      Thank you, Joan. Yes, I think historicals form a wonderful part of an even more wonderful romance genre!

  • Irma Jurejevčič

    I’m loving this! I’m from Slovenia an I’m in love with historical romances. This is a new author to me and I’m excited.

    • Nicola Cornick

      I’m so pleased you are finding new-to-you authors, Irma. That’s one of the many great things about Read a Romance Month!

      • Irma Jurejevčič

        Thank you, Nicole. This is so true.

  • Quinn Fforde

    You really do love history according to your bio. Wow! Good post!

    • Nicola Cornick

      Thanks, Quinn! Yes, it’s true – I do have a bog passion for history!

  • rebecca moe

    Great post! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Nicola Cornick

      Thank you, Rebecca.

  • Martha B

    In random order….(1) I love historical romances. Thanks for writing in my preferred genre! (2) I appreciated the recommendations for other authors (new to me). (3) Reading your bio, I wondered, “How does she have time to write books?!” I’m glad you juggle so many activities. It leads to a rich, full, meaningful life.
    (4) I have two friends who depend on assistance guide dogs (though neither is blind). It was a revelation to me that dogs can be trained to help people with chronic illnesses like diabetes, epilepsy, etc. It has dramatically improved their lives. Thanks for helping train guide dogs for the blind.

    • Nicola Cornick

      Hi Martha! Thank YOU for the comments! Yes, it’s important for me to do a variety of things because I do find I can become isolated if I write all day and don’t go out. That suits a lot of people but not everyone. We have to find what works best for us.

      I do think that dogs are truly amazing in the range of assistance they can give and I love hearing how they can make such a difference to people’s lives. I love too the strong bond they form with their owners. It’s very special.

  • Emmel

    The Sunne in Splendor! I haven’t thought of that one in ages. Thanks for bringing back my memories of that wonderful historical novel!

    • Nicola Cornick

      A pleasure, Emmel! That was such an influential book for me. Really rich, historical writing.

  • MK

    Ooo, Daughter of Time is a GREAT book!

    • Nicola Cornick

      I totally agree!!!

  • Pamby50

    Great post. Love historical romance books. Dog training takes time & patience. Perfect for writers.

    • Nicola Cornick

      Thank you! Dog training also helps me get out and meet some very interesting people!

  • Sue G.

    I know what you mean! Everyone views romance novels differently. Look at Nicholas Sparks…almost all of his books ends tragically, but deep down they are still romances.

    • Nicola Cornick

      I totally agree, Sue. You see lots of books that are essentially romances described as something else (especially if they are written by men!) and everyone has their own idea of what constitutes a romance. I don’ think that matters unless people denigrate the genre.

  • librarypat

    I came late to romance. I read Du Maurier’s REBECCA because that is our daughter’s name. It was my introduction to dark, gothic, atmospheric reads. I loved it. I never really considered it a romance, but then, I hadn’t heard of romances. I read books pertaining to science, history, archeology and enjoyed mysteries. I have read many romances since discovering them about 30 years after finding REBECCA. It is unfortunate that the genre isn’t receiving the respect it deserves. The research most authors put into writing their books gives them a validity and sense of the period in which they are set. I have learned much more from the historical romances I have read than some of the history courses I took.

    • Nicola Cornick

      Thanks, Pat! I think a lot of historical authors really enjoy the research and if we can include some interesting stuff in the stories and people enjoy learning something new, it’s a great way to spread the word about history. It’s one of my favourite aspects of the writing.

  • Marcy Shuler

    I’m glad that romance covers such a wide array of books. I can pick and choose what I’m in the mood to read and still get the HEA that I love.

    • Nicola Cornick

      Yes, that is so true, Marcy. We have such a wide variety of books across the genre. It’s wonderful.

  • Patty Vasquez

    Historical romance is my “comfort food.” At the end of a hard day at school, it’s a calorie free way to revive myself. Thank you for the book recommendations. Both Alison Stuart and Henriette Gyland sound very intriguing!

    • Nicola Cornick

      Ha! I like that! A calorie free way way to revive yourself! – Yes, romance is good for us in so many ways!
      I hope you find and enjoy Alison and Henriette’s books. They are really good and fun.

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    I loved your post. I’m awed by the fact you train service dogs. Good for you!!

    • Nicola Cornick

      Thank you, Eileen. It’s a great pleasure and privilege to work with the service dogs. They really are awesome.

  • Glenda

    I can imagine that it would be extra difficult to train service dogs if you’ve never had a dog…then again you wouldn’t have any bad habits to break…. Thanks for a great post Nicola!

    • Nicola Cornick

      Thanks, Glenda. Yes it was quite daunting but we could all learn together! We currently have a service dog boarding with us called Jasper. He is great and it’s lovely to be going out on training walks with him.

  • Kathy Nye

    I love The Daughter of Time!!! It’s fun to find authors who like the same books.

    • Nicola Cornick

      Isn’t it a great book, Kathy? It made such an impression on me. I’ll never forget it.

  • Nicola Cornick

    Thank you so much to Bobbi and everyone who has helped her put together this awesome month of celebration and to all of you for your lovely comments. Happy reading! Nicola x

  • catslady

    Another favorite author – enjoyed the interview!

  • Sheila M

    Thanks for the book recommendations. I’ll try some of them!

  • M Kuxhaus

    Thanks for the book recommendations! They sound great.

  • Stephanie M.

    Thank you for your post. Your books are new to me and I will add them to my TBR list. I have always wondered what it takes to train guild dogs.

  • Laurie Skinner Gray

    So sad that she didn’t embrace the title of Romance Author, if what the article wrote was true. I’m glad that today’s writers embrace the title fully, they deserve it!

  • Gretchen

    I love romance, and Scotland, and kilts!

  • Laurie W G

    I’m so glad you kept at it. I’ve enjoyed several of your historicals!
    Do you miss teaching? Do you give writing seminars?

  • flchen1

    Romance IS love and life affirming, Nicola! Thanks for writing such wonderful stories!

  • Judy Goodnight

    Huzzah for historical romances and historical mysteries as well! The Daughter of Time is a favorite of mine.