I’m delighted to welcome south west based historical romance writer Nicola Pryce on the blog. Over to you, Nicola, tell us all about your latest …
What leads me to a story?
I’m often asked what leads me to write a story and for A Cornish Betrothal I can identify five triggers. Once I had them, it was like doing a jigsaw – the pieces were all there, I just had to arrange them in the right order!
I’ll start with the setting and the season.
I knew from first sight I wanted to base a story round the Elizabethan manor house of Trerice near Newquay. The moment I went through the heavy oak door, I felt the stirrings of a story, but it was the steep spiral servants’ staircase that was the first trigger. I had my setting, but what about the season? My visits to Trerice have always been in good weather, but a photo of it in the snow sealed the question. My story would take place in January.
So, who was to be in my story?
I knew Bodmin was a town where French officers were billeted on parole during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars but imagine how excited I was to come across this painting by Thomas Rowlandson clearly labelled Bodmin Cornwall: French Prisoners on Parole, 1795. Not only does it show the prisoners, but also the covered portico which I had read ran alongside the shops. So, there was my next trigger, Captain Pierre de la Croix could take centre stage.
How did my heroine pass the time?
All my stories are love stories. I knew my heroine was going to be Amelia Carew, who we meet in the last book, but I needed to delve deeper into her character. What would she be doing with her time? Amelia grows herbs and supplies them to most of the apothecaries in Cornwall. She is a highly intelligent lady, the granddaughter of an earl and daughter of a lord. She has read all her brother’s books (who studied botany at Cambridge) and has a deep interest in herbal remedies. Yes, you’ve guessed right. My next trigger was a book of herbal remedies, and throughout the book, I sprinkle her words of wisdom in the form of her recipes.
And the love interest?
Well, here it gets complicated. Amelia has fallen deeply in love with a young physician, Luke Bohenna. They have been thrown together and do you know why? My next trigger was such a find. I was searching the records of the Royal Cornwall Infirmary and came across the minutes of a meeting held by those gathered together to approve and fundraise for the proposed new infirmary which opened the year after my book is set – in 1799. Absolutely perfect. Amelia and Luke have become close through a shared interest in medical matters.
But, you know I said it was complicated?
Well, here’s the problem. Amelia was previously engaged to her childhood sweetheart, the young Midshipman Edmund Melville. Four years ago, he was declared missing, eighteen months ago, he was declared dead. Her grief has taken her to a very dark place but Luke Bohenna has helped her. With every passing day she grows more and more in love with Luke. The whole household is holding their breath, expecting him to propose when her new life is shattered by the receipt of a letter from Edmund, announcing his imminent return.
What is the trigger for this part of the story? What is the twist?
Here it is … but I’m afraid you’ll have to read the book to understand why!
Eighteen months have passed since Midshipman Edmund Melville was declared missing, presumed dead, and Amelia Carew has mended her heart and fallen in love with a young physician, Luke Bohenna. But, on her twenty-fifth birthday, Amelia suddenly receives a letter from Edmund announcing his imminent return. In a state of shock, devastated that she now loves Luke so passionately, she is torn between the two.
When Edmund returns, it is clear that his time away has changed him – he wears scars both mental and physical. Amelia, however, is determined to nurse him back to health and honour his heroic actions in the Navy by renouncing Luke.
But soon, Amelia begins to question what really happened to Edmund while he was missing. As the threads of truth slip through her fingers, she doesn’t know who to turn to: Edmund, or Luke?
Nicola Pryce trained as a nurse at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. She loves literature and history and has an Open University degree in Humanities. She’s a qualified adult literacy support volunteer and lives with her husband in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset. She and her husband love sailing and together they sail the south coast of Cornwall in search of adventure. If she’s not writing or gardening, you’ll find her scrubbing decks.
Pengelly’s Daughter is her first novel, then The Captain’s Girl, The Cornish Dressmaker, and The Cornish Lady. A Cornish Betrothal will be published in November.
Nicola is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Historical Writers’ Association.
You can find her at http://nicolapryce.co.uk
Thank you so much for this, Nicola. An incredibly detailed blog. It’s been fascinating having you on!