International Author Series: Nicola Cornick, England
Nicola Cornick has penned 18 Regency historicals plus a June 2007 release, Lord Of Scandal, from Harlequin’s HQN imprint. Her 2006 release, Lord Greville’s Captive, is an RNA finalist. It may be that Ms. Cornick’s geographical placement, England, gives her a leg up when writing about her own country’s historical underpinnings. However, location isn’t her friend when it comes to promotional efforts or meeting with her US Audience. Ms. Cornick shares with us the joys of writing across the Pond as well as the pitfalls.
Do you have modify the language in the books to exclude colloquialisms from your native tongue?
Fortunately the Regency language that I use in my historicals is fairly distinctive so this isn't as much of a problem for me as it might be for contemporary authors. I do notice my editor changing spellings of words like honour to honor, though, and that feels a bit strange!
Where do you prefer the books you read to be set?
I love reading books set in all sorts of places, from Europe to the US to Africa and the Far East. I love historicals set in eighteenth and nineteenth century Russia and I particularly enjoy contemporary romance set in the US.
How does living outside the U.S. affect your ability to research your books?
Again fortunately because I write Regency historicals, I have no problem with research. These days with the internet and access to very good libraries, I think research is less of a problem than it used to be. I recently read of a UK author who won a book prize with a novel set in Canada, but she had never been there as she suffers from agoraphobia. She did all her research in the British Library!
Because of the expense of travel, you can’t do many book signings or in person appearances at American bookstores or meet in person with American readers. The cost of mailings is also more expensive. Do you find these to be disadvantages? If so, what can you do to ameliorate that disadvantage?
I am very sorry that I can't make more trips to the US to meet readers and do signings etc. This is a definite disadvantage, as I would love to be able to meet more readers, do talks, and go to more conferences. I do try to attend at least one conference per year and last year I was lucky enough to be in Atlanta for the RWA National when one of my books was in the shops. It was the best feeling to see it on the shelves!
Although the cost of mailing books for review and for website prizes can be expensive, I think this is well worth the cost. I make sure that I always have a website contest running for promotion and try to get books into the hands of readers and reviewers. I also enter contests so that I can reach more readers and also get feedback so that I understand the market I'm writing for.
Are there cultural differences that need to be addressed in a book?
This is a really interesting question as there has been a debate for quite a while about whether there are cultural differences between UK and US Regency historical readers. I think that there are actually fewer differences than people might think these days. When I started out I wrote more traditional Regencies and US reviewers used to describe my style as “very English and charming.” I think what they meant was that my style was a bit more old-fashioned than the US or Australian Regency authors. But as my writing career developed, I think my style changed without me consciously altering it and these days I don't get the English thing in reviews any more! Luckily people still seem to think the books are charming, which is great. US Regency authors are really popular over here –" we can't get the books in the bookstores so lots of readers have to order them on the internet –" and the fact that they are so popular proves to me that the two markets are really very alike.
I don't deliberately set out to write characters that suit a US based audience. I write very strong heroines because that's what I want to write as an author, and they seem to strike a chord with readers both over here and in the US.
What promotional efforts have you found to be most successful in reaching the US audience, other than writing an appealing book?
My website gets lots of hits and the contests are always very popular. I try to offer a historical themed prize for readers, or something that is especially British –" every year I have a Scottish prize drawing with prizes like haggis and miniature bagpipes and they are incredibly popular! But I think you're right that writing the best and most appealing book you can is the most important thing you can do.
If there is one thing that you could change about the publishing industry, what would it be?
Goodness! I'm not sure about that one. I think I would aim for a more global publishing industry so that in the UK we could get the US sourced books we wanted more easily.
What is your biggest challenge as a writer living outside of the US? What have you done to overcome it?
I think that my biggest challenge as a writer living outside the US is to get my books in front of the readers in the most competitive market in the world. I try to do that by writing the best book I can and promoting it to readers as much as I can. At the end of the day I don't feel too disadvantaged. Lots of US readers have taken my books to their hearts and I feel hugely fortunate and privileged that that is the case.