Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Nicola Cornick: Inspiration for Lord Greville's Captive

My seventeenth century historical, Lord Greville's Captive, is published this month by Harlequin Historicals and I thought that I would share the inspiration behind the writing of the book. First there was the inspiration of the lovely Dougray Scott, seen here in his role in the film To Kill A King. I had the picture beside me as I wrote! But the original idea started a long time ago...

Ten years ago I lived in a seventeenth century cottage in a village in Somerset. It was a fabulous place with a huge open fire, low beams and lots of little nooks and crannies. One evening as night was falling, I was reading in front of the fire and glanced up to see a figure crossing the courtyard in the twilight. He was tall and dark, and was dressed in a flowing white shirt and breeches, with a plumed hat on his head. He walked straight past the window and seemed to disappear through a blocked up doorway in the wall! As you might imagine, I sat there for a long time simply staring at where he had been and wondering whether I had imagined the whole thing! I never saw my cavalier again but I started to research the history of the village and discovered that a troop of cavalry had passed through on their way to the Battle of Sedgemoor in 1685…

From that research came the idea for Lord Greville’s Captive. It’s set against the background of the English Civil War, when the forces of parliament, fighting for liberty and democracy, took on the increasingly autocratic personal rule of King Charles I. Like any civil war it was a time of intense personal suffering when men and women were forced to choose between conflicting loyalties, and the struggle could tear families apart and set father against son. On my website at www.nicolacornick.co.uk there is a very moving letter from Sir William Waller to his friend Sir Ralph Hopton, both landowners in the West Country near Bath, that illustrates the anguish of men who had been comrades and close friends and were now in opposition:

"That great God, which is the searcher of my heart, knows with what a sad sense I go about this service, and with what a perfect hatred I detest this war without an enemie. The God of peace in his good time send us peace. In the meantime... we are upon this stage and must act those parts that are assigned to us in this tragedy. Let us do it with honour and without personal animosity. Whatever the outcome is I shall never willingly relinquish the title of
Your most affectionate friend
William Waller."

Such sentiments might have been expressed by some of my characters. In Lord Greville's Captive Simon Greville and his father are on different sides. Anne, the heroine of my book, was betrothed to Simon at seventeen but when the Civil War intervened their engagement was broken and Anne’s family now supports the King whilst Simon fights for the parliament. When the conflict brings Simon back to Anne’s home of Grafton Manor, he realises that the desire he has for Anne has never died. He holds her hostage and vows to possess her, body and soul. But fighting on different sides of the conflict, how can Anne and Simon ever find love and passion in each other’s arms?

I hope that you enjoy the story of Anne and Simon, passionate enemies and equally passionate lovers.

Nicola Cornick


Michelle said...

I have never seen a ghost. I probably would have jumped out of my skin! What a fascinating story. :)

Diane Perkins said...

Fascinating! You had me at living in a seventeenth century cottage, but then the ghost --- and the letter! It is one of those letters that really bring the writer back to life, with all his humanity and emotions. What a treasure.

Innocence & Impropriety by Diane Gaston, March 2007

Nicola said...

Thank you, Michelle and Diane! I must admit that living in a haunted cottage was quite an experience, especially for my husband who is a scientist and doesn't like things he can't explain! But if it provides me with such inspiration then I'm not complaining!


Tess said...

Very cool re the ghost!! Have the book - it's on my TBR pile :-)

Valkyrie said...

While the ghostly visitation is fascinating, I was brought to tears by the poingnancy of the letter. Now I have one more book to add to my growing TBR pile.

Nicola said...

The letter is incredibly poignant, isn't it. It feels like something you can relate to even after several hundred years. Human emotions don't change that much, I guess.