Good morning everyone. It’s Saturday and a beautiful day here in Kent. You will find me in the garden with my book today – I hope you can all get out and enjoy a bit of the sunshine? Also, happy VE Day for yesterday! On Curled up with a good book today, we have Nicola Pryce talking to us on Meet the Author. We’re discussing the moving moment that finally inspired her to write her first book, the word ‘yellow’, cleaning up the oceans, travelling back to 1793 and her most recent book, The Cornish Lady……..
Tell us a bit about yourself:
Thank you so much Chelle for inviting me onto your blog. I live in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset with my husband and 16 years old border terrier. I came late to writing after a fulfilling career as a nurse.
What inspired you to start writing and where do you get your ideas?
I left school telling everyone I wanted to write a novel but it didn’t happen until my late fifties when I was nursing a patient who had my exact date of birth. We both knew it would be the last time I saw her, and she told me ‘It’s not what you do, but what you don’t do that you regret.’ It was like a bolt from the blue. I cried all the way home and started writing my first book. I didn’t think for one moment that it would be published, I only thought it was important for my kids to know the real me – what was really going on in my head. I based my book in Fowey, a harbour they loved from our sailing holidays.
How many books have you written and published?
That first book was miraculously taken up by an agent and published by Corvus Books. We now have 4 in the series with the next one coming out in November.
Which of your characters would you want to be stranded on an island with, and why?
Ah, it has to be the divine Captain Arnaud Lefèvre in The Captain’s Girl because I’m sure he’d have his cutter anchored in the nearby cove. However, I might well scuttle the ship as Arnaud Lefèvre is a wonderful cook – you should taste his grilled seabass! Also, I happen to know he’d have a bottle or two of Chablis cooling in the sea.
If you were given a boat, what would you name it and why?
We do have a boat but we bought it already named and it’s bad luck to change a boat’s name. However, for years we used to sing a hymn in church with the line ‘Pray for the wanderer, pray for me …’ Hence, we were always going to call our boat The Wanderer.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
I do, but it’s not really love, it’s just your subconscious racing through a list, ticking all the boxes! Love will only follow if the person delivers on that first good impression, but there’s nothing more powerful than that first overwhelming feeling that all the boxes have been ticked!
What is your favourite word and why?
Yellow. Not only because it’s fun to say, especially if you’re a child, but also because it conjures up everything that’s bright and positive. It takes me straight back to my first candlewick bedcover, my fist car (a bright yellow Renault 5), smiley faces, the sun, the first daffodils in spring. It reminds me of lemons in Italy, the T-shirts I buy my grandsons, and the yellow roses my husband wore at our wedding. I love the word.
What is something you can’t live without?
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
These days, it’s a difficult decision. But I’m going to leave the cure for Coronavirus to someone else, and I’m going to put my superpower into sweeping up all the oceans’ plastic and turning it into green waste.
Name one book you think everyone should read and tell us why?
This is such a difficult question but I’m going for A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith. It was a powerful read as a teenager, but I recently re-read it and it felt even more powerful. It’s the story of a family of Irish immigrants living in the tenements of Brooklyn in the first decades of the 1900’s. The women in the book have so little, yet their advice is priceless. It’s a humbling read, and I love the image of how a tree growing out of a crack in the concrete, with very little light, stands as a symbol of hope for Francie Nolan throughout her childhood, and her subsequent escape from poverty.
If you could get in a time machine and had one chance to travel, where would you go and why? (Backwards or forwards!)
I would have to go straight back to Cornwall 1793 to see if I’ve got it right in my books! It’s such a fascinating period of history. The French Revolution had led to Britain being at war with France, the coast of Cornwall was vulnerable to an invasion, the fortifications woefully inadequate, and the ruined harvests had brought food riots. I would love to visit the buildings I use in my books, walk the quaysides, and watch the shipbuilders at work.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
The Cornish Lady tells the story of Angelica Lilly, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, whose father’s prosperity is opening doors. An advantageous marriage is on the cards, so she spends the summer with an aristocratic family on the edge of the River Truro, near Falmouth. But as French prisoners cram into the overcrowded prisons, Angelica has to hide a terrible secret that threatens to dishonour her family. Only one man suspects the truth, and he clearly cannot be trusted.
final words from chelle…
Thank you Nicola for your lovely interview. I’ve recently been feeling a pull towards Cornwall – I need to go there and I’m taking this as another sign! The reason you finally wrote you first novel really moved me, and I’m glad you were inspired (from such sad circumstances). I’ve not heard of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn but it definitely sounds like a book that many of us should check out, so I’ll add it to my list of books to investigate – thank you for the recommendation. And finally, I love that fact that your favourite word is yellow! As you say, it really does bring forth the most wonderful things to the mind.
Hope you all have a lovely, sunny day everyone, and if you have any questions/comments for Nicola then make sure you get in touch!