IT'S SAGA SATURDAY!! Please welcome fabulous saga author Nicola Pryce...


              Hi Nicola, I am so thrilled to welcome you back to my blog and have the                               opportunity to catch up! Let's dive straight into my questions - I'm looking forward to learning more about your latest release...

1.)              What was your first job? Did you like or dislike it? Why?

After A levels, I had six months before starting my nurse training so I got a job in London as an au pair. The family had a fabulous five storey house overlooking a rather lovely park in Knightsbridge. My room was in the attic above the nursery where my charges slept – a ten month baby boy and a four year old girl. I had never looked after babies or children before and after a steep learning curve I really enjoyed myself. I was paid £5 a week (this was in 1975) and I had alternating Saturdays and Sundays off. I took the little girl to numerous parties and sat eating French Fancies and crustless cucumber sandwiches with all the other nannies! The family treated me kindly and I had Harrods and Fortnum and Masons right on my doorstep – not that I could afford anything, of course!

2.)              Do you have a pet peeve? If so what is it?

I’m afraid it has to be people throwing their litter from their cars. That, and fly tipping. The amount of litter along the roadside is truly disheartening.

3.)              Do you spend more time researching or writing?

This is the sixth book in my series. Before I started writing I spent a lot of time researching – nearly three years! I finally put pen to paper and now each book takes about one month to think up, three months to research, six months to write, and one month to mull over before I send it to my agent.

My books scan the years 1793-1800 but have different themes. Book one is about shipbuilding and the discovery of china clay, book two is about the threat of invasion and French spies, book three is about building a new harbour and smuggling, book four is about French prisoners and the Navy, book five includes medicine and building the new Truro hospital, and book six contains the treatment of women locked away in madhouses.

As with all research, only the tip of the iceberg goes into the book.

4.)              Tell me about your book The Cornish Captive and where you got your inspiration for it?

In The Cornish Captive I wanted to go back to the beginning of the series and tell the story of what happened to Madelaine Pelligrew, the former mistress of Pendenning Hall. She has had no voice for fourteen years and has been planning her revenge. The story is based on how easy it was for men in the late eighteenth century to lock women away on the grounds of insanity.

The series takes place on the south coast of Cornwall and is inspired by sailing up and down these rivers and creeks for the last twenty-five years. The houses I use in my books are based on real houses though I call them by different names. Fosse is Fowey in real life, and the crenulated wall Rose Pengelly crawls along can be seen behind the church. The National Trust houses of Trelissick and Trerice are the backgrounds to two of the books, as are several houses in Falmouth and Truro. Mainly it’s the creeks and rivers and the hidden coves that inspire my stories.

5.)              How much of your book is realistic?

I’d like to hold my hand on my heart and say that to the best of my ability everything that happens could have happened. I won’t write a character or a situation until I have proof that something, or someone like them, existed. This is mainly through researching the primary sources. I like to hear the voices of my characters through these sources and most of what I write comes from letters, newspapers, and trade journals of the time.

6.)              What are your ambitions for your writing career?

If I’m honest, I still pinch myself that I’m writing at all. I loved my nursing career and didn’t write a word until I was 57. Never say never is now my motto. Imagine my surprise when my first novel was picked up by an agent and published by Atlantic Books before I turned 60. I have six books with them now and I’ve loved every minute of my writing journey. What lies ahead remains exciting, and though I am not an ambitious person, I know never to say never.

7.)              Who is your role model? Why?

I always return to the same person when I think of who has influenced me the most. My beloved Aunt Dorothy was more than a little eccentric. A Bletchley Park code breaker, with a first in History from Bedford College, she was both hugely intelligent and side-splittingly funny. She was Head of History at my school, was wedded to her job, and was the inspiration behind my love of literature and history. Hard-working and fiercely independent she was a wonderful role model to all her students.

8.)              Share one fact about yourself that would surprise people.

I think the most surprising fact is that I was on the front page of The Times on July 24th 1956. In the photo I am eighteen months old, and my sister is three. My mother is smiling despite the fact that we had just been evacuated from Bagdad during the Iraqi coup d’état – known as the 14 July Revolution. I don’t remember that one, but I do remember hiding under the stairs in a subsequent revolution in February 1963. My family left Baghdad after that.

Thank you so much Rachel for inviting me on to your blog. I’ve had a lovely time answering your questions. Here’s my new book. x     

Cornwall, 1800.

Imprisoned on false pretences, Madeleine Pelligrew, former mistress of Pendenning Hall, has spent the last 14 years shuttled between increasingly destitute and decrepit mad houses. When a strange man appears out of the blue to release her, she can’t quite believe that her freedom comes without a price. Hiding her identity, Madeleine determines to discover the truth about what happened all those years ago.

Unsure who to trust and alone in the world, Madeleine strikes a tentative friendship with a French prisoner on parole, Captain Pierre de la Croix. But as she learns more about the reasons behind her imprisonment, and about those who schemed to hide her away for so long, she starts to wonder if Pierre is in fact the man he says he is. As Madeleine’s past collides with her present, can she find the strength to follow her heart, no matter the personal cost.

The Cornish Captive a book by Nicola Pryce. (

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