by Anna Campbell
I'm delighted to welcome back one of my favorite writers, one of my favorite people and a lair regular (wow, I hope you're paying me for this intro, Miss Cornick!), Nicola Cornick.
Nicola is here to tell us about her latest historical romance WHISPER OF SCANDAL, the first in her new "Scandalous Women of the Ton" series. They all sound absolutely delicious. The next books in the series are ONE WICKED SIN (November 2010) and MISTRESS BY MIDNIGHT (December 2010).
This is the blurb for WHISPER OF SCANDAL:
One whisper of scandal and a reputation dies…
Lady Joanna Ware is the darling of the Ton, a society hostess who has put behind her the misery of her unhappy marriage to a philanderer. Until her late husband bequeaths to her joint care of his illegitimate child…
Alexander, Lord Grant, is an explorer lauded as a hero and adventurer. He scorns the Ton and wants no family ties. Until his best friend bequeaths to him joint care of his illegitimate child…
Joanna and Alex disagree from the moment they first meet, so how are they ever to stay civil long enough to join forces and rescue the orphaned baby girl? Saving Nina takes them from the celebrity salons and balls of Regency London to the frozen wastes of the North Pole and tests both of them - and their emotions - to the very limit. For what will happen when their bitter hostility turns to an equally passionate desire?
Beware of scandalous women...
You can read an excerpt of WHISPER OF SCANDAL on Nicola's website: http://www.nicolacornick.co.uk/books/whisper.php
Don't forget you can order Nicola's books from Amazon merely by clicking on the covers in the blog. Or you can get them sent post-free anywhere in the world from the Book Depository.
So here's Nicola to tell you about some of the unusual inspirations behind WHISPER OF SCANDAL.
WHISPER OF SCANDAL, my “Arctic Regency,” is a book I’ve been researching for twenty years on and off, ever since I fell in love with the Far North. I come from Viking stock so maybe this attraction to all things polar is natural. I’m a bit like a goose that simply has to fly north for the summer. Usually my annual trips to Scotland are enough to satisfy me but sometimes Scotland simply doesn’t feel far enough. Then things get serious and it’s time for Iceland, Norway and if all else fails, Spitsbergen, right up above the Arctic Circle.
The first trip I made to 60 degrees north was to Iceland and it was amazing. We swam in hot springs, enjoyed the pleasures of bathing in “therapeutic” mud and walked on glaciers and volcanoes, sometimes at the same time. One of my overpowering memories of the trip, though, was the cold. We were camping. Not a good combination. Snuggled up in our tent at night under several layers of thermal sleeping bag it was still too cold to sleep. Shared bodily warmth really is essential in these conditions, for purely practical reasons.
Our second trip, to Tromso in northern Norway, was a special expedition to see the Northern Lights. This time we beat the cold problem by renting a cosy little wooden log cabin out by a lake. The locals told us that the Aurora Borealis came out every night at precisely 8pm. This seemed extraordinary but turned out to be true. Lying in the snow gazing up at the lights as they flickered across the sky was one of most exciting and magical experiences of my life.
And then to Spitsbergen, and a cruise around the island that was utterly extraordinary. So many of the scenes that feature in Whisper of Scandal were based on our experiences of that trip, from getting trapped in the ice (luckily we were in a converted ice-breaker not a 19th century sailing ship) to the party we had on deck under the midnight sun on the last night of the voyage.
The historical research was fascinating as well. The idea of a northern sea route along the coast of Russia to the Far East had been discussed as early as the sixteenth century and frequent attempts were made down the centuries to find this “North East Passage.” By the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the British and other European nations were keen to establish a trade route via the Arctic but the dangers of such a voyage were considerable. Not for nothing was the phrase “safe return doubtful” included in the advertisements asking for men to volunteer for these voyages!
I read up on the account of Horatio Nelson’s Arctic expedition of 1773 aboard the rather alarmingly named HMS Carcass and also Constatine Phipps’ account of the same voyage. Officers for these expeditions were carefully chosen; the Admiralty wanted only the most daring and courageous men who also had stamina and a cool head in an emergency. They offered crews double pay for Arctic Service and a reward of £25 000 to the captain who discovered a route through the ice, but conditions were so extreme that any sane man would have to think twice about taking the challenge. The 1773 expedition ended in failure when the ships became trapped in the ice and were almost crushed. Only a sudden change in the weather and the onset of milder conditions saved the crews. It is from this expedition that the story of Horatio Nelson wrestling a polar bear comes. Nelson had been out on the ice, trying to discover a way through to clear water, when the bear attacked. Nelson beat it off and the bear ran away. No doubt apocryphal, the story of the bear and of Nelson’s heroism in extreme danger only served to burnish his legend.
I also read the memoirs of other nineteenth century travellers who had visited the far north of Russia and ridden across the Steppes. Lady travellers to Scandinavia were few and far between but they were not unknown. Their tales recorded how they learned to row, how they rode astride because it was faster and safer and how one woman gave birth in the Russian steppes and took her newborn baby to Spitsbergen. The Russian tradition that I refer to in the book of wrapping one’s firstborn child in a “lucky” shirt to bring it great happiness and riches is taken from one of these memoirs.
WHISPER OF SCANDAL is a book particularly close to my heart, a story about my love affair with the North as well as the love affair of my hero and heroine, Alex and Joanna. It’s the first in a series of books with unusual historical backgrounds, albeit all very different from each other. And now that I have written my Arctic Regency there’s only one direction to head in, I think, and that is South for a sequel…
So Nicola wants to know - what creative ways can you think of to stay warm in a cold climate? Her favorite answer wins a signed copy of WHISPER OF SCANDAL and a cuddly polar bear toy to keep you snuggly at night! Good luck!