Historical Fiction Week: Guest Post by Tracy Rees

The next guest on my Historical Fiction Week is Tracy Lee, author of Amy Snow (April, 2015), The Richard & Judy Bestseller, and the recently published Florence Grace (June, 2106). Today she stops by to talk about the inspiration behind her latest book:

My second novel, Florence Grace, published on June 30th, is the tale of headstrong Florrie Buckley, who lives on the wind-blasted moors of Cornwall. When Florrie is fifteen, she discovers that she is related to a wealthy and notorious London family, the Graces. Moving from country to city, from poverty to wealth, Florrie goes to live with her proud and dysfunctional new family, which includes Turlington Grace, a man with many dark secrets of his own.

People often ask me where I get my ideas from and I usually struggle to answer because the answer is so simple I imagine it won’t be satisfying. I ramble on a bit about influences and the subconscious, but mostly, the fact is the ideas just drop into my brain. I don’t really know how or why. Do you remember that game Connect 4? You had to drop plastic disks into slots on a frame and try to get four in a row? Well it’s like that: I’m like the frame, with a head full of blank spaces (a very telling analogy!) and ideas are like the plastic disks. They just drop in. So I thought I’d tell you about when the idea for Florence Grace dropped in.

For my second book, all my lovely publishers asked of me was that it be in the same genre as Amy Snow, ie historical fiction. That gave me an incredibly wide brief. I knew at once what I was going to write. The idea for Florence had been with me since I was in my early twenties. I can remember its conception well - I was working in a tiny medical publishers in Hammmersmith - it was a colourful area then! The lead singer from an 80s pop band worked across the road and one day serenaded me on the pavement. Once there was a burglary further down our street; the robbers escaped over the rooftops and I remember sitting in the office listening to the footsteps thundering overhead. I was forever having to take circuitous routes to the office because roads would be cordoned off with police tape etc. 

I was in the office one lunchtime, flicking through a magazine, when a headline about Christy Turlington flashed out at me (this was the mid-90s). Instantly the name Turlington Grace dropped into my brain. And with the name came an image. I could see him, tall and very slim with long dark hair and haunted eyes. The instant this picture had formed before me, a second name dropped into the slot beside it. Florrie Buckley. And instantly I knew that she was a long way away from him, she was in Cornwall. I knew the two of them were very closely bound and that was it. That whole process of name, image, name, circumstance, probably took less than two seconds. Then, I carried on with real life. I went back to reading the magazine, to doing my job and dodging gangsters. I could so easily have forgotten about Florrie and Turlington; no doubt hundreds of briefly glimpsed ideas have been lost over the years.

But, twenty years later, these two characters, those two names were still with me. This meant that I needed to write about them. Their story would have to be told. Of course, I didn’t even know what their story was, so I started writing and then I found out. 

Perhaps it’s no wonder that, springing from this crime-infused soil, there is in fact a robbery in the book. It takes place in a cheese shop! Now there’s a tantalising titbit!


Thank you Tracy for such an interesting post. I'm always curious to know where and how authors find their inspiration. Florence Grace sounds a really intriguing story, I can't wait to pick it up. 

About the book:

Title: Florence Grace
Author: Tracy Rees
Published: June 30th 2016 by Quercus

Blurb: Florrie Buckley is an orphan, living on the wind-blasted moors of Cornwall. It's a hard existence but Florrie is content; she runs wild in the mysterious landscape. She thinks her destiny is set in stone. But when Florrie is fifteen, she inherits a never-imagined secret. She is related to a wealthy and notorious London family, the Graces. Overnight, Florrie's life changes and she moves from country to city, from poverty to wealth. Cut off from everyone she has ever known, Florrie struggles to learn the rules of this strange new world. And then she must try to fathom her destructive pull towards the enigmatic and troubled Turlington Grace, a man with many dark secrets of his own. 

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