Today author Tracy Baines has kindly volunteered to undergo my grilling on what it means to be a writer of romance.
Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.
My books are WW2 sagas set in Variety Theatres. It’s something I know well but more importantly, something I love. I used to work in stage management and my husband was a variety entertainer.
My first two novels, The Variety Girls and Christmas With The Variety Girls, have been published this year by Ebury Press – an imprint of Penguin. For many years I wrote short stories and articles because our life was chaotic and I could always find time for them. All the things I learnt writing short stories have been invaluable in the long run – especially learning to get over the rejection. I learnt that it was nothing personal, I just hadn’t got it quite right that time.
I think every story is a love story. Whether it is between two people or between a character and their dream. Passion in anything is attractive. The energy that drives you towards your heart’s desire is my idea of romance.
What inspires your stories?
My love of theatre, but mostly of my family and home. My books are set in Lincolnshire and Norfolk the place of my birth and that of my ancestors. I haven’t lived there for over 30 years but when I go back home to visit my mum and sisters everything becomes so clear and pronounced and I carry all the sensory memory back to Dorset with me. When I work at my desk I am hearing the voices of the past. It’s the sense of community, of people facing hardship and pulling together to overcome it.
Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?
I don’t have a particular favourite – I just like discovering stories. I’ve enjoyed so many great books over the years that it’s hard to choose.
If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?
Canopy of Silence by Margaret Graham. It’s set in Australia in the 1920s and covers the Group Settlement Scheme devised to develop a self-sufficient dairy industry. I was absolutely swept away by it. Those people endured such hardship and their struggle is conveyed so piercingly. My heart ached for dear Debs, that she world find love and happiness. It is brilliantly written with tension that keeps you turning page after page. It stirs my emotions just thinking about it.
Deborah Morgan, an only child, is unwanted by her parents, who only have time for each other; as a result, she leaves Somerset and follows sheep farmer Patrick Prover to Australia, but finds herself an outsider there too, especially when Patrick leaves her to run the farm alone.
She embarks on an ill-advised affair but soon returns to her loveless marriage, pouring all her love into the care of her baby son.
Which romantic hero would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?
It would have to be Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind as played by Clarke Gable in the film. Was there ever a finer hero? Devilishly handsome and undoubtedly dangerous. We’d go to the theatre, to a musical or preferably back in time to the golden age of the Crazy Gang and Gracie Fields. Dancing afterwards and then a meal in a cosy backstreet restaurant that stayed open just for us; then a walk through Hyde Park until the dawn broke. A day on the Thames and dinner at the Ritz the following day. It would have to be something perfectly glamorous – and so not me!
What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?
The support and encouragement is second to none. I have two local chapters within easy distance and it’s great to meet up and chat with people who know exactly what you’re going through.
What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?
Keep going and keep learning. Writing a book takes a lot of mental energy and it’s easy to get disheartened. Nothing is ever wasted. I learn more with every piece I write and I hope it always stays that way.
Tell us about your latest book.
It is the latest in my Variety Girls series, Christmas with the Variety Girls and you can buy it in all formats from Thursday here.
Will Christmas bring an unexpected reunion?…
Frances O’Leary has always dreamed of being a dancer. But after war is declared and the theatres begin to close, Frances and the variety girls must search for work elsewhere.
However, Frances is hiding a secret. As far as her best friend Jessie knows, Frances is a young aunt who adores her niece, Imogen – but what she doesn’t know is that their relationship runs much deeper. Now, with the sweetheart who cruelly abandoned her returning to England, will her secret finally be revealed?…
About the Author
From the age of sixteen, Tracy Baines worked summer seasons, pantomimes and everything else in-between at the local end of the pier show. She met her husband when he was appearing with the Nolan Sisters and she was Assistant Stage Manager.
Her knowledge of the theatre world from both sides of the stage and the hierarchy that keeps the show running really bring this saga to life. She’s also written articles and short stories for key publications for this audience including Woman’s Weekly, Take a Break, The People’s Friend and My Weekly.
Connect with Tracy:
Facebook: Tracy Baines Author