Blackpool Tower Children’s Ballet is the inspiration for a new mystery thriller for children


But not just any seaside resort. She remembered Blackpool and its tower from her childhood holidays and the city’s rich entertainment history would provide her with great inspiration.

She had previously written a resort-based children’s thriller Gracie Fairshaw and The Mysterious Guest, set against the backdrop of the 1935 Blackpool illuminations.

Published last year, the book featured the main character Gracie who had arrived in Blackpool when her family moved into The Majestic boarding house.

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Susan pictured on Blackpool beach with her three books

Now the second book in the Gracie Fairshaw series, Gracie Fairshaw and the Trouble at the Tower, has been published by Preston-based UCLan Publishing and features the professional children’s ballet from Blackpool Tower that has delighted audiences for decades.

Susan, 46, a former journalist and editor who also worked as a heritage guide and is now a part-time library assistant based at Widnes Library, said she had waited over 20 years to become an author published.

Writing stories was a favorite job in college, but getting published took longer. She said: “I started taking it more seriously when I was in college, that’s when I started trying to write a book, an adult book at the time.”

By the time she contacted UCLan Publishing, she had a clear focus and said, “I knew what stories I wanted to tell and I especially love the story.”

Part of the cover of Gracie Fairshaw and the Trouble at the Tower

Upon leaving school, Susan studied for a BTEC in Media Studies and gained work experience in newspapers such as the Lancashire Evening Post and the Wigan Evening Post. She then studied journalism, film and broadcasting at Cardiff University and then got a job with Ormskirk Advertiser. She said: “It was really good training. In the current book, Gracie becomes a reporter. It made me very nostalgic for my days working in the press office and going out to get articles as a reporter from Cub, you forget how nervous you were. “

She has also worked in the field of heritage education at Quarry Bank Mill, Rufford Old Hall, Tatton Park, as a science presenter at the Catalyst Museum in Widnes and more recently as the Learning and Development Officer. community at Norton Priory. She also worked once a summer season at the Blackpool Zoo.

Susan chose to give her main character Gracie a handicap – a limb difference. She said: “Her left arm ends just past her left elbow. The reason I chose this handicap is because my great-grandfather had a limb difference compared to a World War I battle. He had shrapnel in his arm. “

Knowing that her own mother also suffers from disabilities, spinal scoliosis and osteoarthritis, Susan was even more determined to include a disabled character in her series.

Holiday photo of Susan visiting Pleasure Beach in Blackpool as a child

Susan’s home is now Skelmersdale, but she was born and raised in Platt Bridge, Wigan. She said: “I have memories of going to Blackpool when I was a kid. If you were really lucky while on vacation, mum and dad would take you to Pleasure Beach. I was definitely an observer rather than participating. I especially liked the Alice in Wonderland tour, the ghost train and the river cave. Then we would take a streetcar and see the illuminations. I remember going to see the aquarium in the tower. “

While researching her writings at the local Blackpool Library History Center, Susan kept seeing advertisements for the Children’s Ballet in earlier copies of the local newspaper.

In the 1930s, the tower attractions included a circus, aquarium, menagerie, rooftop gardens and the ascent of the tower. From 1902 to 1972, the famous Tower Ballroom housed professional children’s ballet. The girls lined up around the block to audition for a seat and hoped for fame and fortune.

Susan attended a Tower 125th anniversary celebration in 2019 with her mother, and a happy coincidence helped add more detail to her research. Her mother started chatting with the organizers to tell them about Susan’s first Blackpool-based Gracie book and her plans for the ballet-based second. They were told that two of those present at the celebration, Monica Norris and Mavis Mottershead, had actually been with the Children’s Ballet.

Susan pictured in the apprentice house at Quarry Bank Mill.

Susan said: “I exchanged details with the ladies. Monica told me a bit more about the ballet and helped me bring it to life. She’s a lady from Blackpool and the book is dedicated to Monica. “

His book, aimed at children aged 8 to 12, comes at the right time for the Christmas gift market as it revolves around a Christmas ballet show for children. When the curtain rises, it becomes obvious that someone is trying to spoil the show. There are accidents, pranks and a letter with a poisoned pen. Gracie and her friends step in to try and stop the saboteur and save the show.

Susan, who was a 2016 Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Undiscovered Voices Laureate, also wrote a pirate adventure story called Kintana and Captain’s Curse which was published earlier this year and said: “After 20 years of testing (to be published), it seems to have gone very quickly. I need to start writing again now. I’m working on a new Gracie book. ”

Susan will attend a book signing at Storytellers Inc in Lytham Saint Annes on November 13.

* Gracie Fairshaw and the Trouble at the Tower by Susan Brownrigg with illustrations by Jenny Czerwonka costs £ 6.99 and is published by UCLan editions.

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