Author of children's mystery novels set in historic Blackpool wants to inspire young girls on their career path

The author of two children’s mystery novels set in 1930’s Blackpool wants her Gracie Fairshaw character to be a positive role model for young people in the resort.

Susan with her two Blackpool-set books in front of the tower
Susan with her two Blackpool-set books in front of the tower

Susan Brownrigg, a former journalist, has just finished writing the third instalment of her Gracie Fairshaw children’s book series, which are set in 1930’s Blackpool.

The stories are about a young detective, who also becomes a journalist in the resort.

And she wants ambitious young Gracie to be a positive role model for disadvantaged children.

Susan at Blackpool Zoo with a lemur

She said: “I was from a working family and I remember being told there were only certain jobs open to you. You could work in a shop, but not much beyond that. I want to show children that there are lots of opportunities. That’s why I wanted Gracie to become a journalist.”

Susan was the first person in her family to attend university, and as a child she helped her dad on his milk round for extra pocket money.

She completed a media degree at Cardiff university, and worked at Liverpool Daily Post & Echo Weekly for ten years.

She then worked at various museums, including twelve years as learning manager at Norton Priory Museum.

And she did a season at Blackpool Zoo.

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She said “I want the books to encourage young working class girls to have ambition and see there are opportunities out there.

Gracie and her friends are working class, they don’t have much money and they have to find ways to support their family at a young age. And her journalism helps with her detective work.”

And Susan has just finished writing the third book, which will show some of the various jobs that were available in 1930’s British cinema.

“It’s set in the Regent Cinema, and also the Winter Gardens. It shows the world of film in the 1930’s because the British film industry was a big thing leading up to, and during the second world war.”

The author grew up in Wigan, and has fond memories of visiting the resort as a child.

She often went up the tower, rode the tram through the illuminations and braved the ‘safer’ rides at the Pleasure Beach.

And when she started researching the history of the resort, she thought the 1930’s would be a better setting than modern Blackpool.

Susan now works as a library information assistant. She said: “When I discovered a 15-year-old girl, Railway Queen Audrey Mosson, had switched on the Illuminations in 1935 I knew I had the setting for my book.

“The seaside heritage of Blackpool is so special. A lot of the seaside resorts have lost their winter gardens, piers, all those traditional places have been demolished, but Blackpool Council has really done a lot to protect that heritage.”

The first two novels, Gracie Fairshaw and the Mysterious Guest, and Gracie Fairshaw and the Trouble at the Tower, are out now through UCLAN Publishing. They are both available from Waterstones, Amazon and Storytellers, St Annes.

The third novel in this series is due for release in 2024.