MS2179rtAn early childhood photograph shows me puzzling away at a Ladybird learn-to-read book. I was an early starter on the reading front but didn’t become a writer until I was a mum with three growing children. Indeed, if anyone had told the very young me that one day I’d be a published author I’d never have believed them.

My reading addiction got properly under way when I was five and our family moved from Surrey, England, where I was born, to live in Hong Kong because of my father’s job. I loved Hong Kong, but I also missed home, and one of the great excitements was receiving parcels of books from relatives in the UK. When the tropical heat got to me, which it often did, being red-haired with fair skin, I’d lie on my bed and lose myself in Enid Blyton, Black Beauty or the Chronicles of Narnia.

Back in an English primary school, aged eight, I was fortunate to have a teacher who read to the class every day, especially books by historical authors like Cynthia Harnett, Hilda Lewis and Rosemary Sutcliff. In this way my love for tales about the past was born.

During my early teenage years I perused Jackie magazine and longed for romance, but instead fell in love with English literature. I tried Jane Austen and the Brontës, raided my grandfather’s bookshelf for Dickens and my local library for Virginia Woolf, George Orwell and Wilkie Collins. I owe a huge debt to the public library system and believe passionately that we should maintain it for future generations.

History is full of fascinating stories of how we came to be, and that’s why I chose it to study at Oxford University. After I graduated I had a brief flirtation with museum work, but eventually books won out again. I took a secretarial course and landed a junior position at Cassells Publishers in Westminster and knew at once I’d found a career where I felt totally at home. Three years of enjoyable dogsbodying later I emerged as a fledgling editor. It was then I landed my dream job: assistant editor at HarperCollins Publishers in the Fiction department! I worked there for many wonderful years, eventually becoming a senior editorial director and looking after my own stable of well-known names. As an editor I learned a great deal from my authors – about the craft of storytelling, how to develop strong characters and write good dialogue, all sorts of writerly tricks. I observed with admiration the huge amount of work that my authors put into their novels and, above all, I learned the discipline of editing and re-editing work, which even the best writers need to do.

My life, however, was about to change. During my time at HarperCollins I’d met and married one of my authors, D.J. Taylor (David), and in due course we had three lovely sons. In 2001 I gave up my job and we all moved from London to Norwich, my husband’s birth place. Here it was that I finally gave in to the desire to write. I started with a short story, but it went on growing and became The Dream House. It was thrilling, but also nerve-wracking, to send it out into the world to find a publisher.

I’ve had eight novels published now, with the eighth, The House on Bellevue Gardens, coming out in paperback on 22 September, all with the lovely team at Simon & Schuster UK through my agent, Sheila Crowley at Curtis Brown. I also teach Publishing and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia and review fiction. Norwich has recently become a UNESCO City of Literature – what better place can there be to live and work?

15 comments

  1. Do hope you enjoy Scotland and again nice to bump in to you with brief catch ups , having always noted you both and the boys via Eaton Ch
    Frances Gaskin

    Comment by Frances Gaskin on August 3, 2016 at 12:58 pm
  2. Thank you! Apologies that I’ve only just seen this. Scotland was beautiful.

    Comment by Rachel Hore on August 31, 2016 at 6:53 pm
  3. Just finished reading A place of Secrets. The characters are so utterly believable that when little Summer disappeared I was genuinly concerned for her, had to remind myself she was’nt for real! Brilliant!

    Comment by Rob Taylor on August 5, 2016 at 10:16 am
  4. Thank you!

    Comment by Rachel Hore on August 31, 2016 at 6:54 pm
  5. Ꮐreat blog! I аm loving it!! Will come back again. I am boоkmarking
    your feeds аⅼso

    Comment by lifts for shoes on August 22, 2016 at 5:36 pm
  6. Thanks!

    Comment by Rachel Hore on August 31, 2016 at 6:58 pm
  7. looking forward to seeing/hearing you at King’s Lynn library on the 31st Rachel!

    Comment by Mark P on October 19, 2016 at 5:25 am
  8. Thanks! Likewise!

    Comment by Rachel Hore on October 19, 2016 at 11:24 am
  9. I love all your books and have nearly read all of them. Please keep writing!

    Comment by Tracey Sparke on October 27, 2016 at 10:55 pm
  10. Thank you so much! You are very encouraging!

    Comment by Rachel Hore on October 28, 2016 at 8:09 am
  11. Having read earlier in the year ” Glass Painter’s Daughter ”
    I am intrigued to know if there really is such a delightful shop somewhere in Westminster…or where the inspiration came from within London.
    I feel compelled to visit the square, the church if there are such places?
    The story was an absolute delight….I was there on every page …you brought the story totally to life for me and I have encouraged many friends to read the book.
    I am now enjoying listening to the audio version….although my inner voices were a little different to Jilly Bond….but it’s not spoiling the treat of listening.

    You are now on my list to read more of your titles… do you ever undertake book signings…it would be nice at some point to meet you in person?

    Comment by Elaine Penrose on October 29, 2016 at 1:05 pm
  12. Dear Elaine, thank you so much for your kind message. I am not sure whether there is a real stained-glass shop in Westminster like Minster Glass – though there ought to be! There is in Norwich, where I live, and which certainly informed my fiction. I do take part in events around the country, but I’m currently writing, so not doing anything outside Norfolk for a while. Where is it you live? Very best
    Rachel

    Comment by Rachel Hore on October 29, 2016 at 2:15 pm
  13. Thank you for your reply
    I live in Hertfordshire…so London tends to be main location for book signings.
    I do have links with book industry. I work with all leading children’s publisher …I organise ” authors into local schools”.
    I used to also assist with adult author events when I worked with a local indi …sadly now closed.

    I look forward to reading more of your work when time permits….

    Comment by Elaine Penrose on October 30, 2016 at 3:10 pm
  14. Hi

    Just finished reading A Place of Secrets. I am from Lincolnshire and my brother and his family live in Holt, so thoroughly enjoyed this book, also love the Silent Tide. Am going to read all you books as love history and books and authors.

    Comment by Karen Wade on January 16, 2017 at 1:58 am
  15. Thanks, Karen. Lovely that you live near where the book is set!

    Comment by Rachel Hore on January 18, 2017 at 8:11 pm




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