Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over 100 novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her many bestselling series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana.
In this interview, Tracie shares some of her thoughts regarding her latest novel, Finding Us, book two in her Pictures of the Heart Series.
FF: Can you please provide a brief summary of your novel, Finding Us?
Finding Us is set in 1909 Seattle when Eleanor Bennett takes a job as a Camera Girl at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. She snaps a photograph of a young widow with her baby and finds herself haunted by the woman. Meanwhile she is also consumed by thoughts of the young botanist she meets. William “Bill” Reed is fascinated by Eleanor. Finally, he has found a woman who is interested in the same things is he. He wants to spend more and more time with her, but then he spies the photograph of the widow and her baby. Stunned, he reveals this is his sister-in-law, a woman he and his brother thought had died months earlier when their ship from Alaska sank. Eleanor is determined to help Bill find her, as well as help him restore a manuscript he’s supposed to turn in to his publisher. During all of this, the couple grow in their love for one another and determination to return to Alaska. However, not everyone wants to see this happen. Can faith really move the mountains that stand to block this couple from true love and happiness?
FF: Finding Us is the second book in your Pictures of the Heart Series. What is the connecting element for all of the books in this series?
The connecting element is the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909 and the Camera Girls. All of the stories take place at this world’s fair, with a variety of other things going on around the characters.
FF: What was the inspiration for your series?
The exposition itself got me excited. I had read about how the new Kodak Brownie camera was promoted there to inspire the common, everyday man and woman to get into photography. I was also fascinated by the exposition’s various displays and the popularity of the event.
FF: You have written more than 100 novels, what sets this series apart from the other novels you have written?
The setting is definitely different. I’ve not focused on a world’s fair type setting before this and found it great fun. Plus it had elements of Alaska and the Yukon which I’ve written about many times before.
FF: Why did you choose to set the Pictures of the Heart Series in Seattle during the early 1900s?
As I’ve mentioned, it was because of the exposition being held there the summer of 1909. I thought it gave me a lot to work with, having people coming in from other locations, as well as having valuable exhibits and fascinating bits of history. It just seems like the perfect storm.
FF: Your female protagonist, Eleanor Bennet, is a Camera Girl. What did this role entail?
Although I made up the Camera Girls, there really was a strong fascination with photography at this time. Kodak had just introduced a reasonable priced camera for the average person, and it proved to be very popular. As a Camera Girl, I had my girls out snapping souvenir pictures of expo attendees and advertising the Brownie camera for sale at their little photography shop.
FF: Can you please discuss how Eleanor and Bill Reed first meet and what drew them together?
Eleanor and Bill meet when Eleanor is flat on her stomach trying to take a photograph of some flowers by the lakeside. She loves botany and mixes it with her photography job by taking photographs of usual vegetation and flowers. When Bill comments, she jumps to her feet and nearly falls into the lake, but Bill keeps her from going in.
FF: One of the main themes that your characters grapple with is learning to trust God to direct their path. Are there other lessons that you hope readers can take away after reading Finding Us?
Just that God is always two or three or four hundred steps ahead of us. He has already made provision for everything in our lives. We can trust Him to be there for us in all situations.
FF: In addition to history and romance, there is also a component of suspense threaded throughout your novel. What do you love most about weaving all of these elements into one novel?
I love complicating the story to add intrigue and excitement, mystery and adventure. For me, it’s always about letting the reader think they know what’s happening and then taking a different turn to keep them guessing. Romance can be very formulaic if you aren’t careful. The reader pretty well expects that the boy will get the girl. But complicating how he gets her and what happens to them on the journey is what I find to be the most fun.
FF: What are you working on next?
With book 3 for this series in the bag, I’m getting ready to start a brand new series that will debut in 2024 and be set in frontier Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Pictures of the Heart Series #2
Genres: Historical Romance
Release Date: July 25, 2023
One candid photograph will change the lives of four people forever.
While taking photographs at an exposition in Seattle in 1909, Camera Girl Eleanor Bennett snaps an image of a woman in widow’s clothes with deep sorrow etched in her expression and a young infant in her arms.
Eleanor longs to study botany at the University of Washington and soon becomes fast friends with botanist Bill Reed, but she can’t stop thinking about the widow in the photograph. She is stunned to learn Bill recognizes the woman as the sister-in-law he believed lost in a shipwreck.
As Eleanor and Bill hunt for Amelia Reed to reunite her with her grief-stricken husband, they must stand together to face the danger that follows and learn to trust that God will direct their paths.
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