My editor had suggested that I write a biography – they were hugely fashionable in this year – and I wanted to write about someone who worked with his hands. While I was puzzling about who would be the subject of a fictional biography I was given a book on plant collectors and gardeners and read of John Tradescant. It happened that I visited a garden centre, and tripped and literally fell into a tray of Tradescantia. It was enough of a hint! I started research on John Tradescant and found enough material for two books, and developed an entirely new style of writing: the fictionalised biography.