Welcome to Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. Here to share a pot of tea and to chat about her latest book, The Secrets of Palmerston House, is Phillipa Nefri Clark.
Phillipa lives just outside a beautiful town in country Victoria, Australia. She also lives in the many worlds of her imagination and stockpiles stories beside her laptop.
With a passion for music, the ocean, nature, reading, and writing, she draws on her life experiences to bring colour and depth to her characters.
The property she shares with her husband, two young adult sons, and labrador, is alive with visiting native birds, home-grown vegetables and herbs, and flowers.
Hello Phillipa. It is my pleasure to welcome to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews and thank you for joining me for Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. To set the mood for our tea infused interview, what is your preferred beverage, tea, coffee or other? And side accompaniment, scone, cake or other?
I would love any herbal tea you might have! And those cupcakes look adorable.
Can you tell us what genres you write for and how many books you have had published?
The heart of my writing is a good mystery because I love uncovering old secrets or hidden puzzles. I’ve published four books in the Christie Ryan Romantic Mystery series (three and a Christmas novella), as well as three paranormal suspense short stories in the Doctor Grok’s Peculiar Shop series (5k stories).
The Secrets of Palmerston House, the latest book in the Christie Ryan romantic mystery series and River’s End book 3 was released late last year. Can you describe the book in just a sentence?
Palmerston House was lost in a poker game in 1853 and now, just before a longed-for wedding, a stranger comes to town wanting it back.
The Secrets of Palmerston House is a multiple time frame novel. Did you find one time frame more complex than the other to write?
Yes. The 1850s in Australia is challenging to me, particularly small town, remote areas requiring special attention to detail.
How long did it take you to write The Secrets of Palmerston House?
About six months.
Did you need to undertake any research to bring The Secrets of Palmerston House to life? How did you incorporate this research into your book?
The older timeline required many visits to the website Trove, which is invaluable for any researcher. I spoke to a psychologist/author about certain psychological conditions for one character which added authenticity to their profile. I also researched rock climbing and some police processes to add weight to scenes.
Many of the characters that appear in The Secrets of Palmerston House featured in your previous novels. What was it like to revisit these characters?
Wonderful! I adore these folk so much and never know where they will take me!
Can you tell us more about the inspiration for the evocative Australian setting of your novel?
The Great Ocean Road in Victoria is steeped in history, dramatic natural beauty, and hidden treasures. Between wild beaches, lush valleys, and a mountain range are a thousand stories.
What ingredients do you feel are necessary to compose a successful romance mystery based narrative?
It is a fine balance between ensuring the central love story is strong, engaging, and moving forward, and at the same time following an old mystery and the various paths it takes the story on. One cannot be at the expense of the other.
What was the most challenging and rewarding aspects of writing The Secrets of Palmerston House?
Finding answers rewarding. As well as creating new intrigue, it was deeply satisfying to reveal more answers from the original mystery in The Stationmaster’s Cottage. Everything is linked, but sometimes in surprising ways. I found it challenging to put certain characters at risk and in a direction which sets up a whole new series.
What do you hope readers will take away from reading The Secrets of Palmerston House?
I’d love to know the readers fell in love with the town of River’s End, and enjoyed the mystery elements.
Can you tell us about your journey to publication?
I began writing as a child. Non-fiction has seen me traditionally published in several international books as a specialist contributor. When my now-adult children were young I wrote five full length screenplays (one became The Stationmaster’s Cottage) and I had one optioned for a while. With the Christie Ryan series I indie-published, which means outsourcing what I can’t do (covers, editing, some advertising), and doing the rest myself. I turned down a traditional deal partway through the series, but most certainly am interested in becoming hybrid in the future.
What writers have inspired you along the way to publication?
I’ve always had eclectic interests as a reader: Anne Rice, Anne McCaffrey, Dan Brown, Enid Blyton, Isaac Asimov, Colleen McCullough, as well as many wonderful romance authors. I’ve always known I am a writer, but it took a lot of years and a change of mindset to make it into a paying job.
Can you tell us about your creative working space, where do you write and is there anything vital you need to get started?
I have a desk with too many monitors, a pile of past manuscripts, and a box of index cards with ideas. No matter how keen I am to write, I always mess around for a bit, either playing a mind game on the iPad, or really anything other than opening the file! But this helps my brain settle so I don’t fight it too much.
Aside from writing, do you have any interesting hobbies?
I’m a championship show dog judge. I do love growing veggies, which isn’t so interesting, but is quite relaxing and yummy.
What is next on the horizon for Phillipa Nefri Clark? Do you have any writing projects you would like to share with us?
Work in progress is a missing person crime fiction novel titled Last Known Contact. Hope for release around mid-year. Ahead is my new series, The Charlotte Dean Mysteries, which I will begin work on once LKC is with my editor.
What 2019 book releases are you most excited to read?
NZ historical fiction author Vicky Adin is soon releasing The Costumier’s Gift. I was a beta reader and cannot wait to see what she’s done with the finished version.
Finally, wrapping up our tea themed interview, who would you most like to share a pot of tea with?
Being here today has been wonderful! If I had to choose one person, it would be my big sister in Ireland, who inspires me every day.
Thank you for taking the time to visit Mrs B’s Book Reviews for Tea with Mrs B Phillipa. Congratulations on the publication of The Secrets of Palmerston House!
1853. A fateful game of poker changed the fortunes of two families forever. A home was lost. But what was left behind?
2018. The wedding of Christie Ryan and Martin Blake is only weeks away and River’s End is buzzing with excitement.
But when a stranger arrives at Palmerston House, a new mystery arises. How does he know so much about the Ryan family, and what do a nineteenth century diary, a grandfather clock, and an old key have in common?
As a dangerous plot unfolds, long hidden secrets threaten to change everything held dear to the town.
The Secrets of Palmerston House will sweep you on a journey to the past and back, where enduring friendships warm the heart, a sad goodbye brings a new start, and the power of true love shines.
The Secrets of Palmerston House by Phillipa Nefri Clark was published on November 30th 2018 by the author, details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
Connect with Phillipa here: