The Girls in the Woods
Interviews with Writers

Prepare to be haunted : Interview with thriller writer Helen Phifer

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I couldn’t resist the opportunity to chat with Helen Phifer on her blog tour organised by Neverland Blog Tours.  My interest was piqued by the blurb of her latest novel in the Annie Graham thriller series, The Girls in the Woods.  I was curious to find out where her inspiration came from and how on earth did she do her research!  I’m excited to be sharing The Girls in the Woods with you today.


The Girls in the Woods


Hi Helen,

Welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.


Please summarise The Girls in the Woods in 20 words or less.

A Victorian photograph of three sisters, one of them is already dead and a photographer with a deadly obsession.


What was the inspiration for your novel?

I stumbled upon a grainy black and white photograph on Pinterest in which one of the subjects was dead and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I then did some research and discovered this was the art of Memento Mori photography, it was very popular in Victorian times.


What about research?  What resources did you use? 

Thankfully I was able to do all of my research on the internet; I don’t think there are many places I could visit to find out about Victorian Mourning Photographs. I find Pinterest amazing for ideas and information.


If you could choose to be one of the characters in your novels Helen, which would you be? why?

I’d love to be Annie Graham because she’s married to the lovely, gorgeous Will Ashworth. However I don’t think I’m brave enough to be her because not only can she see dead people, she also has a habit of attracting serial killers.


Are there any authors that have influenced your writing?

Stephen King, James Herbert, Graham Masterton are just a few.


Panster or a plotter?

I’m most definitely a plotter, I like to have a rough idea of what’s going to happen. I’m not strict about it though because I can guarantee once I start writing things have a way of happening that I didn’t plan for. My next book I tried being a panster and I have to admit it was fun just writing without thinking too hard about it. The only problem is the editing, I’m having to do quite deep edits to bring it all together.


Most creative time of day?

I live a very hectic life so I have to write whenever I get a spare minute, but my very favourite time to write is early in the morning before the rest of the house wakes up. There’s something very peaceful about sitting at my desk with a mug of coffee knowing I have a clear head before the kids get up and fill my brain with all sorts of demands.


Do you have a favourite place you go to for inspiration Helen?

If I ever need inspiring I got to Abbotswood which is situated behind the very beautiful Furness Abbey. It’s so peaceful up there, it never fails to inspire me.


Finally, can you tell us what you are working on now?

My WIP is called The Good Sisters and it’s about forty year old alcoholic Kate Parker who buys an abandoned convent to renovate. What she didn’t bargain for amongst the cobwebs and dust was the resident ghosts.

Thanks for answering my questions Helen.

Wishing you success with all your writing projects.


Helen Phifer

Don’t go into the woods. Because you’re in for a big surprise…

In an old album there is a beautiful Victorian photo that captures three young sisters, staring silently at one another. Only the trained eye can see the truth hiding in plain view. One of the sisters is already dead.

Annie Ashworth is currently off duty. With her baby bump growing fast, she is under strict instructions to stay away from police work and look after herself, especially as she has a history of leading danger right to her door. So when her police officer husband, Will, is called to the discovery of a skeleton buried out in the local woods, Annie tries to keep out of the investigation. But as another body is discovered and her own niece suddenly goes missing, staying away just isn’t an option.

As Annie is soon to discover, a picture really does tell a thousand stories. But which one leads to a killer?



Amazon UK


helen-phiferHelen Phifer lives in a small town called Barrow-in-Furness with her husband and five children and has done since she was born. It gets some bad press, but really is a lovely place to live, surrounded by coastline and not far from the beautiful Lake District. She has always loved writing and reading, she loves reading books which make the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. Unable to find enough scary stories to read she decided to write her own.

Her debut novel ‘The Ghost House’ was published by Carina UK in October 2013 and went on to become a best seller along with the rest of the Annie Graham series. The Secrets of the Shadows, The Forgotten Cottage, The Lake House and The Girls in the Woods. Her next book The Good Sisters which is a stand alone, ghost story is released on the 13th October 2016.


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I've been blogging about my interests at Jera's Jamboree for 8+ years. My love of reading, crocheting and being out in nature are all things that help me unwind from my role as an Inclusion Lead in a primary school. I'm passionate about early help and sharing strategies with families to empower and help build resilience. I'm a member of of my Local Authority's Early Help Operational Board, working alongside other professionals to instigate change and growth.

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