We’re delighted to bring you part two of our interview with Alix Rickloff and Jennifer Robson as they discuss their new novels, SECRETS OF NANREATH HALL and MOONLIGHT OVER PARIS. You can read part one here.
Jennifer: I was really impressed by your mastery of period detail in “Secrets of Nanreath Hall”, and all the more so because it’s such a departure for you. What drew you to the twentieth century and the crucible of its world wars as a setting?
Alix: My interest in WWII began while I was in college. I watched Greer Garson in Mrs. Miniver and was forever hooked on the time period. But for twenty plus years and nine plus books, it remained merely a side interest until a recent conversation with my agent during which she asked the fateful question; “What do you really want to write about?” Suddenly, I was confronted with all sorts of exciting possibilities in genres and settings I’d never considered. As authors we thrive on tension, drama, and conflict to shape our stories. And there are few decades more loaded with all three than those surrounding WWI and WWII. Those years were the fault lines between old values and new when the world was reshaping itself in violent ways and ordinary people were caught up in the struggle to, not only survive, but find their place within a changing social landscape. Both Kitty and Anna are at the mercy of these tumultuous events. Coming from the closeted life of an aristocrat, Kitty fights against expectations of class and gender when it comes to following her dreams while her daughter Anna, as a VAD nurse in a military hospital, confronts both the immediate cost of war as well as the aftermath of her mother’s fateful choices.
Jennifer: It’s been a few months since I gobbled up my advance copy of “Secrets of Nanreath Hall” and I am eager for more from you! Can you tell me anything about your next book?
Alix: Not much as I only just turned it into my editor, but I can tell you it’s loosely connected to the first book, though there’s no need to have read the first one to pick up the second. Lucy Stanhope is the spoiled daughter of an ex-pat socialite living in Singapore. Due to a scandal, she’s sent home to England in disgrace just ahead of the attack on Pearl Harbor and Japan’s entrance into the war. Unhappy and alone, she befriends a young evacuee and the very unlikely pair end up running away to London in search of his mother. In essence, it’s sort of a buddy road-trip book set against the backdrop of the WWII British home front. I had a blast writing both Lucy and her twelve year old delinquent sidekick in crime, Bill (any resemblance to my own son are merely coincidence) and can’t wait to hear what readers think.
This incredible debut historical novel—in the tradition of Beatriz Williams and Jennifer Robson—tells the fascinating story of a young mother who flees her home on the rocky cliffs of Cornwall and the daughter who finds her way back, seeking answers.
Cornwall, 1940. Back in England after the harrowing evacuation at Dunkirk, WWII Red Cross nurse Anna Trenowyth is shocked to learn her adoptive parents Graham and Prue Handley have been killed in an air raid. She desperately needs their advice as she’s been assigned to the military hospital that has set up camp inside her biological mother’s childhood home—Nanreath Hall. Anna was just six-years-old when her mother, Lady Katherine Trenowyth, died. All she has left are vague memories that tease her with clues she can’t unravel. Anna’s assignment to Nanreath Hall could be the chance for her to finally become acquainted with the family she’s never known—and to unbury the truth and secrets surrounding her past.
Cornwall, 1913. In the luxury of pre-WWI England, Lady Katherine Trenowyth is expected to do nothing more than make a smart marriage and have a respectable life. When Simon Halliday, a bohemian painter, enters her world, Katherine begins to question the future that was so carefully laid out for her. Her choices begin to lead her away from the stability of her home and family toward a wild existence of life, art, and love. But as everything begins to fall apart, Katherine finds herself destitute and alone.
As Anna is drawn into her newfound family’s lives and their tangled loyalties, she discovers herself at the center of old heartbreaks and unbearable tragedies, leaving her to decide if the secrets of the past are too dangerous to unearth…and if the family she’s discovered is one she can keep.