Interview with Valerie Nifora, Author of Mary Whitcombe

06 Dec 2023

What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Mary Whitcombe?

I had just finished ‘The Fairmounts’ and handed that off to my publisher and then Mary (one of the characters in The Fairmounts) figuratively tapped me on the shoulder, and felt the need to explain herself. So, I sat in front of my computer and started writing. It’s her confessional. She wanted to explain why she made the choices she made that caused the things to happen in ‘The Fairmounts’. It was definitely a stream of consciousness that took over. I didn’t know it was going to be a series, to be frank, until that moment.

Although ‘Mary Whitcombe’ is book two in The Fairmount series, it’s written in such a way that it’s a standalone book. You can read it out of order or simply just read it, and that’s it. I did that very intentionally. They work together to add more clarity to what happened, but they are also very independent. Unlike most series where the narrator stays the same, in this series it switches. Harry told the story in ‘The Fairmounts’. Mary tells the story in ‘Mary Whitcombe’. And yes, I do have book three coming together now so stay tuned!

If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Mary Whitcombe, what would they be?

Theme songs. Ok. Let me think. That’s a fun question!

For Mary it’s, “Loneliness for Love” by Lovelytheband, for Harry it’s “Summertime Friends” by The Chainsmokers, for John Fairmount it’s “Ocean Drive” by Duke Dumont, for Marco it’s “Colour My Heart” by Charlotte OC, and for Lois it’s “It Ends Tonight” by All-American Rejects.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

For the most part I read the genre I write. I started writing because there was nothing more to read in my category. Now, I appreciate that sounds odd given the number of books that are published each year. But, I’m a fan of first-person narratives, written in a style very long forgotten, and, as it so happens, that’s what I write! My favorite books ‘A Blithdale Romance’, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, ‘Rebecca’ and ‘My Cousin Rachel’ by Daphne du Maurier, ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte.

It’s a completely different way of telling a story. They’re incredibly unique in their own way, and they carry you along to an unexpected ending. That’s what I hope I achieve with my books.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

My “to be read” pile is currently filled with several nonfiction books and biographies, and of course I revisit the books I mentioned before. They’re comfortable companions! I will confess I don’t have a lot of time to read balancing life, work, kids, spouse, so I tend to watch movies. Old historical films or remakes of the books I just mentioned. Correction, I tend to fall asleep watching movies. Although, I will say, I’m currently fascinated by the 2022 film ‘Elvis’ and the breathtaking job Austin Butler did in that film. Just awe inspiring.

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

I have a few favorite scenes, but I don’t want to spoil what happens. I’ll say that any scene that involves Mary Whitcombe and John Fairmount is my favorite. They were incredibly fun to write and imagine, and hopefully fun to read. For those unfamiliar, John Fairmount is the “Great Gatsby-esque” character that strikes a bargain with Mary Whitcombe, the heiress with a missing fortune. The bargain is to keep the nephew, Harry away from Joh Fairmount’s wife, Lois. Harry has shown interest in Mary and so the story spins from there.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

Quirky writing habits. Let’s see. I try to write on Saturday mornings before my household wakes up and I do it mostly in the dining room, because it’s the place I will make the least noise to disturb anyone. I also only write on my laptop. I can’t write stories longhand. It always has to be on a computer.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

I have a few mottos. First and foremost, life is beautiful and people make it ugly. I try to contribute to the beautiful part.

The other is that sometimes, people are just not going to like you. So, leave it. To paraphrase Denzel Washington, sometimes your angels irritate their demons. And there’s nothing you can do about that, but find the other people with angels and spend your time with them.

And finally, make peace with yourself. I think the world would be a much better place if people actually made peace with themselves.

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

I hope that people remember that you can make a beautiful life even when bad things happen. I think it’s the chaos of being alive. Things will happen. People will come and go, but you have choices and responsibilities and you can improve whatever it is. I hope they come away with a better understanding of love, forgiveness, redemption, and hope. Those are essentially the things I write about. I hope my works contribute to the “beautiful” in life.


Valerie Nifora is the author of the new book Mary Whitcombe

Connect with Valerie Nifora

Author Site



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