Meet Philippa East author of Little White Lies

Clinical psychologist Philippa East's debut Little White Lies was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Award 2020. The ebook is on Amazon and the paperback is available/orderable at all good bookshops. During this difficult economic time please support your local independent bookshop or order  online from our Thriller Women list on

Book cover of Little White Lies by Philippa East

TW: What was your journey to becoming a writer?

PE: I actually didn't start writing seriously until I was about 30. I happened to have a week off work and decided to start writing a novel (as you do!). I had a lot of fun over the next year or so working on my manuscript, with no expectations or constraints. It was (is) a pretty terrible novel which I never really finished, but through writing it I did discover my love of writing. I then wrote short stories for quite a few years, and was able to get a number of these published. This was great 'training': during this time, I went on lots of courses about craft, built up connections with other writers and started to learn about the world of publishing. I then went part time in 2015 and embarked on another novel. Five years, a lot of sweat and tears, and about 25 drafts later, Little White Lies was published.

TW: Why do you write thrillers?

PE: I think the psychological thriller is an amazing vehicle for exploring questions about human nature and how we live our lives. Exploring these themes within a good page turner really hits the spot for me.

TW: If you didn't write thrillers which other genre would you like to give a whirl?

PE: Well, I think I'll always be on the dark side of things (I'm definitely not equipped to write uplit!), so probably... psychological horror?! I am also quite drawn to speculative fiction - along the lines of the Black Mirror TV series. Generally, I'm really curious to see where the 'market' heads in the next few years and what trends develop beyond the thriller. 

TW: Where did the inspiration come from for Little White Lies?

PE: Most of my inspiration comes from watching TV! For Little White Lies, I caught a snippet on a news channel from Spain. A teenage girl had gone missing, then returned home a few weeks later. There were lots of question marks around her disappearance, including whether she had in fact been abducted or whether something else was going on. There was a news shot of the whole family sitting in a courtroom and I remember thinking, 'what on earth are they thinking right now? Do there trust each other at all?' That sowed the seed and other ideas grew from there...

TW: Which thrillers (apart from your own) would you recommend to readers?

PE: There are so many! Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn will always be a favourite of mine, but I'd also recommend some recent releases, including If I Can't Have You by Charlotte Levin, All In Her Head by Nikki Smith and Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall.

TW: What's your favourite part of thriller writing?

PE: For me, it's the point where I understand what it is I'm really writing 'about' - the theme, I suppose, like I mentioned earlier. It really helps me pull the book together, and understand what is driving me to write the story. I also like (in the editing stage) working out how to 'drip feed' in the clues towards the twists or reveals I'm planning. That's a sort of 'hand-rubbing' moment!

TW: If you weren't an author what would you like to do for a living?

PE: Well, I still have my day job as a clinical psychologist and therapist, so perhaps I would be doing that full time? I've also considered various other jobs in my life, such a librarian, journalist or archaeologist. But to be honest, writing novels feels like exactly what I'm meant to be doing. 

TW: What are your three top tips for aspiring thriller authors?

PE: Firstly, read, read, read! There are so many great thrillers out there which can inspire and guide you. Reading widely in the genre will also help you spot what's already been done and where the gaps in the market might be. Secondly, get thorough feedback on your work (e.g. from beta readers), as we can never figure it all out by ourselves. This is also helpful to check whether readers can too easily spot the reveals or twists you're setting up. Thirdly, I'd recommend this handy article from story grid about the genre.

Thanks Philippa!

More about Little White Lies

She only looked away for a second...

Anne White only looked away for a second, but that's all it took to lose sight of her young daughter.

But seven years later, Abigail is found.

And as Anne struggles to connect with her teenage daughter, she begins to question how much Abigail remembers about the day she disappeared...

Coming on 18th February 2021:

Home can be the most dangerous place...

In a small London bedsit, a radio is playing. A small dining table is set for three, and curled up on the sofa is a body...

Jenn is the one who discovers the woman, along with the bailiffs. All indications suggest that the tenant - Sarah Jones - was pretty, charismatic and full of life.

So how is it possible that her body has lain undiscovered for ten whole months?


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