Taking part in Meet the Author today we have the lovely Val Portelli 🙂 I’ve read one of Val’s books and loved it (link here if you’re interested!). This interview is fabulous so let’s hand over to Val (and her gorgeous foxes!!)
Val Portelli. I also write under the pen name Voinks.
Various fiction categories. I’ve written romance, fantasy, women’s and literary fiction, drama and mystery.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
Since a freak accident made me give up the day job, writing has taken over my life. I live on the borders of London and Kent in a house built around 1898, which I share with a couple of friendly, but chilly ghosts. Since my dogs passed over the rainbow bridge, I’ve run a restaurant for foxes, including one who has learnt to bang on the dog flap in the early hours demanding chicken. I was born at 3 a.m. and am definitely a night-owl, often going to bed when everyone else is getting up.
What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always loved writing, but it was being bed-bound for nearly a year which first gave me the opportunity to finish a book, and get it published.
How many books have you written and published?
Five so far, plus one of my stories was included in a published anthology. I hope to have another book, or maybe two, out this year.
Which book, out of all the books you have written, is your favourite and why?
This is quite a difficult question. They’re all very different with their own personalities, but ‘Changes’ has a special place as it was my first release. The original contract is due to expire shortly, so I’m hoping to update and republish it within the next few months. Who knows? I might even write a follow-up.
How do you choose the names of your characters?
They often name themselves, but occasionally I’ll Google for ideas, which can be quite enlightening. In ‘Spirit of Technology’ I needed an 18th century name for the main male character, and was amazed to find ‘Lee’ was popular at that time.
Which of your characters would you want to be stranded on an island with, and why?
That’s easy. ‘Reno’ because he’s absolutely gawjus. Although it wasn’t intentional, a friend recognised him as the real-love of my life, so perhaps I’m prejudiced.
Who is your favourite author and which of their books is your favourite, and why?
I haven’t a particular favourite author, and it’s a terrible thing to admit, but I never used to notice authors’ names. During a discussion about favourite books, I realised several I had enjoyed were by the same author. Perhaps it’s because in my teens, I devoured Mills and Boon and the authors changed every week. My bookshelf includes several famous names, but nowadays, I read a lot of Indie authors whose work I have discovered through writers’ groups, or social media.
What is the first thing you can remember writing?
When I was about nine or ten, I used to read the ‘Woman’ magazine when my mother had finished with it. I can’t remember the title but I sent them one of my short stories; they didn’t publish it but took the time to send me a lovely, personal rejection letter.
What other jobs have you done other than being an author?
Most of my career was in banking. I’ve worked as a small business manager, archivist and accounts in a solicitor’s office, general admin for a hotel supply company, a flower magazine, and computer cabling for the M.O.D.
If you could get in a time machine and had one chance to travel, where would you go? (Backwards or forwards!)
Love this question. Either back to when I was in my twenties, or forward to when time machines would be freely available so I could travel backwards and forwards at will. It’s a fascinating concept wondering what rules there would be to stop us changing history. When I wrote a short story recently, someone put forward the hypothesis that ‘aliens’ were our own selves visiting from the future, so it would be intriguing to see if he’s right.
If you could have one conversation with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Apart from ancestors, who could tell me facts about our family history, it would probably be Elvis Presley. If I could stop drooling enough to speak, it would be good to chat to him as a friend, and warn him to steer clear of certain people who didn’t have his best interests at heart.
What are your favourite things to do?
The 3 Rs, Read, wRite and aRithmetic. I also love learning new things, trying to keep up with technology, researching, and being by the sea.
What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?
Climbing the stairs in the dark in my new house, I apologised for accidently treading on the dog’s tale, then realised I didn’t have a dog. The vendor confirmed the old lady who lived there before me owned one, and that where I described was his favourite sleeping spot, next to the airing cupboard.
The second strangest was learning a family of Unicorns live in the garden shed.
If you could give your younger writing self any advice what would it be?
Don’t put it off. Do it today because tomorrow you might not have the chance.
Name one book you think everyone should read?!
Mine! 😀 Seriously, I would suggest you pick the next book you see which is outside your normal reading preferences. You might be pleasantly surprised, particularly if it’s by an author you’ve never heard of before.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
‘Story of a Country Boy’ is a hard-hitting story, and quite a change from my usual books. It covers the journey of a young, naïve man leaving his quiet, family village and discovering the pleasures and problems of 1960s London. It’s now available in both eBook and paperback format.
I loved this interview and would absolutely love to visit Val to meet her fox friends (and hopefully meet on of her ghosts!). I’m also intrigued about the family of Unicorns in the shed…!
Thanks so much Val for taking part.
I hope you’ve all enjoyed this. Any questions for Val, just give us a shout below!