The end of another month – this year is flying by so quickly – definitely reason for celebration as we edge ever closer to normality, and tonight I am delighted to be drinking with my next Friday Night Drinks guest, author… Val Portelli.
Val, welcome and thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?
Whisky with diet lemonade, please. Does the lemonade count as one of my 5 a day? 😁
Why not? I am a gin or prosecco girl myself, both of which I am fairly sure contain some kind of fruit or plant matter, so they definitely count, cheers! If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
What’s your food preference? I’ll book a good restaurant, first bottle of wine is on me to repay your hospitality, then as it’s virtual we can go clubbing. The chauffeur is on standby, a fun night-out with some good music and dancing, then overnight in a grand hotel. After breakfast I’ve booked a boat trip so we can get some fresh air, then back to your place so I can have a quick browse of your library.
Fantastic. I’d probably choose Italian, so we can load up on carbs to give us energy for dancing and soak up some of the alcohol. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
Elvis Presley, but then I’d ignore everyone else, so perhaps David Bowie who I did actually know in my youth, and Tina Turner, who I think would be both a good laugh and fascinating company.
I need to hear more about your youth with David Bowie now, what an attractive, talented and fascinating man he was. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
I’ve just released my latest book, Alderslay, a mystery/horror and quite a change from my usual romance/women’s fiction. My author career started about nine or ten years ago when a freak accident left me bed-bound and going stir crazy, but it gave me the opportunity to write and have my first book accepted for publication. Since then I’ve self-published seven books, had entries in three anthologies, learnt about editing, proof-reading, marketing, cover design, blogging and have set up my own YouTube site. It won’t make my fortune, but gives me enormous pleasure knowing my books are read and enjoyed all over the world.
What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?
The proudest moment is now, knowing that fellow authors, bloggers and readers who were previously names on a page, have become friends, both virtual and in real life.
The biggest challenge for me will always be marketing. How to get my books noticed so readers can decide if they actually like them.
What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!
That after being a regular with the number 1 spot on Amazon/YouTube, the virus will have disappeared and I can throw the party to end all parties for everyone who was there for me along the way.
That I can master certain technology, and keep up when they make it ‘new and improved.’ Whoops, that’s two but you shouldn’t have kept plying me with drink.
What are have planned that you are really excited about?
‘Val’s Tales’ which is a collaboration of my stories being read by my actor/narrator sister with my theatrical niece doing the admin. After that it’s working on extending some of my first books into series. Something I haven’t done before but I love new challenges.
I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
At the moment Narnia is top of the list, but Malta has always been my home from home so that would be first choice to catch up with friends there. Mobility is still a problem, but a magic transporter is on order to pick me up and put me down anywhere in the world. New Zealand would be a good start, then work my way round.
New Zealand is very close to the top of my bucket list. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.
I’m a night owl and do most of my best work in the early hours of the morning now I no longer have the 9-5 restrictions. If you disturb me before midday ‘Ugh’ means ‘Good Morning/afternoon. Where’s my coffee?’
I also breed unicorns. (That’s two but pretend not to notice.)
Yes, that’s the big thing we need to ignore here! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
Difficult one. It wouldn’t be fair to recommend one of my own books which incorporates romance and starting a new life on a Mediterranean island, and yes, I do have book envy from seeing your bookshelves, and yes, I did try to read the book titles.
Showing my age here, but a book which has stuck in my memory from my school days was Twentieth Century Short Stories. I love the variety of short story collections and even after ahem years, I can still remember many of the tales which have subconsciously influenced my own writing.
Most of my reading is books by Indie authors, and I see amongst your favourite genres are crime and historical, so I think you would enjoy The Wrong Sort to Die by Paula Harmon.
Fighting her corner in a man’s world, Dr Margaret Demeray works as a pathologist in a London hospital for the poor. Suppressing her worry that she’s breaching confidentiality, Margaret gives a stranger called Fox information about a dead down-and-out, in the hope he’ll use it to raise awareness of bad working conditions.But when a second man appears to die the same way, Margaret starts to wonder why the enigmatic Fox keeps turning up to ask ever more complex questions.
She decides to work alone, uncertain of his motives and wary of her attraction to him. Once she starts investigating however, her home is burgled, she’s attacked in broad daylight and a close friend becomes distant. Fox offers the chance to forge an alliance, saying he knows why the men have died but needs her to find out what is killing them and who is behind it.
Yet how come the closer she gets to him the more danger she faces? And how can a memory she’d buried possibly be linked to the deaths? Margaret must discover the truth before someone – known or unknown – silences her for good.
So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
You’ve been a fabulous host and fortunately I rarely suffer from hangovers. Drinking water to counteract dehydration, and a few coffees thrown into the mix, usually keep me going when others end up under the table. The failsafe would be sleep until I’m ready for round two.
After our spectacular night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
A private jet to whisk us off to the sun for a few hours relaxing on the beach, with some quiet reading time. Then a pampering spa, massage, make-up, hairdressers, the whole works accompanied by a few cocktails, of course. We’d finish the night off with a concert by your favourite artist onboard my luxurious yacht, and make plans for next weekend. We can but dream.
Thanks so much, Julie for revitalising me with your fabulous questions. You’re my kind of kind of girl.
Val, this has been the most wonderful fun, thank you so much for joining me, we must do this in person one day.
Val’s latest book is the horror/mystery Alderslay, which you can buy in paperback and ebook formats here, and is included if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.
An old house. A new start. Ancient secrets.
When Gina stumbles across the remote, dilapidated mansion she’s convinced it will make the perfect home for when she and her fiancé Paul settle down together.
At first he supports the venture, but his frequent absences are a cause for concern, especially when the renovations reveal skeletons from the past.
Is local man Steve a prospective business partner or looking for something more?
Why are the normally reticent villagers prepared to accept her as one of their own?
As more uncanny coincidences link Gina to the gruesome history of the house, she must decide where her future lies, and if she is prepared to pay the final price.
Val Portelli received her first rejection letter aged nine, from a well-known women’s magazine. A supportive hand-written response from the editor encouraged her to continue writing intermittently until a freak accident left her housebound and going stir crazy.
To save her sanity, and with time on her hands, she completed her first full length novel which was accepted by a publisher. This was followed by a second traditionally published book before she decided to use the experience she had gained to venture into self-publishing.
Her novels and the weekly short stories she writes for her Facebook author page and website cover various genres, often including her trademark quirky twist. Nearly ten years later she has contributed to various published anthologies, and has seven published novels, with others champing at the bit for their stories to be told.
With constantly changing technology and reading tastes, every day presents a new challenge, but there is always something new to learn, and inspiration is everywhere.
She is always delighted to receive reviews as they encourage sales, and pay for the upkeep of the Unicorns she breeds in her spare time.