An Interview with Val Portelli about her new genre busting book Alderslay

Hi Val, your new book ‘Alderslay’ has just been published. What’s it all about? Hi Paula, Thanks for having me as your guest. The book is about a young woman looking for her first home to share with her fiancé, a dog, a vineyard, an old house in need of renovation, family history and some surprising revelations.

It sounds like a bit of a detour from your previous novels. What genre would you say it fell into and how would you describe your book’s ideal reader? As one book reviewer said, I don’t think I’ve ever had such a hard time trying to pinpoint a genre for a book I’ve read as this one contains a bit of just about everything – from creepy to romantic, it has it all! I’ve settled for psychological crime and murder mystery but hopefully readers with very varied tastes will find it suits. 

What inspired the idea for your book? A newspaper article about a local area with an airport having plans to expand it from a backwater and put it on the map. (It never happened.) 

What part of the book did you have the hardest time writing? Writing the book wasn’t difficult -editing had me emotional as I knew beta readers were right but poor Woof lost out on so many walkies. 

What part of the book was the most fun to write? The ending. I tend to have quirks in my short stories and this was no different.

What is a significant way your book has changed since the first draft? The first draft was some years ago and it sat on the back burner while I published other books. The idea was a good one and hopefully my writing skills have improved over time, but with feedback from beta readers it has changed drastically. It was interesting when someone who saw a first draft, recently bought the book and thought it sounded vaguely familiar but assumed it was another book with a similar theme.

How did you come up with the title? At first it was called ‘Murder of Changes’ to tie in with my first published book ‘Changes.’ As the book developed, and with the passage of time, it became obvious it needed a new title. The house became important and I researched the era from when it was originally built, investigated upper crust names from the time, and with a bit of jiggery-pokery finally settled on a title which I felt reflected both its history and was appropriate for modern tastes.

Which of the characters do you relate to the most and why? I would like to say Woof because I’m a dog lover and he would be the perfect companion.

Would you and your main character get along? If I count Gina as my main character, I like to think we would be friends, and I could give her some straight advice without causing offence.

If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them? Gina: ‘Trust your instincts.’ Paul: ‘Women are stronger than you think. Be honest.’ 

What do you do to get inside your character’s heads? I don’t have to do anything. They tell me how they feel and what they want to say.

At what time of the day do you do most of your writing? In the early hours of the morning. Perhaps I was a vampire in a previous life, but I was born at 3 a.m. and that seems to be when my brain wakes up and the words flow.

What’s your favourite writing snack or drink? Black coffee is my life blood. I’m not much of a snacker unless you count a whisky and lemonade in the evening.

Have pets ever got in the way of your writing? The foxes sit and look at me mid-afternoon, and although I try to hide behind the computer screen, eventually I give up and open the chicken restaurant knowing I won’t be able to concentrate until they have been fed.

As a writer, what would you choose as your spirit animal? Either a unicorn because they fascinate me, a wolf or possibly a majestic tiger in memory of my Dad.

Would you share something about yourself that your readers don’t know (yet)? A few people already know I breed unicorns, but perhaps don’t realise I have a collection of unicorn inspired gifts ranging from USBs to mugs, cuddly toys and condiment sets. I’m 185 years old which is about eight in earth years so I’m allowed to be a big kid. I also knew David Bowie quite well in my youth and wished him good luck with his new record ‘Space Oddity’ before he became famous.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find? Not secrets exactly, but one or two close friends have ‘recognised’ characters from my books, even though I haven’t consciously based them on anyone. 

How did you celebrate when you finished your book? It’s more once the book has gone through all the editing, revisions and is published that I breathe a big sigh of relief. Then I start to go through all the tasks I’ve neglected while I’ve been working on it. At that stage I’ll celebrate with a drink, ignore the TBD list and start thinking about the next book.

What can we look forward to next? I’m planning to do a follow-up to ‘Country Boy’ from the son’s viewpoint, but it’s ten to one an idea will hit me and I’ll end up doing something totally different. 

Thanks for telling us all about Alderslay, Val. Great chatting with you, Paula and I can’t wait until we can raise a glass in celebration of the release of our latest books. Thanks for having me; it’s been great catching up. You can buy Alderslay, or if you have Prime Membershire, you can ‘borrow it’ for nothing via Kindle Unlimited on Amazon by clicking here.

Val Portelli’s bio and links

Val aka Voinks in a previous persona, received her first rejection letter aged nine, from a well-known women’s magazine. A delightful, 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 of 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 self-publish. Since those early days she has somehow managed to publish seven books, contributed to various anthologies, started a YouTube channel and written weekly short stories for her Facebook author page and website. They cover various genres, often including her trademark quirky twist, but these achievements wouldn’t have been possible without the wonderful support provided by fellow authors and book bloggers. With constantly changing technology and reading tastes, every day presents a fresh challenge, but there is always something new to learn, and inspiration is everywhere. She is always delighted to receive reviews as they encourage readers, and sales help to pay for the upkeep of the Unicorns she breeds in her spare time.

Amazon: Val Portelli’s author page

YouTube ‘Val’s Tales’

Facebook Author Page ‘Val’s Tales’

Goodreads: Val Portelli’s Page

Val Portelli’s Blog & Short Stories: Voinks

Twitter: Val Portelli

Twitter: @vals_tales

Quirky Unicorn Books Website

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