Meet the Authors: Story of a Country Boy by Val Portelli

Today we welcome Val Portelli as we travel to London. No, wait, Kent. No, London … Well, you get the idea. While there, we learn how unicorns, a freak accident, Elvis Presley, and a hot air balloon come together to create the magic that is Val’s writing world. Slip into your quirkiness and let’s get going ….

Tell us a bit about yourself.

As well as having several books both traditionally and self-published, I’m a writer of short stories who gains inspiration from the most unlikely places, (which is author-speak for procrastinating on Facebook.) I act as referee between the characters currently living in files on my laptop, who demand their story be next, and the long-term residents of my 100,00-word book, who sulk because they have been neglected.

In between writing, I breed unicorns, (Twinkle insisted on coming along,) and we live in a very old house which has a London postcode, but comes under Kent, purely to confuse your pin map.

In which genre do you write?

I like to experiment so I’m gradually working my way through most of the fiction categories, especially with my short stories. Is there a genre called ‘Quirky?’

How many published books do you have?

Five and a bit. I have a short story included in an anthology, a book I co-wrote with another author, one which is being withdrawn as I’m in the course of republishing it, and three others which sort of makes six. Anyone got a calculator?

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I had my first rejection letter aged nine when I naively submitted to a woman’s magazine. The editor took the time to send me a personal, hand-written encouraging letter, which with hindsight, was a lovely thing to do.

My authorish (a word my spell checker has been instructed to let me use) career really took off about seven years ago following a freak accident. Bed-bound and stir crazy I started writing seriously to ease the frustration, resulting in my first book being accepted for publication.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I tend to go to bed around 4.30 a.m. and find the peace and quiet of the early hours is a good time for writing. The only distraction is chatting on social media to the other side of the world who are just waking up. I turn back into a human around midday, but only after three or four coffees. Until then a grunt is my only vocabulary.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

You’d probably guess ‘Unicorn,’ and you’d be right. Perhaps because we share an affinity in being both shy and confident. A second choice would be a tiger; my father talked about seeing them when he was in Burma, and passed on his love of them to me.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

A desk and comfortable chair on a veranda looking out to sea, with the background hush of waves undulating on the sand, warm sun, a gentle breeze and invisible minions auto-replenishing my every need. Sorry. I got carried away for a minute.

What are you currently reading?

I tend to read mostly Indie published books these days, including beta reading for fellow authors. The traditionally published one I’ve just finished had around sixty reviews, nearly all 5*, and nothing less than 4*. To me it scraped a 3* so it might be politic not to mention the title and author.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

Write short stories. I love socialising but logistics make travelling difficult now, so I don’t get out as much as I’d like to.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Elvis Presley. I’d ask him where was the key to lock him in with me, and leave the rest to your imagination.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

That I’m actually quite good at it. Friends and family always said I was, but I’ve only just started to believe them. Marketing is another matter, but I knew that anyway from my earlier career.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?

I’ve kept a personal diary since I was very young. Some of the original entries were only a few words, ‘Went to school, raining, had math exam,’ but over the years they developed as I tried to make them more interesting. It was probably a good grounding for my books and stories, and I still keep one today. They are also useful for solving disagreements over which events happened at what time.

What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

I was in a hot air balloon and listened carefully to all the safety instructions. Trying to take a picture of the sky I didn’t realise we were descending, and was standing with both hands on the camera when we literally came down to earth with a bump. Whoops.

What do you miss about being a kid?

I’ll tell you when I stop being one.

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

‘Delivery for you lady. One chocolate bar and a new hat as ordered. Sorry it’s a bit late; the traffic between the South Pole and Mexico was horrendous.’

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

I no longer have dogs, but I do have foxes visiting every day. I’d ask Chico if it was possible to bang on the dog flap a little more quietly at three in the morning when he’s demanding chicken.

I’d ask Rosie if Chico is faithful (I think he is.)

I’d ask them both if they could explain to the local supermarket that the fortune I spend on cheap chicken wings is actually for them, not me.

Chico and Raj 

Do you have any trailers for your books?

Pending republishing, ‘Changes,’ isn’t currently available, but this is the trailer.

Tell us about your most recent book.

At the moment, ‘Story of a County Boy’ is my latest release. Here’s the blurb:

The hard-hitting story of a naive young man’s journey as he escapes from a traditional, old-fashioned family life, and discovers the seedier side of London in the 1960s.

How much will he gamble to achieve his dream of becoming a major player in a very different environment?

With each re-telling, the legend evolves.

I made it 18+, not because of excessive sex or violence, but younger readers might find it hard to understand what was accepted as normal behaviour at that time.

Thank you Val for being a part of Meeting the Authors. It was loads of fun getting to know you and learning about your magical unicorn writer’s life. – Camilla

Where to Buy:

Amazon Kindle US:

Amazon Paperback US:

Amazon Kindle UK:

Amazon Paperback UK:

I post a short story every week on my Facebook author page which you can read here:

My blog is mainly short stories with occasional news, chat and writing related posts:

The publishing company web site is a showcase for the works of myself and other Indie authors, (as you can see these Unicorns get everywhere.) ?

All my books are listed on my Amazon author pages:

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee