Saturday 10 March 2018

The Hippo Hangs Out . . . . with Val Portelli

I’m absolutely thrilled to welcome Val Portelli to The Hippo today. I regularly pop over to her Facebook page and read her posts and short stories. As always I’ll be sharing her links at the end of this post and I highly recommend that you head on over to her page and check it out for yourselves, but please do stay here and meet her first before you head off there.

Let’s start by introducing you all to this lovely lady.

Photo courtesy of Val Portelli

The author’s pen name Voinks began many years ago. It started as a joke when a friend bought a holiday home abroad, then gradually spread through the family, so it was an obvious choice when her first book was published.

Despite receiving her first rejection letter aged nine from some lovely people at a well-known Women’s magazine, she continued writing intermittently until a freak accident left her housebound and going stir crazy.

To save her sanity she completed and had published her first full length novel. This was followed by a second traditionally published book before deciding self-publishing was the way to go. In between writing her longest novel to date at over 100,000 words, she publishes weekly stories for her Facebook author page and web site.

She writes in various genres, although her short stories normally include her trademark twist of ‘Quirky.’ From having too many hours in the day, she is now actively seeking out a planet with forty-eight-hour days, to have time to fit in all the stories waiting to be told.

She is always delighted to receive reviews, as they help pay for food for the Unicorns she breeds in her spare time.

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Val’s latest book is called Spirit of Technology and it’s  currently got a 4.8 out of 5 rating over on Amazon so surely that means it’s worth a look. See what you think.


A message from a stranger. A modern day woman responds to an e-mail from an unknown contact. Against her better judgement she continues the correspondence with a man who tells her he was born in the 19th century. Despite feeling an initial attraction, her concerns grow when he reveals secret details of her personal life. Undecided whether it's a friend winding her up, and worried it could be a stalker, the truth is the last thing she expects.

I know it’s a very short blurb but it’s grabbed me!

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Welcome to The Hippo Val, pull up a chair and make yourself at home!

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
My books, blog and Facebook author page are under my pen name ‘Voinks.’ It had been a nickname for some years, and seemed a natural choice when my first book was published. I know some authors use pseudonyms when writing in different genres, but my original idea was to keep the very private ‘me’ distinct from the public ‘me.’ I’ve now realised that it’s not very memorable and am dithering over dropping it, although it has the advantage of being original.   

What other authors are you friends with and how do they help you become a better writer?
Great question. I’ve become online friends with many writers, and have met up with some. One in particular has become invaluable, helping me put together a book cover, (I might need to rephrase that as ‘ex-friend’ with all my recent demands on her time.)
I belong to several writer’s groups and it’s fascinating reading other writer’s work. It clarifies the areas I need to address in my own manuscripts, and there is always something new to learn from them. 

What’s your favourite under-appreciated writer/book?
There are several old books which have stayed in my memory over the years, including The Story of O, The Kappillan of Malta, and 20th Century short stories, amongst others, but readers will probably have never heard of some of my recent favourites. I have a small collection of signed copies from Indie authors who deserve greater recognition. It would take too long to list them but some self-published books are far superior to the hyped-up ‘must reads’ with extensive marketing budgets.   

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
This question made me smile. When I showed my late mother some of my earlier stories and asked her opinion, she thought for a moment then just replied ‘Quirky.’ I like to throw in an unexpected twist to keep readers interested.  

I’ve noticed this when I’ve read your stories and I think it’s one of the reasons I keep coming back to read more.

Do you often hear from your readers and what do they say?
It’s tremendously motivating to receive responses, both from regulars and strangers. One comment I particularly remember was from a reader living in Syria. She said how much she loved and anticipated the weekly stories on my author page, and sat down with her children on Friday evenings so they could read them together. I can’t imagine the devastation of their daily lives, but I must admit I reached for the tissues after reading that comment.  

I can see why that particular left a lasting impression on you Val, I can imagine you must have felt very humbled by that.

If you could spend time with a character from your book who would it be and why? What would you get up to?
I’ve always had a soft spot for Reno, the main male character in my first book ‘Changes’. He’s tall, dark and handsome, decent but a bit of a bad boy. What would we get up to? Mind your own business!
I’m so pleased you’ve mentioned your book, Changes, as I watched the book trailer before we started our chat and it certainly looks like a tale with a twist! Lovely readers you can watch it here.

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?
I breed Unicorns in my spare time.

Describe yourself in five words.
Private, gregarious, serious, daft, inquisitive.  

You can find out more about Val, her books and connect with her using the links below:

I'd like to say a big thank you to Val for taking the time to hang out with me and chat today. It's been a pleasure to host you and I hope that you'll come back to The Hippo again one day. šŸ˜‰

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