Today I’m chatting to Val Portelli (Voinks) about writing, her inspirations and the joys of self-publishing. Her latest novel, Spirit of Technology, is out now.
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.
Hi Val! Tell us a little about your writing to date.
I’ve always loved writing but life tended to get in the way. A few years ago a freak accident left me house-bound and going stir crazy. To save my sanity I completed my first novel, which was subsequently published. Changes was a romance, set in my favourite island Malta, and included many nostalgic memories. A second book ABC Destiny followed and was accepted by new publishers. Having learnt a little of the processes involved I took a deep breath, crossed my fingers (which made it rather difficult to type) and decided to self-publish my third book.
Where did your inspiration for Spirit of Technology come from?
My first publisher apologised when something her secretary sent me got ‘lost in the ether.’ It started me wondering what or who else was floating around in cyberspace, and the idea for Spirit of Technology was born.
What are the benefits of being self-published?
Unbitten fingernails! You don’t have all those months of waiting around for a prospective publisher to reply, or not, as the case may be. Retaining control, better royalties, and being able to amend or update your books quickly are also definite advantages.
Personal writing choice: pen or keyboard?
Keyboard. On holiday recently I had to resort to using a pen, and realised I think and type much quicker than I can write.
When do you know a novel is complete?
Is a novel ever actually complete? The more you look the more you want to tweak, but there comes a time when you just have to say enough, resign from the ‘Procrastinators are us’ club, and move on to something new.
Fully paid up member of the ‘PAU’ club here! What is the best part of being an author?
The support and friendship of other authors, bloggers, and the community as a whole. In such a cut-throat world I’ve been amazed at how generous they are, cheering on every small success, encouraging during the down times, and rooting for others every step of the way. Oh, and also the feeling of actually seeing a book, and knowing ‘I wrote that.’
And the worst?
Marketing. My worst nightmare. Naively, I believed authors wrote novels, the publicity fairies made everyone buy it, and the royalties rolled in when people read and loved the book. That’s probably why I write fiction.
Who are your writing heroes?
My bookshelf reveals a range of famous writers, but my prize possessions are a small collection of signed books by virtually unknown Indie authors. I think these would count as my heroes. Against all the odds they’ve succeeded in completing and publishing some great novels.
If you had to be stranded on a desert island with three fictional characters, who would you choose, and why?
My first thought was Harry Potter as some magic might come in handy. William Robinson from the Swiss Family Robinson would be useful for his knowledge and practicality. Finally, Reno from my own book because he’s gawjus, and would help pass the time until I was rescued.
Perfect! What’s next?
My first two books were with small publishers, but I have on the TBD list the mad idea of setting up my own publishing company for my books. How scary is that? I also need to get back to my 100,000-word novel, Murder of Changes which is finished but unedited. In between, I intend to revise and publish a shorter novel, TD; The story of a Country boy, and possibly produce a book of short stories. I also write a new short story every week for my author page and blog, so when I get time I’ll be hunting for a planet with forty-eight-hour days.
Sounds as though you’re going to be very busy – thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions!
Thank you, Emma, for some fascinating questions, and for giving me the opportunity to tell a little of my writing story. Best of luck with your blog.
The author’s pen name Voinks began many years ago. It started as a joke 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.
The completion and publication of her first full length novel helped to save her sanity during those difficult times, and saw the start of her new career. Now firmly hooked, a second traditionally published book gave her the confidence to self-publish her third. 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.
Although her novels tend towards modern fiction with a hint of Romance, her short stories cover various genres including her trademark twist of ‘Quirky.’ From having unfulfilled days, she is now actively seeking out a planet with longer hours, to have time to write all the stories waiting to be told.
She always appreciates reviews as they help spread the word, and sales bring in cash to pay for food for the Unicorns she breeds in her spare time.
Spirit of Technology