Book locations

A book blogger mentioned recently about running a series on books set in specific locations.
It started me thinking about my own books, and the times and places where they were set.

ABC Destiny
The date is indeterminate but it follows the story of Delphine, the illegitimate daughter of an English member of the aristocracy, and the French mother who he deserted when she became pregnant. The title arose when I realised the initials of three of the characters’ names, Abigail, Beatrice and Cecelia, followed a pattern. It was slightly spooky when I ‘invented’ the name Delphine, but very shortly afterwards met someone with that name! This book is set mainly in England but incorporates Paris.

The setting for this book is Biggin Hill in Kent, best known for its military airport and the Spitfire and Hurricane planes which could be easily seen by passing traffic. I was brought up about 10 miles away, and was a regular visitor to a Rock and Roll café nearby, where a group played who later supported Bill Haley and Gene Vincent on their UK tours. A local news item about making the ‘village’ more accessible to Bromley and Croydon town centres was part of the inspiration for this book.

This was the original version of my book which later became Summers Changes, Winter Tears. It is mainly set in Malta, and incorporated many of my first memories from visiting the island in the 70s after which it became like my second home.

Summer Changes, Winter Tears.
When my original publishing contract for Changes finished, I brought the book up to date after taking note of my only 2* review which said ‘It just finished.’ They were right – it did.
The only problem was, because it was republished under a different author name (I dropped my original pen name when I realised it was not memorable) and had a new title, I lost all my original 5* reviews. At least I was able to buy up all the remaining stock of paperbacks, which are available for sale at ‘mate’s rates,’ to save them gathering dust.
As my first born, Changes will always have a special place in my heart.

Story of a Country Boy
Set initially in Malta (do we see a pattern emerging here?) in the post war years, it moves through the seedier side of 1960s Soho as the naïve teenager of the early chapters learns about a different way of life.

Listen to Love
This collection of short stories was more about song titles than locations, so I had to have a quick re-read to remind myself where they were based. The answer was everywhere from Las Vegas to different parts of Europe, hotels set in various countries, England and the continent and anywhere your imagination takes you. Is an author allowed to say they had to stop reading their own book as one of the sadder stories had them blubbing?

Spirit of Technology
This story to my mind is set in London, but in a way the location is a computer and the year is free flowing. Read it and you’ll see what I mean.

Weird and Peculiar Tales
I live in London, my fellow author lives in Dorset so it’s not often we can physically get together, but somehow we managed a celebratory meal when we released this book of short stories. The locations are interesting – everything from the bottom of the garden to the back of the airing cupboard.

Two weeks ago I ran a small competition to match my books to their genres. No one got 100% which makes me wonder if I need to do some tweaking. The nearest was the entry by Donna Day so she wins the prize of a copy of the eBook of her choice. Congratulations, Donna.  

Thanks for dropping by and see you again next week.

© Val Portelli March 2022

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