Author Q & A: Val Portelli and Paula Harmon

TJ: Hello! Welcome to Author Spotlight where both new and veteran authors share a little about themselves and their work. It is my pleasure to present not one, but two authors, Val Portelli and Paula Harmon. Let’s get into it. Care to tell readers us about yourselves?


Hi Tammy

I know you enjoy fantasy and as Paula and I wrote a book of fantasy short stories together, we thought it might be fun to give you double trouble. 

Val Portelli: I was born in South London, lived in various parts of the South East while I was growing up, including 2 years in Surrey, and the majority of my childhood in Bromley, Kent which is now classed as London. The first flat of my own was in a London suburb, and I’ve now settled in a house which is still in London but recognised as on the borders of Kent. (Do you see a pattern here?)

I’ve always loved dogs (there’s even one in my latest book) but now have to settle for the foxes who have adopted me, and the unicorns who live at the bottom of the garden.

Paula Harmon. I like to say I was born in North London and bred all over the place! My parents moved from Hendon to Bedfordshire before I was two. Then we moved to Berkshire, then South Wales. I went to university in Chichester and settled in the West Country. I now live in North Dorset and if I can count husband and adult children and currently a lodger stuck with us during lockdown as pets… there you go.

TJ: What inspired you to become a writer?

VP: Can you be born with writer’s blood? My first rejection letter was from a women’s magazine when I was about 9 or 10 so I think there’s some ink in my veins. The catalyst to start taking it seriously was when a freak accident left me bed-bound for a year, but gave me the time and opportunity to pursue a dream which otherwise might never have happened.

PH: I always wanted to be one, from the moment I started telling myself and my little sister stories. I grew up surrounded by books and marginal chaos with a father who read anything to us from poetry to science fiction, regardless of whether we had the remotest idea what it was about. So I absorbed stories and images and adventures from a very early age. Partly due to all the moving, I was a shy child and often bullied. I became pretty much a loner, but in my imagination I could be anyone, doing anything and getting the upper hand and my internal world and the stories I wrote were much more fun than reality most of the time. I didn’t really do much about it because life got in the way, until after my father died and an old school friend turned up at his funeral. She’d been someone who’d understood the creativity and she’s now a writer herself. She encouraged me to actually do something about all those ideas and here I am now, eight and a bit years later having taken her advice and published a number of books.

T.J. If you could meet any person dead or alive, who would it be and why?

VP: Elvis Presley. I fell in love with him when I first heard him as a child, and even all these years later I still go gooey when I see his photos or hear his voice. I believe he was also a very genuine, humble person and I’d have loved to get to know the actual individual behind the superstar persona. I think we would have got on well, but it must have been difficult for his actual friends towards the end.

PH: I’d love to spend time with Ruth Goodman the historian and live like a Victorian or Edwardian or Roman or whatever with a real enthusiast. If I’d had any sense I’d have studied history at university and maybe I’d be doing her job!

T.J: You have a new book coming out. Can you tell readers about this series?

VP: ‘Alderslay’ is a change of genre for me, and expected to be a stand-alone. It’s a psychological horror/mystery which has been on the back burner for several years, so I’m pleased to have finally got there. Next on the agenda is to develop two of my existing romance/women’s fiction books into a two or three-part series as their characters have started screaming for attention after being neglected for so long.

An old house. A new start. Ancient secrets. 

When Gina stumbles across the remote, dilapidated mansion she’s convinced it will make the perfect home for when she and her fiancé Paul settle down together. At first he supports the venture, but his frequent absences are a cause for concern, especially when the renovations reveal skeletons from the past. Is local man Steve a prospective business partner or looking for something more? Why are the normally reticent villagers prepared to accept her as one of their own? As more uncanny coincidences link Gina to the gruesome history of the house, she must decide where her future lies, and if she is prepared to pay the final price.

PH: My latest book is called ‘Murder Saturnalia’. It’s the third in a series set in 2nd Century Roman Britain. The characters are all Britons and it’s a kind of classic golden age murder mystery with a bit of humour. This particular book is set in a fictional town in what’s now Dorset during a winter so cold the river has frozen over. The first book in the series featured a completely self absorbed woman called Lucretia who’d do pretty much anything to become even richer. The third, while it includes her, also features her nephew Fabio who’s trying to avoid being married off.

AD 192 in South West Britain. Escaping his Aunt Lucretia’s efforts to marry him off even to shy Adriane, Fabio joins his friend Petros for an undercover operation in the small town of Vademlutra where rebellion is rumoured. Convinced all he has to do is pretend to be poor and spend time in the tavern, his plans are thwarted by the discovery of a lost young woman in the woods. Unaware of Fabio’s location, Lucretia also arrives in Vademlutra to spend time with Adriane’s family for the Roman festival of Saturnalia and pursue her own agenda. With the town cut off by snow, even Dun, the ex-grave-robber is dismayed when an unexpected death makes him realise that diversifying might not have been a good idea. As Saturnalia passes and the darker traditions of winter solstice approach, Fabio, Petros, Adriane and Dun must put aside their differences and work together to save not only another life but the whole town from Roman retribution.

TJ: Wow! These books sound so amazing.  Thank you for visiting my blog. Hope to have you back again!

VP: Thanks for having us, Tammy. It’s been great meeting you and catching up with Paula. Although our independent books are very different, who knows if we might consider co-authoring something in the future? Paula? Come back! I was only kidding. I never knew you could run that fast. 😁

Where to follow

Val Portelli:



Twitter: @valportelli




Paula Harmon

Where to buy (author’s) books:

Val Portelli:

Paula Harmon:

Science Fiction, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Paranormal Women’s Fiction and Speculative Fiction authors. Do you have a new book you’d like to promote here for free? Would you liked to be interviewed? Contact me through my contact page with your name, links to your author page and/or website, and email.

©TJ Deschamps 2021

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