Props that feature in A Villa in Portofino

 A Villa in Portofino has quite a bit of me in it. As well as being a romantic suspense, it's a book about families. I made use of the idea of the unintentional secrets, and disjointed recollections that occur during five generations of a family, when things are only half remembered or passed down by people who were not actually present. This is the case in my own family and I guess that it's the case with other people too. 

As well as the tricks of memory - maybe as a counterbalance - I included a number of props from my own family history. Set dressing if you like. There isn't going to be a location tour for the book - yet, I do have hopes for the future - so I thought I would do a little 'tour' of the  artifacts that appear on the pages. 

Childhood memories for the first one - some of my own childhood games - probably classed a vintage now! Megan mentions being more interested in finding them in the spare room than the books of poetry that eventually became her doctoral thesis. 

More items from the spare bedroom. Megan assumes that the poetry books were brought back from Italy by her great great uncle Tom, who served in Italy during the Second World War, because they were in the same box as some old postcards of Rome that he brought back. These postcards were part of a large bundle that my father brought back from his war service in Italy with the RAMC. I'm sure he never would have guessed that I would be using them for inspiration in a book. They were really vital in providing some plausible backing for Megan's original theory on the origin of the poems. Thanks, Dad!

You could say that this is where inspiration for A Villa in Portofino began. It's a water colour print by an artist called Luciana Conti that I brought home as a souvenir from a visit to Portofino many years ago. The memory of buying it at a gallery there has stuck in my mind. The painting was an inspiration, but it also gave me the idea for the gallery owned by Alcinda and Bianca.

This watch was my Mum's. It was bought in 1965 in New York - I think it might have been made for her. It's white gold, which my mother preferred, and it still goes. It originally had a much prettier strap, which wore out, and there are two small diamonds decorating the face. My Mum didn't go much for jewelry, but she did like diamonds, a trait she has passed down. I gave the watch a few extra diamonds before I let Megan inherit it from Great-Great Aunt Olwen.  

The American Beauty china that Edith uses when she entertains Megan and Gideon to tea. This too was my Mum's, dating from when she was first married, just after the war. She liked fine china with lots of gold and I remember this coming out on high days and holidays, usually for afternoon tea, all through my childhood. I'm more of a brightly coloured mugs type. I'm not sure, but I think the china was 'seconds' as all the best stuff was being exported to earn much needed currency, but I may be wrong about that. It still looks good to me, and it has those memories attached. 

I'm not quite sure whether this was my mother's writing slope or my grandmother's. They each had one, made my my grandfather after my aunt emigrated to America as a GI Bride and they both used to write to her every week. I only have one, so I don't know what happened to the other. I think this was the one that belonged to my grandmother. It was the inspiration for Olwen and Eluned having one each, made by their grandfather - and of course the contents go a long way to solving some of the mystery of Olwen's life. 

This was what was in my mind when I described the rather scruffy journal that Megan found in the writing slope. It's actually a stamp album that belonged to my Uncle Roy, who died about twenty years before I was born, so it's pretty old and has knocked about a bit, and that was what I wanted for the well-worn household journals. 

Well - that's it - the tour of the A Villa in Portofino artifacts. I hope you have enjoyed seeing some of the things that were my inspiration, and that it has added a little something extra to your enjoyment of the book.