The Girl from Portofino | The dramatic tale of an Italian resistance-fighter

The Girl from Portofino
(Girls of the Italian Resistance: A collection of standalone novels set in Italy during World War 2)
By Siobhan Daiko

In 1970 Gina Bianchi returns to Portofino to attend her father’s funeral, accompanied by her troubled twenty-four-year-old daughter, Hope. There, Gina is beset by vivid memories of World War 2, a time when she fought with the Italian Resistance and her twin sister, Adele, worked for the Germans.
In her childhood bedroom, Gina reads Adele’s diary, left behind during the war. As Gina learns the devastating truth about her sister, she’s compelled to face the harsh brutality of her own past. Will she finally lay her demons to rest, or will they end up destroying her and the family she loves?
A hauntingly epic read that will sweep you away to the beauty of the Italian Riviera and the rugged mountains of its hinterland. “The Girl from Portofino” is a story about heart-wrenching loss and uplifting courage, love, loyalty, and secrets untold.
Trigger Warnings:
The brutality of war, death, war crimes against women.
Available on KindleUnlimited.

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Delighted to have you here on Author Chats, Siobhan. Tell us a little about your writing process…
Does writing energize or exhaust you and how do you wind down / recharge?
When I’m buzzing with a story in my head, I wake up in the early hours thinking about it. If I’m writing action scenes I find writing energizing. Emotional scenes take a lot out of me. Many hours at the computer can be extremely tiring, but if I feel I’ve achieved what I set out to do, I feel exhilarated.
I wind down with a glass of wine and flop in front of the T.V.
What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the real people on whom I base my characters. My heroine, Gina, and her twin sister, Adele, in The Girl from Portofino, are entirely products of my imagination. But my hero is inspired by a real person, a British submariner, James Frederick Wilde, who escaped from a POW camp after Italy’s armistice with the Allies and fought with the Italian resistance until the end of World War 2. I found his story truly inspirational.
How important is working with your editor or beta readers, and how would you describe your relationship?
I have a wonderful relationship with my editors and beta readers. My first port of call is John Hudspith, with whom I have been working since 2014. I send him each chapter as I write it. Sometimes, he suggests massive improvements, even rewriting sections. Most of the time, I’m relieved when I only need to make a few tweaks. I have six beta readers who read the chapters after I’ve applied John’s edits. Having someone read as a reader, not as an editor, is essential for me, and I appreciate their feedback on my characters and emotional aspects of my stories. Finally, Trenda Lundin, content editor, reads through the entire manuscript as a whole and points out any inconsistencies which might need fixing. It’s a great team and I couldn’t work without them.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
The series of books I’m writing now based on true events in Italy during World War 2 requires a massive amount of research. I’ve chosen to base each book on what happened in a different part of the country where I’ve made my home. I love doing research and spend a couple of months reading a vast array of material before I make a start on outlining the story. I know Venice and the Veneto well as I live there, so the locations for “The Girl from Venice” are a part of my landscape. I decided to write “The Girl from Portofino” after reading about the German occupation of the village. My husband, and I went there for a week last summer and I fell in love with the place. We even drove up into the Apennines to research the area where the partisans operated. I’m thinking of setting the next book in Bologna and the surrounding area as I know it quite well, but that will depend on what I’ll unearth during my research.
And more about your latest book, the Girl from Portofino. What was your work schedule like when writing this book?
I have the same work schedule for all my books. When I’m writing, I write every day to fuel my creativity. My story must consume me, or I’ll lose interest. I’m always thinking up ways to make life difficult for my characters. I self-edit as I write, which slows down the process—but I find that works best for me. Once I’ve finished a chapter, I self-edit it again before sending it to my developmental editor for his feedback. I try to write one thousand words a day. Sometimes it can take me all day, other times only a few hours. I start mid-morning, take a break for lunch, then write until the evening unless husband and I are invited out or we need to run errands, do housework, play with my dog and cats, or have houseguests, etc.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I do read my reviews as I find I can learn from most of them. Some reviews are more helpful than others, of course. It’s great when readers let me know they’ve liked a book as that encourages me to carry on writing. If a reviewer is picky and gives valid reasons for not liking a book, either I didn’t write the book they wanted to read or there is room for improvement. I always try and make the next book better than the last.
How long did it take you to research and write this book; were there any “wrong turns” along the way?
The research for “The Girl from Portofino” took about two months and informed the creation of the outline for my story. The actual writing of the book took nearly three months. During that period, we had three lots of houseguests, so I had some days off. I changed/adapted the outline as the story theme developed.

Siobhan Daiko is a British historical fiction author. A lover of all things Italian, she lives in the Veneto region of northern Italy with her husband, a Havanese dog and two rescued cats. After a life of romance and adventure in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK, Siobhan now spends her time, when she isn’t writing, enjoying her life near Venice.

Thanks so much for visiting! Connect with Siobhan on social media, and find out more about her wonderful books. 
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