Monday, 11 October 2021

 Guest Post with Evonne Wareham

Today, I'm delighted to welcome writing friend, Evonne Wareham back to the blog. Evonne is an established author published by Choc Lit of which my publisher, Ruby Fiction, is an imprint. We are both members of the local Cariad Chapter of the RNA and she lives not far from me. Her latest novel, A Villa in Portofino, was published on September 21st.

Welcome, Evonne! Congratulations on the publication of your novel last month. I'm looking forward to hearing more of 'the story behind the story'. Over to you.

Many thanks to Jan for inviting me on to the blog today as part of the blog tour for the third in my romantic suspense series set on the Riviera – A Villa in Portofino.

Writing the Perfect book.

Is there such a thing as a perfect book?

Of course there is, it’s the one in your head when you first sit down with an almost blank piece of paper with two magic words at the top “Chapter One”

If any author has ever managed to get beyond this delightful mirage and write the thing, I’ve never yet met them. If they do exist it would be wonderful to know the secret.

For the rest of us, well, there’s the story you think you are writing and the story you actually get. Not at all the same thing. Once you have begun to write, the book has its own ideas, and as for the characters ... These are people you have created. Surely you should be able to make them behave? Well – all I can say is – Good luck with that.

I’m not claiming that my latest book, A Villa in Portofino, was ever going to come close to the perfect book. I hope it’s the best book that I and my editor can make it, but I have enough experience now to know that the thing will change in the making. And actually this one did, quite a bit.

First off it was going to have a distinctly gothic tone – neglected villa, overgrown garden, mysterious legacy from unknown relative. That lasted about five minutes when I realised that all that darkness and gloom was not going to survive an encounter with the Italian sunshine. And I do like my sunshine. The gothic idea is still in there. Maybe it will emerge one day as a Halloween novella? 

Along with the gothic setting the book was going to have an element of gas-lighting. The term refers to psychological manipulation attempting to make a person think they are insane – a classic creepy horror device. I was going to lean a little more heavily towards unexpected accidents and disturbing vandalism – designed to make Megan want to give up her legacy. This would allow the villainess to buy the villa from her. It didn’t take long for that one to bite the dust either. Organising all that mayhem was going to require a henchman or two and the persona I had in mind for the villainess was of a fastidious and snooty woman who just wouldn’t play into that setup. Gabriella was already taking shape on the page and she would operate in a much more devious way. She has her henchmen, but not the kind who organise accidents - far too unsubtle and quite beyond her to arrange with the domestic setup I had created for her.

In the first plan too the reader would see the villainess but not know who she was. For that I had to create three or four possible female candidates, one of whom would be revealed at the end. That hung on for about the first 10,000 words, by which time I realised that creating even three women with any depth was going to take far too much attention away from the villa and from Megan and Gideon. Back to the drawing board. The other women survived and thrived though, in supporting roles, as Bianca and Alcinda, who became Megan’s friends and Signora Bertolo, Gideon’s landlady. Gabriella reigned supreme as villainess and developed in ways that I had never foreseen.

The perfect book? Or even the book I intended to write? I don’t think so. The restoration of the villa and its garden and Megan and Gideon’s love affair were constants, but the story had its own way in quite a lot of the rest. It doesn’t really matter, as long as the readers enjoy it.

Thank you, Evonne. That's made me want to read your book even more. It's already downloaded onto my Kindle and I can't wait to escape to Italy and immerse myself in Megan and Gideon's story.

Evonne is an award winning Welsh author of romantic suspense - more crime and dead bodies than your average romance. She likes to set her book in her native Wales, or for a touch of glamorous escapism, in favourite holiday destinations in Europe. She is a Doctor of Philosophy and an historian, and a member of both the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Crime Writers’ Association.





 A Villa in Portofino

Third in the ‘Riviera’ Series of romantic suspense: love and mayhem in the sunshine of the French and Italian Riviera

From chambermaid to "got it made"...

When hotel cleaning temp and poetry academic Megan Morrison finds out she's inherited an Italian villa and small fortune from her estranged great-great-aunt Olwen, she doesn't quite know how to react. That is, until she travels to Portofino to see Il Guardino delle Rose for herself. Then she knows exactly what she has to do: live there!

Enchanted by the beauty of the house and gardens, fascinated by the history, and more than a little intrigued by handsome hired landscape gardener Gideon West, Megan can immediately see the villa's potential as a dream home.

But having long-lost relatives sometimes means long-lost secrets - and it seems that Olwen had plenty of those. Could these secrets and a jealous obsession be powerful enough to drive Megan out of the house she's already fallen in love with?

Available as an e-book from



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Thank you for reading. Have your stories changed from the initial idea to the one that readers find behind the cover of the published book? Is there a constant that was there from the very beginning? I'd love it if you commented. Thank you.

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To find about all my books, please visit Jan Baynham Amazon Author Page



  1. Thanks Jan for inviting me onto the blog. It's good to make a return visit with a new book.

    1. It’s a pleasure, Evonne. I’m very much looking forward to reading ‘A Villa in Portofino’.

  2. Enjoyed discovering how your novel evolved. Jessie

    1. Thank you for commenting, Jessie. Yes, it was interesting to see how Evonne’s novel changed.

    2. I don't think I've ever had one change quite so much in the writing process - just shows you how the book takes over.

  3. A great post, Jan and Evonne. I've begun the book and wish I could simply sit down and keep reading it!

    1. Thank you, Jill. I found Evonne’s post interesting, too. Like you, I’ve now started the novel and am enjoying it.