Ashley Lister talks to Portia Da Costa


Portia Da CostaIt would be pointless for me to introduce Portia Da Costa by listing her published titles because there are too many.  The chances are, if you’ve read more than one Black Lace novel, you’ve read Portia Da Costa.  An accomplished author with more than two dozen erotic fiction titles to her credit, Portia has been translated into a variety of languages and been the recipient of numerous accolades and awards.

And, whilst there are a million and one questions I want to ask Portia about her creativity, imagination and impressive time-management abilities, the main area I want to focus on is her character portrayal.

Portia’s erotic fiction is sex-positive, entertaining and raunchy.  Her characters are all individual, well-created and a pleasure to meet.  And those characters keep repeatedly appearing in her fiction, playing cameo roles in Portia’s other novels.

Portia Da Costa: No, I don’t worry too much about changing the layout of the Waverley because I make a point of not pinning the place down too much in terms of the specifics of spatial description. The only thing I’m specific on is the chintz in the décor of the rooms and suites. And I have no idea why I decided the place was going to be chintzy. It just is.

Ashley Lister: The clever trick about these cameo appearances is that they’re such a subtle device. New readers don’t need to have read every Portia Da Costa title to understand the reason for the character being in a particular story. Most likely they’re just going to think they’re reading a very well-rounded minor character. But regular readers can appreciate that familiar characters from previous stories still exist within the story-world you’ve created and are continuing to grow. How do you manage this balance? Is it just fortune and serendipity that allows you to think – this would be an ideal place for Bobby Stone to put in an appearance? Or are you working toward the completion of an overall masterplan?

Portia Da Costa: Ha ha! No masterplans for me, alas. I’ve set four books and a few stories in what I call “Stoneworld” now, but it’s mainly just a happy accident if a scene or situation occurs where a character from a previous book can make an appearance. I try not to make instances of recurring characters turning up seem too contrived. But on the other hand, if I need a certain type of person to appear in a story, and I’ve already got a character like that, why not reintroduce them?

Ashley Lister: When you’re developing a new character for a new novel, does it ever cross your mind that the character will be appearing in future stories?

Portia Da Costa: Not really. Not consciously. Although I suppose I should plan for characters to reappear in other stories, as many readers love series books, linked plots and continuity novels. I certainly do in my own reading.

Ashley Lister: What stories are you currently working on? And can we expect to see any familiar faces in your forthcoming novels?

Portia Da Costa: I’ve just finished the first draft of Kiss it Better, which also takes place in the “Borough” of Entertaining Mr Stone, Suite Seventeen and In Too Deep fame. It’s fairly loosely connected to them though, as the action occurs mainly in a small town on the outskirts of “Stoneworld”. The hero does stay at the Waverley while he’s in the area, and there are some scenes set there and some brief references to former characters e.g. Valentino Guidetti, the hotel’s owner/manager. Some other familiar characters aren’t actually mentioned by name in the story but might be there in the background.

As to whether there will be more “Stoneworld” books or stories, I really don’t know at this stage. I’d like to do some more, eventually, I think. But at the moment, I’m having fun developing entirely new characters and settings.

Find out more about Portia Da Costa at:

Ashley Lister
December ’08 – January ’09

“Between the Lines” © 2008 Ashley Lister. All rights reserved.

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