6 January 2022

Special Guest Interview with Siobhan Daiko, Author of The Girl from Portofino

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

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.

I'm pleased to welcome author Siobhan Daiko to The Writing Desk: 

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is The Girl from Portofino, the second standalone novel in my Girls from the Italian Resistance series.

In 1970, Gina Bianchi returns to the beautiful Italian resort of 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 partisans and her identical 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 shocking truth about her sister, she’s compelled to face the harsh realities of her own past.

What is your preferred writing routine?

When I’m in the process of writing a book, I try to write every day to keep the momentum going. I prefer to write in the mornings as my ageing mind focuses better. If I need to go out on a writing morning, I’ll write in the afternoon instead—but I’m never as productive.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

I would say not to consider yourself an ‘aspiring writer’. Writers write. There’s nothing ‘aspiring’ about it. First and foremost, write because it fulfils you, makes you happy. It doesn’t matter if no one else reads what you’ve written. You write because it’s as vital to you as breathing. Becoming an author is different. It’s a craft and you should study it. Take courses, read online advice. Practise, get feedback, keep pushing yourself to improve. Develop a thick skin about criticism and learn from it. A negative review can mean you didn’t write the book the reviewer wanted to read, or that there is room for improvement. There are very few perfect books published, but readers aren’t looking for a perfect book—what they want is a good story and interesting characters. Last, but not least, go for it!

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

I have invested in Facebook ads and they have worked well. I also have a growing readers list for my newsletter. And, of course, The Coffee Pot Book Club has raised awareness of my books via their fab blog tours.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research.

I needed a well-known place in which to set the story and hit upon the stunning resort of Portofino. I had no idea before researching what happened there during the war and gave a resounding ‘yes’ when I discovered that it had been occupied by the German Navy as a headquarters for their coastal defences, the SS incarcerated and tortured political prisoners in a tower on the isthmus, the inhabitants of the village were forced to relocate when concrete sea defences were built, and the quaysides were mined for fear of aquatic landings. 

Portofino, known today as a mecca for wealthy tourists, became a target for Allied bombing after the Nazis built anti-aircraft and anti-naval batteries on the headland and the portofinesi lived in fear for their lives. 

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

I can’t answer this question in detail without giving a spoiler. I’ll just say that one of my main characters dies in tragic circumstances. After I’d written the scene, I needed a glass of wine and a hug from my husband.

What are you planning to write next?

I’m planning the next in the series, either The Girl from Verona or The Girl from Bologna. It depends on what I discover in my upcoming research.

Siobhan Daiko

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About the Author

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.  Find out more at Siobhan's website https://siobhandaiko.org/ an dfollow her on Facebook and Twitter @siobhandaiko


  1. Such a great interview. Thank you so much for hosting the blog tour for The Girl from Portofino. We really appreciate all that you do.

    Mary Anne
    The Coffee Pot Book Club

  2. Thank you so much for interviewing me.


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