I love this country and desperately wanted to write a story that highlighted its historically rich setting and love for family.
I also have a handful of uncanny connections that inspired the choices for Portuguese-Canadian protagonists and the setting.
This story idea took hold of me a few years ago after visiting Portugal for our tenth anniversary. A few key people inspired the trip itself:
My grandparents spent a large part of their retirement in Spain and Portugal. One particular photo from their time there wouldn't leave me alone and I still can see, smell and taste the country from my visits as a child.
Our entirely Portuguese-speaking community group from a few years back helped us fall in love with the people and the culture even further and our newest neighbors were also Portuguese-speaking, and ironically related to a member of this same community. Our daughters became close friends and we were truly inspired by their hearts for family. They immensely helped with crafting some of my characters. (I stole the names Tiago and Glaucia from them.)
I also have another close friend who is from Portugal. He grew up in a small town in northern Portugal and suggested visiting and using Amarante as a setting for the story. His name might be Fernando, and he is thrilled to be "in the book".
And then I met Don, my agent. This story was already written, and I had no clue about his Brazilian and Portuguese connection, but to sign with him and then to have his eyes review the entire story and love it, provided solid confirmation that I was telling an intimate story that would relate to families all over the world, whether in Canada, the US, Portugal, or even Brazil.
My ancestry testing reveals a plethora of European relatives. Although Portuguese genes were not a significant branch, I am passionate about sharing this story well. I also have several thrilled beta readers with Portuguese backgrounds who have read You and Me, Forget 23 ahead of the masses, and have ensured an honest and sincere account of any cultural or geographical references.