Gabrielle, please tell us a bit about yourself.
A Londoner by birth, I later moved out to Surrey where I attended Nonsuch High School for Girls in Cheam. Being a rather free-spirited person and finding the constraints and curriculum of an all girls’ grammar school a bit too much, I left at 16 (to the probable consternation of my headmistress) and started an apprenticeship in structural engineering in London. However, after not developing much of a passion for designing oil rigs, I decided to return to academic life and studied Sports Science at university to post-graduate level.
During this time, I became a decent runner, gaining an Athletics National Championship (AAA) medal in the 3000m and various vests for road, track and cross-country. I also spent time as a part-time teacher and coach.After having surgery on a calcaneal bursitis and cyst, I decided to retire from athletics and travelled about for a while pursuing other interests, including spending long periods of time in Portugal where my parents were living. I later moved back to London for a few years and then relocated to Somerset, which is where I am now based.
As well as my Buying Property in Portugal books, I have published British Marathon Running Legends of the 1980s, a project that was originally the basis for my MSc dissertation, and which was kindly sponsored by Sir Eddie Kulukundis, and I have also helped Life Coach & NLP Master Practitioner, Midgie Thompson, publish her first book: Winning Strategies for Sports and Life under my publishing name of Gabrielle Lea Publishing.
When I am not writing, I can usually be found in the gym lifting weights and performing a variety of cardiovascular exercise, bodyweight exercises and circuit training. For relaxation, I enjoy nothing more than drinking wine with good friends and going to the odd rock or metal gig.
You recently published a third edition of Buying Property In Portugal – what is the book about?
The book is about the processes and documentation involved when buying property in Portugal, as well as the things that people should consider when seeking to permanently relocate or when buying a holiday home there.
A lot of books have been written about buying property in Portugal, but I think mine goes into a lot more detail and is hopefully a more practical and “street wise” guide than most.
It also includes some case studies from people that have moved there, which not only helps break up the information, but also gives would be property hunters and/or those wishing to relocate a realistic view.
What inspired you to write Buying Property In Portugal?
My family bought a property in the Algarve in 2000, which inevitably meant that I began spending more and more time there.
Due to the fact that I love learning languages and had already learnt Spanish, French and some Italian, I picked up a working knowledge of Portuguese fairly quickly. On hearing that I was conversant in the language, many non-Portuguese-speaking friends and acquaintances started asking me to do them small favours.
While doing this, I visited more than my fair share of local government departments, authorities, utility companies and businesses to sort out various problems, in particular those surrounding property purchases.
I soon began to realise that a fair number of the people I was helping had been caught out by their lack of knowledge of the bureaucracy, and their unfamiliarity with the language. Several of them had also been far too trusting and naïve.
The property world is naturally a cutthroat one and while many purchases go through smoothly, there are others that could only be described as ‘nightmares’!
Little by little, I learnt all about property documents and the processes involved in buying a property in Portugal, and I started to write about the potential pitfalls on various Internet forums.
My reputation for being fairly knowledgeable soon spread and other people started to contact me for help and advice. I was also invited to appear on Kiss FM’s Straight Talk with Phill Gilbert, a phone-in radio show in the Algarve, and later asked to assist with the filming of a TV programme about relocating to Portugal.
It therefore seemed the logical next step to write a book in order to pass on the knowledge that I had gained in this area, and I was lucky enough to get two editions of Buying Property in Portugal published by Bookshaker and Summertime Publishing before releasing this third edition under my own publishing name.
Do you ever experience writers' block? If so, how do you overcome it?
I don’t really suffer from this too much. I suspect it happens more to those who write fiction as opposed to “How To” books. However, there are some days when I just don’t feel like writing or I procrastinate. If I am stuck on a certain chapter or subject area, or just fed up with it, I might leave it for a day or two and start on another section, so at least I feel like I am making progress. I then come back to it later.
Being an ex-athlete, I am also naturally someone who can focus and concentrate for long periods of time, and I have a lot of self-motivation and a strong work ethic.
Do you have any advice for new expat writers?
Once you have an idea, make an outline plan with rough chapter headings and side headings and then just start it. Make a schedule and give yourself a deadline too, and don’t give up on it until it is done! Your schedule and deadline may well slip a bit, but it gives you something to aim for.
It is also best to write about an area you are either very passionate about or have a lot of knowledge of – preferably, both!
If your grammar and spelling aren’t perfect, you will also need to employ an editor and/or proofreader. Nothing is worse than reading a badly edited book with lots of errors. There will be always be the odd typo even in the finished version, but you do not want your work to be riddled with mistakes or hard to read.
After a few read-throughs, you also become totally word blind and a fresh pair of eyes on your work is crucial.
Are you working on any other books at the moment? Do you have any ideas for future work?
I am currently having a bit of a break before starting work on a new project. Due to my love of fitness and my bugbear of people putting limits on themselves due to age, I am potentially looking to write more in this area in the future. Watch this space!
Finally, where can readers buy your book, and do you have a website and social media profiles where they can follow you?
You can buy my book on Amazon in paperback format or in electronic formats on Amazon Kindle and itunes via the following links:
My own website is www.gabriellecollison.com where you can also find links to my social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.