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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, fantasy author Maria De Fatima Santos shares the inspiration behind her new book, Serendipity, on our YouTube Series.

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Due to issues with the audio on the original video, Maria has provided a full transcript provided below. Maria De Fatima Santos shares what inspired her latest fantasy book, Serendipity, and her creative writing process on our YouTube channel.

Maria De Fatima Santos:



Who are you and what do you do?

So, in a nutshell, I can answer that I am Maria de Fátima, born in Africa, brought up in Portugal. Portuguese is my mother tongue.

 I moved to Scotland for the first time in July 2007.

I fell in love with the English language and with the culture and the natural landscape of Scotland that offered me a seed to write this story. And this love persists to these days.

I received training and developed experience as a carer providing care to different groups of people.

The professional experience as a carer taught me so much about the human condition. At the same time, it gave me a source of inspiration and raw material to write about life with imagination. Because I do believe that real life, real people are always a source of inspiration for any kind of writing.

I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the human richness and valuable professional experience providing care to people with learning disabilities. This experience opened my mind, my heart and my eyes to the value of treating anyone as a unique individual without preconceptions or judgements. We can transfer this skill for writing too.

And the second valuable professional experience was providing living in care. As a living in carer, I could travel to different  locations in England and learn so much from such a diversity of stories and situations that I could witness. From that I could learn flexibility and resilience to deal with life. In my point of view, this is another valuable skill transferable for writing.

What is your latest book called?

Serendipity – A Long Journey Starts with a Small Step is the name of my book that is going to be released to the readers on the 22nd July 2024, published by Palavro, an imprint of Arkbound Foundation.

What inspired your story?

Scotland in the first place. Serendipity takes you to Helge’s Hole in Forres, the Hermitage Forest in Dunkeld and Glen Lyon in Perth.

These three real places in Scotland are the sceneries of this story. I visited and photographed these places and the illustrations in the book are inspired by the photos of these places in Scotland.

Love was also my source of inspiration. It is a story of a grandmother’s greater love for a granddaughter, a mother for a daughter and the boundless bounty of the natural realm for each one of us.

I was also inspired by a book I red many years ago about the way of life of the Scottish traveller community. I still recall the title: “Red Rowans and Wild Honey” by Betsy Whyte. It’s an account of her life as a child born in a traveller family. In this book, I learned also about the Cant vocabulary, the language of the Scottish travellers that it’s also integrated in the dialogues of my story.

And what fascinated me it was the strong tradition of oral storytelling, their connection with the natural world and their courage and freedom. 

So this inspired me to learn more about the culture of the Scottish Travellers. 

What inspired your main characters?

Although it’s a fantasy story, in Serendipity the grandmother, Julia, telling a story to her granddaughter was inspired by the memory of my own grandmother telling a story to the little girl that I was.

The beginning of the story starts with a sky covered by a mantle of fog. I can read to you these sentences from the opening of the story: “It was a cloudy morning. There was no sun. The sky was covered by a mantle of fog.” This scenario was inspired by the increasing challenges of air pollution in urban and dense populated cities.

For this reason, the girl could not go out to school and to play outdoors with other children. The grandmother starts telling a story to alleviate the sadness of her granddaughter.

This scenario was inspired by what happened during the pandemic  lock downs, when children had to stay at home so many days.

The heroine of this tale is the little traveller girl. To build the psychological profile of this character, I was inspired by the universal characteristics of curiosity, wonder, ingenuous and the gifts of believing and trusting that we associate to what is to be child. 

The character of the elderly musician that is the Guardian Angel of Nature’s Secrets and the Queen Titania that rules the Land of the Young were inspired by the enchanting realm of nature.

What do you love about writing?

Writing allows us to re-create ourselves, to find our voice, to break loneliness and to reach others.

It’s a life-saving too. I do believe that Doctors should prescribe poems and books too. They will do good for health.

To quote Albert Einstein: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”

What is one piece of advice you would give to anybody else who wants to write a book?

Fernando Pessoa, a respected and admired Portuguese poet of the XX century has a quote that I love sharing to encourage other people to find and affirm their voice.

“There are no norms. All people are exceptions to a rule that doesn’t exist.”

My piece of advice is do not underestimate your inspiration and will to write – we know it takes blood, sweat and tears.

Never, never give up, in spite of the voices that may judge you or undermine your confidence. Keep moving forward!

And read, read, read books, look for affordable books, be curious.

When I went to the UK, I found great books in charity shops that were vital for me to fall in love by the English language.

To encourage you, whoever you’re, wherever you’re, I’d like to quote a line of the poem: “O Me! O’Life” by the poet Walt Whitman:


That you are here – that life exists and identity,

that the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

What your verse will be?

Where can we buy your book?

Serendipity is available on the webpage of Palavro Publishing (an imprint of the Arkbound Foundation) on

Available through bookshops and internet booksellers.

Also available as an ebook on Amazon.

Finally, I would like to say a word about the Publisher. Palavro is an imprint of the Arkbound Foundation, a UK literature charity, based in Glasgow and Bristol that supports authors, like me, with a story to tell to have a voice.

I would like to thank as well the Table Read for inviting me on to this interview.

And I would like to thank you too for watching it.

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