Half Italian and half British, I grew up in South Korea and Hong Kong, and there was no lack of story material. Adventurous family holidays in Indonesia and Cambodia among temples and jungles were interspersed with summer visits to medieval Italian villages and picnics in the New Forest in Hampshire.
Whether experiencing Asian journeys or European family traditions, the story was often in the details and a lot had to do with food.
Growing up eating Korean kimchi and red bean cakes; trying fried lizard (on a trip to Myanmar and very delicious); helping my Italian grandmother roll out pasta; and watching my English grandparents make sausages (not for the faint-hearted) for their butcher shop, I became very aware of the diversity of ingredients and the wonders of local cooking. This is probably why food features in many of my stories.
As for the Victorian ghost stories, those probably have origins in my childhood fascination with Chinese ghost tales and castles around Hong Kong, rumoured to be haunted.
The children's books are a collaboration with my artist mother here in Umbria, in Italy. I write, she paints and we both design the colourful and humorous animal adventures and wizard journeys. Our website is jeantoridesign.com