Kelly Vero travelled the world working in gaming and production but it was not until setting foot in Malta that she found a place to call home.
Now, the woman who helped created Tomb Raider’s protagonist Lara Croft is writing a series of crime stories based on the island.
Written in English, her first book in the series – Summer Girl – includes tag phrases like hux, ħi and mela, food items including Ċisk, fenek moqli and ħobż, and several notes about Maltese culture.
“It has bits of the Maltese language, bits of the Maltese landscape and bits of the Maltese customs. I love laħam imtektek, so I couldn’t leave that out,” says Ms Vero, beaming.
I hope readers will want to come to Malta when they read the book
With her cropped, fair hair and tall stature, the 40-year-old from Nottingham looks like she just dropped out of one of the video games she helps design.
Ms Vero said that as well as Tomb Raider she helped create and worked on the Transformers videogame and film. She has also co-written storylines for Coronation Street and Eastenders, among others, and formed part of the publicity team for the MTV series The Osbournes.
Her expression softens when she speaks about Malta.
“I am a Maltaphile. I have had a strong connection with the island ever since I got off the plane at Malta International Airport 18 months ago.
“I’ve lived in Los Angeles, Tokyo, Germany and Australia but it felt as if my shoulders could drop when I got here. I could relax. I just knew Malta was my home.
“Malta has just the right amount of entertainment, culture, urban and rural life.
“I must admit, however, that I never wanted to come to Malta. I didn’t want to go to a place full of British people, hux!”
Ms Vero came to Malta to work as a writer and creative producer with TRC Family Entertainment.
Inspired by the Commissario Montalbano TV series, in June she sat down to start a series of crime stories based in Malta called Blood for Blood, with the main character – a detective, vampire and Knight of Malta all-in-one – called Jack Sant.
The original story brewing in the author’s mind was set in Venice but everything fell in place when she started setting it in Malta.
“The more I thought about Jack Sant, the more Maltese he became.”
The series will include eight books, set in Valletta, Marsascala, Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq and Paceville among others, and Ms Vero is planning to turn them into a live-action format.
“I picked places I love. In the UK, I have one favourite place that I keep going to but in Malta I have so many favourite places.
“And there is so much to include in your stories... the food, the language, town gossip.
“When you walk around Malta you can feel the salty breeze, smell the humid walls, go down a maze of streets where no one lane looks like another,” she romanticises.
“I didn’t want to be another expat who writes a book about Malta and I hope readers will want to come to Malta when they read the book.
“But what I really want to do is turn it into a TV series or a movie. I really want to help put Malta on the map,” she says.
Ms Vero has already started writing the screenplay and believes there are talented people that could take this series from the bookshelf to TV screens.
“We have so many fine artists who do not get enough exposure and have to leave the island to develop their skills.”
In the meantime, she says, she will keep on writing because “writers just cannot stop writing, m’hemmx x’tagħmel”.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us