Please join me in welcoming author Hannah Fielding back to my blog. Her book, Indiscretion, came out in April and in August, she will release the second book in the series, Masquerade.
Where were you born and where do you call home?
I grew up in a rambling house in Alexandria, Egypt, and my bedroom windows overlooked the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. I could see up to the harbour. At any time of day when I looked out of my windows, there was beauty in the scenery. That is where I first experienced the blazing dawns and sunsets, the brilliant azure sky and the ever-changing colours of the sea – silver under the moonlight, almost purple and orange in the early morning or the evening, deep blue in autumn, angry grey in winter and almost turquoise in the spring and summer.
Today, I split my time between my homes in England and France. In England, I live in a Georgian rectory in Kent, surrounded by grounds and forests. In France, I have a renovated farmhouse in the Riviera, which has breathtaking views of the ocean that remind me of my childhood home.
What or who inspired you to start writing?
My grandmother was a published author of poetry and my father published a book about the history of our family, so writing runs in my veins. I guess I always knew that one day I would follow in those footsteps and forge my own path in that field – a subconscious dream which finally came true.
To quote Anais Nin: “If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write.” I do all that. Writing is my life.
Inspiration comes from so many sources. From the books I read, the plays I see at the theatre, the movies I watch, the art galleries I visit – but most importantly for me, from my extensive travels. Each of my books has an evocative, exotic setting that I know well from my own experiences, and my aim is always to transport my reader to another world so that they can see, smell, feel, hear and taste everything in that place.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think it was the day I first held my debut novel, Burning Embers, in my hands. It was the culmination of so many years of writing and dreaming, a special moment indeed.
But holding a book is passive, and the truth is that being a writer is active – so since that moment, every day that I think about a plot of character, or plan a chapter, or sit and craft a paragraph, I tell myself, ‘This is it. I am a writer.’ And that lights up such a warm glow inside.
Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like?
I write every day. Writing is my life and also a job – a very enjoyable job.
I wake up very early, and do my chores first thing. After a cup of passion-fruit tea, in the morning I start off by looking at my online marketing on Twitter and Facebook for an hour or so. Then most days I sit at my desk and work through the day, with an hour for lunch and errands. I take some time in the afternoon for a long walk on the beach or in the countryside when I’m dreaming up a plot, but otherwise I stick to a strong work ethic and write according to my plan.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I am a thorough planner. Having researched my facts thoroughly, I plan my novel down to the smallest detail. Planning ahead, I have found, makes the writing so much easier and therefore so much more enjoyable.
Please tell us about your current release.
Indiscretion is the first book in the Andalucian Nights Trilogy, the saga of a Spanish aristocratic family that spans 70 years, from 1950 to the present day. It is the story of a young woman’s journey of discovery that takes her to a world of forbidden passion, savage beauty and danger.
The setting is spring 1950. Alexandra de Falla, a half-English, half-Spanish writer, abandons her privileged but suffocating life in London and travels to Spain to reunite with her long-estranged family.
Instead of providing the sense of belonging she yearns for, the de Fallas are riven with seething emotions, and in the grip of the wild customs and traditions of Andalucia, all of which are alien to Alexandra. Among the strange characters and sultry heat of this country, she meets a man who awakens emotions she hardly knew existed. But their path is strewn with obstacles: dangerous rivals, unpredictable events, and inevitable indiscretions.
What does Alexandra’s destiny hold for her in this flamboyant land of drama and all-consuming passions, where blood is ritually poured onto the sands of sun-drenched bullfighting arenas, mysterious gypsies are embroiled in magic and revenge, and beautiful dark-eyed señoritas hide their secrets behind elegant lacy fans?
Indiscretion is a story of love and identity, and the clash of ideals in the pursuit of happiness. Can love survive in a world where scandal and danger are never far away?
What inspired you to write this book?
My romance with Spain began when I was in my early teens after I saw a film called The Pleasure Seekers. The wonderful setting and atmospheric music made me dream and triggered my imagination.
Then I visited that beautiful country and it captured my heart. Spain has a rich culture and an ancient, varied history. It is a land of drama. The people are intense; their culture, their music, their traditions personify passion and fire. They are never in a hurry. If you don’t make it today, there is always mañana, tomorrow… life is lived to the full. The Spanish seem to be totally in tune with James Dean’s immortal words, ‘Live as if you’ll die today.’ All in all a country after my own heart… the seeds for Indiscretion were sown!
If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?
My next book, Masquerade, is the sequel to Indiscretion and it will take my readers to the next generation of the Rueda and de Falla families. It is set in the second half of the seventies and is the story of Luz, Alexandra’s daughter, living in the New Spain, which has opened its borders to outsiders and is preparing to enter the European Union. It is set in a different era to that which Alexandra was thrown into, but one that nevertheless has its own problems. More fiery emotions, more colourful traditions, more outlandish ritual and a passionate love story to enjoy. Here’s the blurb:
Love, mystery and desire under the scorching Spanish sun. A young writer becomes entangled in an illicit gypsy love affair, pulling her into a world of secrets, deception and dark desire. Summer, 1976. Luz de Rueda returns to her beloved Spain and takes a job as the biographer of a famous artist. On her first day back in Cádiz, she encounters a bewitching, passionate young gypsy, Leandro, who immediately captures her heart, even though relationships with his kind are taboo. Haunted by this forbidden love, she meets her new employer, the sophisticated Andrés de Calderón. Reserved yet darkly compelling, he is totally different to Leandro but almost the gypsy’s double. Both men stir unfamiliar and exciting feelings in Luz, although mystery and danger surround them in ways she has still to discover.
Masquerade is available for preorder now and it publishes in early August 2015.
Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?
In my home in Kent, I write in a wood-panelled room, surrounded by books – we call it the library. In France, I write overlooking the most fabulous view of the Mediterranean from a large picture window in my bedroom, or if it is not too hot, outside in our gazebo. I really can’t complain!
Do you have an all-time favorite book?
Mary Margaret ‘Mollie’ Kaye (1908–2004) has been one of my favourite writers since I read her worldwide best-seller The Far Pavilions in the early 1980s. She has been an inspiration to me in my writing, because, like me, she was a traveller at heart and she wrote wonderfully descriptive stories set in exotic locations that really transport you to far-off lands. Her stories transport you to a time and a place as if you are there and then. If you have not read her books, I do recommend them… pure escapism… pure romance. See http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1040250.M_M_Kaye.
Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.
I once unwittingly snubbed Richard Burton – husband of Elizabeth Taylor – at a party I’d sneaked into. In my defence, I was only fourteen! It was at film festival in Montazah, Egypt. My family were summering there in our cabin, and my sister, cousins and I hatched a plan to sneak into a nearby hotel where Hollywood icons were attending a reception. Having climbed through a window, we made our way into the party and began hunting for our favourite heart-throbs from the silver screen. My sister asked Roger Moore for a kiss (his response: ‘But, baby, I’m married.’) and Robert Conrad signed an autograph. But it was Gardner Mackay, star of Adventures in Paradise, that I most wanted to meet. So I asked a man in a tuxedo whether he knew where I could find Mr Mackay.
‘Why do you want to speak to him?’ the man asked.
I explained that I was a huge fan.
‘And what about me?’ he demanded. ‘I’m Richard Burton.’
I had no idea who he was, and politely took my leave. If only I had known!
Indiscretion is the new novel from award-winning romance novelist Hannah Fielding. Written in Fielding’s signature style, infused with an old-school Hollywood glamour, Indiscretion evokes the drama and passion of 1950s post-war Spain.
1950’s London. Alexandra, a young writer is bored of her suffocating but privileged life amongst the gilded balls and parties of Chelsea. Keen for an adventure, Alexandra travels to Spain to be reunited with her estranged Spanish family on a huge estate in Andalucía.
Arriving in sun-drenched southern Spain for the first time, Alexandra is soon caught up in the wild customs of the region. From bull fighting matadors and the mysterious Gypsy encampments in the grounds of the family’s estate, to the passionate dances of the region and the incredible horsemanship of the local caballeros, Alexandra is instantly seduced by the drama and passion of her new home.
When Alexandra inevitably falls for Salvador, the mercurial heir to her family’s estate and the region’s most eligible man, she finds herself entangled in a web of secrets, lies and indiscretion. Alexandra soon falls prey to scheming members of her own family, the jealousy of a beautiful marquésa and the predatory charms of a toreador, all intent on keeping the two lovers apart.
But nothing can prepare Alexandra for Salvador’s own dangerous liaisons with a dark-eyed Gypsy.
Can Alexandra trust that love will triumph, or will Salvador’s indiscretion be their undoing?
About the Author
Hannah Fielding is an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: writing full time at her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breath-taking views of the Mediterranean.
To date, Hannah has published three novels: Burning Embers, ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’, set in Kenya, 1970; the award-winning Echoes of Love, ‘an epic love story that is beautifully told’ set in turn-of-the-millennium Italy; and Indiscretion, her fieriest novel yet, set in 1950s Spain.