Today’s Featured Author: Hannah Fielding

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.

Interview

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!

Book Blurb

Indescretion coverIndiscretion 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

Portrait of Hannah Fielding and photos of where she writes.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.

You can find out more about Hannah on her website or follow her one Facebook or Twitter.

You can buy Indiscretion on Amazon. Masquerade is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author: Hannah Fielding

Today I welcome author Hannah Fielding to my blog to discuss her latest book, The Echoes of Love.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.  Where were you born and where do you call home?

My memories of my childhood in Egypt could be those of a fairytale: sunshine, azure skies and the ever-changing colours of the cobalt-blue Mediterranean sea. I grew up in Alexandria, the jewel of Egypt’s cities, in a family of pashas and ambassadors who had been part of the exiled King Farouk’s court. I was carefully cosseted in a strict but close-knit, loving family home, surrounded by lush gardens and fragrant orchards.

As a young woman, I travelled extensively, before meeting my husband: it was love at first sight, just like in the romance books that were my constant companions. He brought me to his large Georgian rectory in Kent, England, surrounded by grounds and forests. We still live there for part of the year, and for the rest of our time we go to our renovated farmhouse in the south of France, which has breathtaking views of the ocean.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

My family, without a doubt. I grew up surrounded by books – my parents had them in each room of our house, and I was read to and encouraged to look at books myself from an early age. Plus, both my father and grandmother were published writers, so I had writing in my blood. Add to that a governess with a keen imagination and a determination to sow the storytelling seed in me, and it’s not hard to see why the dream of becoming a writer began to materialise in childhood!

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.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I am currently editing for publication the first book in a fiery trilogy set in Andalucia, Spain, spanning three generations of a Spanish/English family, from 1950 to the present day. It is the passionate story of the de Falla family, some of whom have roots in England, and their interaction with the gypsies. A tale of love, treachery, deceit and revenge a rumbling volcano, set against the fierce and blazing Spanish land, which is governed by savage passions and cruel rules.

Greece is also on the map for a new Hannah Fielding romantic novel. I am now in the process of researching and planning a very dramatic and steamy love story that takes place on one of the many Greek Islands. I chose Greece because I know that captivating country and its people well – I have good Greek friends. I bought my wedding dress in Athens and my husband and I honeymooned on Rhodes Island. Greek mythology was part of the literature course I read at university and Greece is not far from Alexandria, where I grew up.

Do you write full-time? What is your work day like?

I generally do write each week day. I have a very rigid routine which has served well. 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. Then, when I am ready to begin writing, I settle into a regular routine – writing each morning and editing the previous day’s work, taking a break for lunch, writing a little more and then going for a walk somewhere inspirational, like the woods or the beach. Routine, I think, is key – otherwise life gets in the way.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

In England I write in our wood-panelled library surrounded by all my favourite books, and in France I write in my bedroom. Both places have wonderful views over the gardens – and in France I love the backdrop of the azure Mediterranean and sky.

Please tell us about your current release.

The Echoes of Love pbThe Echoes of Love is a touching love story that unfolds at the turn of the new millennium and is set in beautiful, romantic Italy: Venice, Tuscany and Sardinia. It is the tale of two people who have been badly hurt by life and by love and who are trying to love again, but are still haunted by the echoes of those tragedies.

Venetia Aston-Montagu has escaped to Venice to work in her godmother’s architectural practice, putting a lost love behind her. For the past ten years she has built a fortress around her heart, only to find the walls tumbling down one night of the Carnival when she is rescued from masked assailants by an enigmatic stranger, Paolo Barone.

Drawn to the powerfully seductive Paolo, despite warnings of his Don Juan reputation and rumours that he keeps a mistress, Venetia can’t help being caught up in the smouldering passion that ignites between them.

When she finds herself assigned to a project at his magnificent home deep in the Tuscan countryside, Venetia must not only contend with a beautiful young rival, but also come face to face with the dark shadows of Paolo’s past that threaten to come between them.

Can Venetia trust that love will triumph, even over her own demons? Or will Paolo’s carefully guarded, devastating secret tear them apart forever?

What inspired you to write this book?

I first visited Venice as a young child. Then, as now, I was wide-eyed and enchanted by the beauty of the city. I distinctly remember standing in the main square, the Piazza St Marco, gazing up at the stunning architecture of Saint Mark’s Basilica, and feeling I had somehow entered another world – a fairytale world. Then I looked down, at the square itself, which was overrun by hordes of pigeons. There was nothing beautiful about those birds. They were quite spoiling the place. And it struck me then that Venice is a city of two faces: that which the tourists flock to admire, that makes the city the capital of romance, that breathes new life into the imagination and leaves a permanent, inspirational impression. And the other side, the darker side, that which is concealed in what Erica Jong called ‘the city of mirrors, the city of mirages’.

When I returned to the city as an adult, I became quite fascinated by the concept of Venice – what it means to be Venetian; what the city really is beneath the layers of history and grandeur and legend.  Frida Giannini wrote, ‘Venice never quite seems real, but rather an ornate film set suspended on the water.’ I understand this quote – there is something fairytale about the place, and with that comes some reluctance, perhaps, to see the realism beyond.

Venice so captured my imagination that I knew some day I would write a romance novel set in this most elegant and fascinating of cities. But it had to be the right story to fit the place. For me, that meant a story that reflected the two faces of Venice – the mask she wears, and the true form beneath.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

All sorts! Once I have an idea I’m happy with, I ground it in reality by researching carefully the setting for the book – the culture, the era, the fashion, the cuisine, the buildings and so on. I read, I watch movies, I visit museums, I cook national cuisines, I listen to music and I travel to the settings. I very much enjoy that element of the writing process, particularly when I am able to convince my husband that a trip abroad is essential! We had a wonderful long weekend in Venice while I researched The Echoes of Love.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Sometimes a person will spark some inspiration in me. Paolo, my hero in The Echoes of Love, first wandered into my mind when I met an Italian lawyer who was the consummate gentleman, but somewhat tortured beneath the façade, I sensed; and Venetia, the heroine, looks like a lady I once saw in a Venice street. Also, in each of my books you find some kind of wise older character who acts as a guide for the heroine – this is in homage to my childhood governess, Zula, of whom I was so fond.

That said, my books are purely fictional. The stories are of my imagination, not based on my own life or those of people I know. I let my mind take flight.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

The Far Pavilions by MM Kaye. I first read it in the 1980s, and since then my copy has been well-thumbed. MM Kaye 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. The Far Pavilions is like an Indian Gone With the Wind – epic, moving, romantic, sweeping. If you’d like to know more about this writer and book, you can read a blog post I wrote on the subject at http://www.hannahfielding.net/?p=1523.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I’m something of a cook; in particular, I like using home-grown ingredients and, when in France, those I source from the wonderful local markets. I love to entertain family and friends; hosting dinner parties is a lot of work but immensely rewarding. Once a month I have a ‘Discover a Country’s Cuisine Night’ for family or friends, when I cook a three-course meal featuring the specialty of a given country. It’s a great way for me to experience the foods my characters eat in my novels!

About the Author

Portrait of Hannah Fielding and photos of where she writes.Hannah Fielding is a novelist, a dreamer, a traveller, a mother, a wife and 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: she writes full time, splitting her time between her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.

Her first novel, Burning Embers, is a vivid, evocative love story set against the backdrop of tempestuous and wild Kenya of the 1970s, reviewed by one newspaper as ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’. Her new novel, The Echoes of Love, is a story of passion, betrayal and intrigue set in the romantic and mysterious city of Venice and the beautiful landscape of Tuscany.

You can find out mor about Hannah on her website or you can follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

Check out the book trailer for The Echoes of Love which can be purchased on Amazon UK, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.