Friday, April 14, 2017

*Interview* with author Hannah Fielding

Interview with author Hannah Fielding

1.  Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Alexandria, Egypt, a city founded in the year 332 BC by order of Alexander the Great, a Greek king of Macedonia.

I went to a convent school, and after I graduated with a BA in French literature, my international nomadic years started. I lived mainly in Switzerland, France and England, and holidayed in other Mediterranean countries like Italy, Greece and Spain. 
I met my husband in London at a drinks party: it was love at first sight, just like in the romance books that were my constant companions. We settled in a Georgian house in Kent where I brought up our two children, while looking after horses and dogs and running my own business renovating rundown cottages.
My children have now flown the nest and my husband and I spend half our time in our Georgian rectory in Kent and the rest in our home in the South of France, which overlooks the Mediterranean.

2.  How long have you been writing?
Behind closed doors, for as long as I can remember! But my debut novel, Burning Embers, was published in 2012, and since then I have published four more novels.

3.  Tell us about your books. 
My most recent novels are the Andalucían Nights trilogy:
Spain – and Andalucía in particular – is a land of flamboyance and drama. The weather also reflects this exuberance: all year azure skies, dazzling sunshine and sweetly fragranced gardens… colour, romance, emotion. The people are intense; their culture, their music, their traditions personify passion and fire. Where better to set a family saga that spans three generations, from 1950 to the present day?
My romance novel Indiscretion is set in the 1950s. General Franco’s regime was in full swing in Spain. The book poses a question: Can love survive in a world where scandal and danger are never far away? Alexandra feels torn between her two heritages, her two families, and two different ways of life. Her attempt to reconcile these is one of the main themes of my novel.
Masquerade is set in the second half of the seventies. Franco is dead and the nation is reborn. Spain has opened its borders to outsiders and is preparing to enter what is now the European Union. Luz, Alexandra’s daughter and the heroine of Masquerade, has a much more emancipated attitude to life. Masquerade is a story of forbidden love, truth and trust, and it poses a different question: Are appearances always deceptive?
In Legacy, the final (forthcoming) book, the story takes place in the present day and Spain has changed out of all recognition. It is a much more liberal country. However, the problems the hero and heroine have to face, the hurdles they must overcome, are of a more complex nature and are almost more challenging.

4.  Do you have a certain writing process or routine?
I have a very rigid routine which has served well. Once I am ready to write, I follow a daily routine that ensures I spend plenty of time writing and editing the previous day’s writing, fuelled with fruit tea.
In winter I write indoors in my office, at a big wooden desk overlooking the back lawn where sometimes I see wild rabbits hopping about. In summer I write outdoors when I can – in the gazebo in Kent, or on the terrace in France – because I love the smells and sounds and sights of nature. If I want a change of scene, I take my notebook to a garden overlooking the sea, a meadow carpeted with wildflowers or a cafe bustling with people where I can find the description for one of my characters.
It usually takes me nine months to write a book from the moment I begin my research to the time I write the word END at the bottom of the last page… It’s a bit like having a baby!  

5.  What has been your favorite book to write so far?  Least favorite?
Masquerade is my favourite so far, because I really enjoyed the art symbolism in the book (the heroine, Luz, is writing a biography of a famous Spanish Surrealist). I love art myself, and it was wonderful to have an excuse to immerse myself in this field.
Indiscretion, the first book in the Andalucian Nights trilogy, was my hardest challenge, because my heroine, Alexandra, was living in a society in which she was extremely restricted. In 1950s Spain, women had very few rights; they were essentially expected to be good little wives and mothers and nothing else. I always write strong, independent heroines with careers, so it was a challenge to fit Alexandra into this time – until I realised that Alexandra herself would be encountering the same challenge, and so that is how I wrote her: having to walk the line between being herself and conforming to expectations for women.
6.  Did you always know that you wanted to be an author?
The rambling house in which I grew up was built on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean. My bedroom was light and airy and its three windows commanded the most breathtaking views of the ever-changing sea, up to the harbour in the distance, with glowing sunsets and romantic moonlit nights over a scintillating ocean. These spectacular tableaux made my imagination run away and I would dream of princes that flew in from faraway lands on a magic carpet, of princesses dressed in gowns made of sun rays and of moonbeams, and of dragons lurking in those vast blue depths, rising from the waves that crashed against the rocks underneath my windows. I think that although in those days I had not yet formulated it in my mind, I always wanted to become a writer; it was really the only way to live the fascinating tales I dreamt up.

7.  Do you have another job or do you write full time?  
Full time, I am delighted to report! I’ve been writing all my life, keeping a journal and writing stories during my childhood and after I married, while looking after my children, dogs and horses, and running my property company. But I only was able to give writing my full attention once my children had flown the nest and my company was more or less running itself. It’s wonderful to now have the time and space to write daily.

8.  Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
First and foremost, write from the heart. Be true to yourself and don’t compromise to please the market. Market change, fads come and go; your work will remain.
Research your facts thoroughly. A writer today has no excuse for not getting his/her facts right. Use all the tools available to you. Travel, internet, books, films, documentaries; it’s all there to enrich your experience and make your writing journey easier.
Plan your novel up to the smallest detail. This will make your writing so much easier and therefore so much more enjoyable. A plan is your map. Would you set out on a long journey by car without a map?
Read, reread, and reread. Edit, edit, edit. Go through your manuscript again and again and edit it. I know that it will break your heart to delete a phrase or even one word you spent time agonizing over, but sometimes less is better than more. Not easy advice to follow, but in the long run it does work. If you can leave the manuscript alone for a few weeks and revisit it at a later date, reading it as if it were someone else’s, then that’s even better.
Do not get discouraged. Continue to write whether you think your work is good or bad. There is no bad writing. There are good days and bad days. The more you write, the better you will get. 

9.  What do you like to do in your spare time?
Reading: naturally! I read across many genres but I love romantic novels the best. The thicker the book, the better.
Walking: I live part of the year in the south of France, and I love taking long walks on the beach on a sunny day and letting my mind drift. In England I walk in the beautiful Kentish countryside, when weather permits; I’m not one for rain and blustery winds.
Cooking: I love cooking for guests, using the various produce of our vegetable garden: jams, chutneys, stuffed vine leaves (dolmadis), stuffed savoury and sweet filo pastry cushions, stewed fruit for winter crumbles – the list is endless.

10.  Are you working on anything right now?  
I have four books in the pipeline:
First, Aphrodite’s Tears, an intriguing and exciting romance inspired by Greek mythology set on the Greek Islands.

Then a dark story of love and revenge set in Luxor, Egypt, the land of my birth, a world of deeply ingrained customs and traditions, interesting though often cruel.

After that, my readers can look forward to a love story that tackles contemporary women’s problems and is set on the French Riviera and by beautiful Lake Como.
Now I am working on a dark romance set in the beautiful setting of Ireland, the land of fairy-tales and legends.


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.
Hannah is a multi-award-winning novelist, and to date she has published five novels: Burning Embers, ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’, set in Kenya; The Echoes of Love, ‘an epic love story that is beautifully told’ set in Italy; and the Andalusian Nights Trilogy Indiscretion, Masquerade and Legacy – her fieriest novels yet, set in sunny, sultry Spain.

A troubled young journalist finds her loyalties tested when love and desire unearth dark secrets from the past.
Spring, 2010. When Luna Ward, a science journalist from New York, travels halfway across the world to work undercover at an alternative health clinic in Cadiz, her ordered life is thrown into turmoil.
The doctor she is to investigate, the controversial Rodrigo Rueda de Calderon, is not what she expected. With his wild gypsy looks and devilish sense of humour, he is intent upon drawing her to him. But how can she surrender to a passion that threatens all reason; and how could he ever learn to trust her when he discovers her true identity? Then Luna finds that Ruy is carrying a corrosive secret of his own…
Luna’s native Spanish blood begins to fire in this land of exotic legends, flamboyant gypsies and seductive flamenco guitars, as dazzling Cadiz weaves its own magic on her heart. Can Luna and Ruy’s love survive their families’ legacy of feuding and tragedy, and rise like the phoenix from the ashes of the past? 
Legacy is a story of truth, dreams and desire. But in a world of secrets you need to be careful what you wish for…

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