Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hannah Fielding ~an interview and her novel ~ Burning Embers

Hannah Fielding

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: 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.

To date, she has published two novels. 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’. 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.

Q: How would you describe yourself as a color? Think personality here. Are you a light and airy pastel person, or more of a deep, dark, sultry and mysterious color?
A: Red. A deep, bold, striking red. The colour of the blood pounding in veins, of passion, of love, of the setting sun, of the glorious bougainvillea that grows in my garden in the Cote d’Azur.

Q: When you think of a garden, do you picture vegetables or flowers?
A: Flowers, definitely. I’m a keen gardener, and am lucky enough to have large gardens around my homes in England and France. The soils and climates are quite different, and so the flowers at each differ. I especially love the colours in spring and summer in France – they are so vibrant and contrast beautifully with the green of the grass and the shrubs and the brilliant blue of the Mediterranean. I write as often as I can outside, so that I can enjoy the scents and the vibrancy.

Q: What is the sexiest thing on a man?
A: Eyes, most certainly. Which is why I make sure to describe them in my books. For example:
Rafe in Burning Embers: ‘He looked at her with laughing eyes that the morning light had turned golden brown but remained almost as hypnotic as they had been in the moonlight.’
Paolo in The Echoes of Love: ‘She found herself caught up in an intensely contemplative gaze. The dark-blue eyes were mesmerising, almost green in this light. He looked more like Lucifer than ever…’

Q: Did you like school when you were a child?
A: I very much enjoyed the social side of school, and the arts-related subjects. But I attended a strict convent school, and I recall being fairly bored in some subjects. When your dream is to write romance novels, what interest do quadratic equations hold? I took to day-dreaming and wrote short romantic stories to satisfy the needs of a fertile imagination. Having no inhibitions, I circulated them around the class, which made me very popular among my peers. Less so, however, with the nuns…

Q: How do you handle a writer's block?
A: One of my favourite quotes about writer’s block is this: “Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite: ‘Fool!’ said my muse to me, ‘look in thy heart, and write.’”
― Sir Philip Sidney

I have two ways of dealing with writer’s block.

The first one is patience. If you sit there in front of a blank page – and I’ve done that, sometimes for as much as a couple of hours – the muse eventually takes pity on you and visits.

The second one is to get into my car and drive to a place that has inspired me in the past. That also usually works. It might be a garden overlooking the sea, a meadow carpeted with wildflowers if I’m searching for a setting for a love scene, or a cafe bustling with people where I can find a description for one of my characters.

Q: Are you a sit down and play it by ear kind of writer, or do you need a structured guideline, or maybe a little of both?
A: I am a very structured writer. I think after raising my children and running a renovation business it is hard to shake off being organised! I have a very rigid routine which has served me 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. I use my plan as a map. I never set out on a long journey by car without a map, and the same applies to my writing.

Q: Generally speaking, is your work based on real life experience?
A: I studied literature at school and then at university, and a Thoreau quotation always stuck in my mind: ‘How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.’ I always wanted to write, but I did not begin publishing my works until my children had left home because I knew I wanted lots of life experience to put into my writing so that the books were real. I travel to the locations I write about, I walk the streets my characters walk, and I write about the kind of love that I was lucky enough to encounter when I walked into a drinks party in my twenties and met the Englishman who would become my husband.

Q: Do you like to read the genre that you write?
A: Oh yes – every day! On my website I post reviews of the romance books I enjoy the most ( I firmly believe that no one can write unless they also read. That is how we learn. It’s also one of the greatest pleasures in life!

Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m delighted to be sharing the new edition of my novel Burning Embers. It’s a passionate, evocative love story set against the backdrop of wild Africa. I hope you will like the new cover – it really encapsulates, I think, the passion of the book.

Q: Do you have a new book coming out soon? Tell us about it.
A: I do! My next book will publish in April of this year. It’s the first of 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

Q: How can we find you?
A: I’m always delighted to connect with readers:

Coral Sinclair is a beautiful but naïve twenty-five-year-old photographer who has just lost her father. She's leaving the life she's known and traveling to Kenya to take ownership of her inheritance – the plantation that was her childhood home – Mpingo. On the voyage from England, Coral meets an enigmatic stranger to whom she has a mystifying attraction. She sees him again days later on the beach near Mpingo, but Coral's childhood nanny tells her the man is not to be trusted. It is rumored that Rafe de Monfort, owner of a neighboring plantation and a nightclub, is a notorious womanizer having an affair with her stepmother, which may have contributed to her father's death.

Circumstance confirms Coral's worst suspicions, but when Rafe's life is in danger she is driven to make peace. A tentative romance blossoms amidst a meddling ex-fiancé, a jealous stepmother, a car accident, and the dangerous wilderness of Africa. Is Rafe just toying with a young woman's affections? Is the notorious womanizer only after Coral's inheritance? Or does Rafe's troubled past color his every move, making him more vulnerable than Coral could ever imagine?

Though the afternoon sunshine was beginning to fade, the air was still hot and heavy. Coral was struck by the awesome silence that surrounded them. Not a bird in sight, no shuffle in the undergrowth, even the insects were elusive. They climbed a little way up the escarpment over the plateau and found a spot that dominated the view of the whole glade. Rafe spread out the blanket under an acacia tree. They ate some chicken sandwiches and eggs and polished off the bottle of cordial. They chatted casually, like old friends, about unimportant mundane things, as though they were both trying to ward off the real issue, to stifle the burning embers that were smoldering dangerously in both their minds and their bodies.

All the while, Coral had been aware of the need blossoming inside her, clouding all reason with desire. She could tell that he was fighting his own battle. Why was he holding back? Was he waiting for her to make the first move? Rafe was lying on his side, propped up on his elbow, his head leaning on his hand, watching her through his long black lashes. The rhythm of his breathing was slightly faster, and she could detect a little pulse beating in the middle of his temple, both a suggestion of the turmoil inside him. Rafe put out a hand to touch her but seemed to change his mind and drew it away. Coral stared back at him, her eyes dark with yearning, searching his face.

The shutters came down. “Don’t, Coral,” Rafe whispered, “don’t tease. There’s a limit to the amount of resistance a man has.”

“But Rafe…”

A flash of long blue lightning split the sky, closely followed by a crash of thunder. Coral instinctively threw herself into Rafe’s arms, hiding her face against his broad chest. She had always had a strong phobia of thunderstorms. Now she knew why the place had seemed eerie, why there had been no bird song or insect tick-tocks, no scuffling and ruffling in the undergrowth. Even though the skies when they entered the valley had not foretold the electrical storm that was to come, just like with the animals, her instinct had told her that something was wrong. But she had been too distracted by the turbulence crackling between her and Rafe to pay attention to the changing sky.

Rafe, too, was shaken out of his daze and turned his head to see that the sun had dropped behind the mountain. Dense clouds had swept into the valley and were hanging overhead like a black mantle.

“Where did that come from? No storm was forecast for today?” he muttered, jumping up.

There was another tremendous peal of thunder, lightning lit up the whole glade, and again another crash. Then the heavy drops of rain came hammering down against the treetops, pouring down through the foliage.

A wind was starting up. Without hesitation, Rafe folded the blanket into a small bundle and tucked it under his arm. He slung the hamper over his shoulder, and lifting Coral into his arms, he climbed his way up to the next level of the escarpment where a ledge of rock was jutting out and found the entrance to a cave where they could shelter. Coral was shivering. She tucked her face into his shoulder, her fingers tightly gripping his shirt. She was completely inert, paralyzed by fear. They were both drenched.

There was no way they would be able to get back to Narok tonight. Coral knew from her childhood that storms were always long in this part of the country, and through her panic she prayed that he wouldn’t be piloting that little plane back in this howling gale. At least here they were protected from the storm. It was not yet completely dark. Rafe looked around, still holding her tightly against him. Coral couldn’t herself as she sobbed uncontrollably.

“Shush, it’s all right,” he whispered softly in her ear. “It’s only a storm. By tomorrow morning it’ll all be over.” He brushed her tears away as more fell. “I’m going to have to set you down for a moment, Coral. I need to light us a fire and get you out of those wet clothes.”
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