Author Q&A: Hannah Fielding
Meet Hannah Fielding, a romance sensation in the UK, who is releasing her books in the US for the first time! Here’s what you need to know about this author to watch.
UK readers love your romances, but many US readers haven’t had the pleasure yet. What are American readers who are experiencing you for the first time in for?
My books are all about romance. They are evocative, passionate love stories that transport my readers to vivid and colourful places so that they might experience the excitement of discovering a country with all it has to offer in culture, architecture, cuisine and scenery. The Peterborough Evening Telegraph described one of my books in their review as “An epic romance like Hollywood used to make…”and The Sun newspaper wrote about The Echoes of Love: “One of the most romantic works of fiction ever written… an epic love story beautifully told.”
We heard you’ve travelled to many of the exotic settings of your romance novels. How have your travels shaped your writing process?
A traveller at heart, I have always thought of myself as international; one who finds great inspiration from experiencing different cultures and places. There are so many amazing countries in the world which, more than people, have been my main source of inspiration.
‘Write about what you know’ is a common piece of advice given to writers, and I agree with it. Place holds such power to colour a story, and I believe any story must be firmly rooted in the ‘where’. So essential to my work is research, not only passive through the internet and books, but also physical, by travelling to the romantic places where I am setting my story…the places that make me dream. I draw on the richness of their people, their history and all they have to offer in the way of cuisine, language, and customs to create fabulous backgrounds where my characters can meet and fall in love. Essentially, I can say that my books are born of my travels; of poking around in back streets and cafes; of meeting locals and exploring landscapes – and, of course, of reading extensively on cultures.
What drew you to writing romances?
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 wild and I would dream of princes that flew in from faraway lands on their magic carpets, of princesses dressed in gowns made of sunrays and of moonbeams, and of dragons lurking in those vast blue depths, rising from the waves that crashed against the rocks underneath my windows.
In my teens, I moved from reading and dreaming of fairy stories to reading love stories and dreaming of heroes who usually took on the features of my favourite actor at the time. I began to write short romance stories that I circulated in class making me popular with my peers but less so with the nuns who taught us!
And so was born the dream of becoming a romance writer, and it is a dream that has stayed with me ever since – through school, through my days of travelling as a young woman, through meeting and marrying a wonderful man, through raising my children and through running a property renovation business. Once my children were grown up, and still the dream was haunting me, I knew I had to write the novel; I had to live the dream.
In Toni Morrison’s words: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” And I’ve done just that.
What does a typical day of writing look like for you?
I’m an early riser, and the first thing I do in the morning is two hours of marketing for my writing – emails, social media, blogging and so on.
At 8:30 I do 10 minutes of my exercise regime, I have a bubble bath (I prefer baths to showers) and then I dress. Next, I have a large cup of hot chocolate in winter, and in summer, a double espresso/Americano coffee with milk and a lump of brown sugar.
Once my chores have been dealt with, I sit at my desk. I follow a very rigid daily routine that has served me well. I start off by editing the previous day’s work and then I write solidly until one o’clock, lunchtime.
Lunch is an hour, and then I go back to my desk – unless it’s a lovely day, in which case I take a long walk on the beach in France, and in the countryside when in either Ireland or England, before returning to work. I write until suppertime at 8:00.
At 9:00 you’ll find me either reading, watching a film, or, if I’m still inspired and haven’t finished the set work for the day, I write for a little longer at my computer.
What is the one book you can’t wait to read this summer?
I spend my summer months in France and always set myself a summer project. Last year I focused on expanding my cooking repertoire: I wanted some new dishes that were healthy and modern but practical. I bought myself half a dozen books, tried about a dozen recipes and found three cookery books that are now a regular part of my collection: Rick Stein’s From Venice to Istanbul, Jamie Oliver’s Every Day Super Food and The Happy Pear: Healthy, Easy, Delicious Food to Change Your Life by David and Stephen Flynn. I count this as a successful project!
This summer, I felt a nostalgic need to go back to my roots and so I have tried to reenergise my early love of the French romantic writers. I studied Flaubert, Stendhal, Leconte de Lisle, Victor Hugo and Theophile Gautier at university, just to name a few. I expected that rereading these books would be like rediscovering old friends. However, my own attitudes have changed and it has been more like meeting completely new young, vibrant companions. Now, I understand their poetry in new ways and it is reaffirming my determination to deliver good prose that delights.
Hannah Fielding is an award-winning romance author, who grew up in Alexandria, Egypt, the granddaughter of Esther Fanous, a revolutionary feminist and writer in Egypt during the early 1900s. After graduating she developed a passion for travel, living in Switzerland, France and England. After marrying her English husband, she had little time for writing while bringing up two children, looking after dogs and horses, and running her own business renovating rundown cottages. Hannah now divides her time between her homes in England and the South of France.
She has written four novels, all featuring exotic locations and vivid descriptions: Indiscretion and Masquerade (the first two titles in the Andalucían Nights Trilogy set in Spain); Burning Embers (set in Africa); and The Echoes of Love (set in Italy). Hannah’s books have won many awards, including Gold Medal for romance at the Independent Publisher Book Awards and Silver Medal for romance at the Foreword Reviews IndieFab Book Awards (The Echoes of Love), and Gold and Silver Medals for romance at the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards (Indiscretion and Masquerade). Indiscretion has also won Best Romance at the USA Best Book Awards.
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