HANNAH FIELDING: VENICE CAPTURED MY IMAGINATION
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Hannah Fielding’s The Echoes of Love was released year ago. The readers gave positive critics to the story (av. 4.2 stars from 40 Amazon reviews). It’s a great pleasure to present our next guest who speaks not only about her books, but also about herself and her travels around the world.
– Hannah, what is your book The Echoes of Love about?
– The Echoes of Love is a touching love story that unfolds at the turn of the new millennium, set in the romantic and mysterious city of Venice and the beautiful landscape of Tuscany. It is a tale of a lost love and betrayal, unbleached passion and learning to love again – and a terrible truth that will change the lives of two strangers forever.
– Why did you decide to write the story?
– Venice itself was my main inspiration. I first visited the city 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 was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– Restricting my research trip to Venice to three nights only! I could have stayed there for a month at least.
– Tell us something more about your main character. Is she close to someone from your real life?
– I think all my heroines have a little of myself in them. Venetia reminds me of myself when I was a young woman, first striking out alone. Like her, I’d left my family and moved to a new country, and I was determined to be independent and strong, but did not always find that easy.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– I usually write a novel in around six months. Before the writing period I undertake research and rigorous planning. Afterwards, it takes some months to edit the book and prepare it for publication.
– Burning Embers was very well received by readers. Share some insight about the book?
– Burning Embers is a contemporary historical romance novel set in Kenya in 1970. It depicts the developing attraction and love between a young and naive woman, Coral, who has come home to Africa, the land of her birth, and Rafe, a handsome, virile, commanding plantation owner who carries a dark secret heavy in his heart.
It is an evocative and passionate story of coming of age, of letting go of the past, of having faith in a person and of overcoming obstacles to love, set against the vivid and colourful backdrop of rural Africa and its culture.
– Who are you?
– I grew up in a rambling house overlooking the Mediterranean. My earliest memories are of listening, enchanted, to fairy stories at the knee of my half-French half-Italian governess Zula. When I was seven we came to an agreement: for each story she told me, I would invent and relate one of my own. That is how my love for story-telling began.
Later, at a convent school, while French nuns endeavoured to teach me grammar, literature and maths, 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 and less so with the nuns.
After I graduated with a BA in French literature, my international nomadic years commenced. I lived mainly in Switzerland, France and England, where I had friends and family, and during holidays I travelled to 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. He brought me to his large Georgian rectory in Kent, surrounded by grounds and forests. After my children were born, between being a mother and running a property business, there was little time for day dreaming, let alone writing.
Then, once my children had flown the nest, I decided after so many years of yearning to write, write, write it was time to dust off the old manuscripts I’d been tinkering with for a lifetime.
Today, I am living the dream: I write full time, splitting my time between my homes in Kent and in the South of France, where I dream up romances overlooking breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.
– What are your writing habits?
– In winter I write indoors in my office, at a big wooden desk loaded up with tea and dictionaries, 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.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of the book?
– Absolutely. Each sale means someone has read the book, and that is wonderful for me.
– What are you doing to promote your book by the best possible way?
– I’m very lucky to be signed with a publisher who works hard on promotion. Personally, I spend time each day blogging and connecting with readers on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
– When we will see your next novel?
– My third novel will be publishing in April of this year. I will be revealing the cover on my website on Valentine’s Day.
– Your life story is just like a novel. You traveled all around Europe. What are your top three destinations?
1. The Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan in southern Egypt. Built on a granite promontory in the Nubian Desert on the banks of the Nile, the dark pink edifice, in the style of Belle Époque villas of the 19th century, has retained all the beauty and splendour of yester-years.
2. The Rift Valley, Kenya. I set my debut novel, Burning Embers, in Kenya because after visiting the country as a young woman I was captivated by the scenery and the people. The Rift Valley, in particular, took my breath away, and I could not resist writing a balloon ride into Burning Embers to allow my heroine, Coral, to take in the magnificent landscape.
3. St Paul de Vence, a beautiful hilltop village in Provence, and one of the oldest – founded in the ninth century. It is known as Le Bijou de la Côte d’Azur (The Jewel of the Côte d’Azur). The French painter Marc Chagall made the village his home for 20 years, and here he painted wonderfully warm pictures that pay homage to love.
– Do you remember the exact moment when you decide to write and to publish a full novel?
– The writing and the publishing decisions were separate. I wrote my first novel because the story had been living in my head for years, and I had always wanted to be a writer. Then, after I had written a couple of books, it was really my husband and my children who pushed me to try to get them published.
– If you may ask yourself one question in the interview what it will be?
– How do we find out more about your books? My website is the hub for all information on Burning Embers, The Echoes of Love and my new book. You can also keep up to date with my news and latest giveaways via:
Thank you for this opportunity to discuss my books.
Hannah Fielding currently has a Giveaway with very nice prize: paperback of Echoes of Love.
Take a look at Hannah’s books