25 May 2015

Author Interview / Hannah Fielding


A young woman's journey of discovery takes her to a world of forbidden passion, savage beauty, and revenge.

Spring, 1950. Alexandra de Falla, a half-English, half-Spanish young writer abandons her privileged but suffocating life in London and travels to Spain to be reunited with her long-estranged family.

Instead of providing the sense of belonging she yearns for, the de Fallas are driven by 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 the 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 on to the sands of sun-drenched bullfighting arenas, mysterious gypsies are embroiled in magic and revenge, and beautiful dark-eyed dancers hide their secrets behind elegant lacy fans?

"Indiscretion"is a story of love and identity, and the clash of idealsin the pursuit of happiness. But can love survive in a world where scandal and danger are never far away?






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.

If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?

I am not sure how easy I would find it to co-write, but I would love to brainstorm ideas and learn from literary greats like Charlotte Bronte and Daphne du Maurier. My favourite writer of all time is MM Kaye, author of The Far Pavilions, so it would be wonderful to work with her. I can imagine us talking for hours in a scenic spot over cups of tea, sharing our experiences of travelling – she lived in Egypt, for example, where I grew up, and Kenya, a country I so fell in love with that I set my debut novel, Burning Embers, there.

What is the hardest part of the writing for you?

The most challenging parts for me are writing the opening paragraph and the closing paragraph. The first must encourage the reader to continue his or her journey into the novel, to want to get to know the characters and their story; and the second must leave the reader with a feeling of contentment and maybe a tinge of melancholy because the voyage has come to an end and it is as if he or she is saying farewell to a friend.

What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?

I write everyday. 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 when I’m dreaming up a plot.

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!


When and why did you first start writing?

Stories and writing have always been part of my life. My father was a great raconteur and my governess used to tell the most fabulous fairy stories – I could listen to them for hours. When I was seven she and I came to an agreement: for every story she’d tell me, I would invent one in return. That is how my passion for storytelling began.

At school I consistently received first prize for my essays and my teachers often read them aloud in class. As a teenager I used to write short romantic stories during lessons and circulate them in class, which made me very popular with my peers (but less so with the nuns!). In addition, since a young age I have kept some sort of a diary where I note my feelings, ideas and things that take my fancy (or not).

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.

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

My romance with Spain began when I was in my early teens after I saw a film called Pleasure Seekers. The wonderful setting and atmospheric music made me dream and triggered my imagination. Then once I had visited that beautiful country, the seeds for Indiscretion were sown.

Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?

Apart from the longs hours of reading I do for my research, I read almost anything; but I love to read romantic novels most of all (the thicker, the better). I also enjoy reading mystery books, psychological thrillers, books about customs and traditions in various countries, books of quotations and dictionaries. I read every night before going to sleep at the rate of one chapter a night.

The last book I read was The Amber Keeper by Freda Lightfoot – I love family sagas. I am now reading The Dressmaker’s Daughter by Nancy Carson.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?

If the desire, the discipline and the time required for the project are all there, then:

First and foremost, write from the heart.  Be true to yourself and don’t compromise to please the market. Markets 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: they’re all there to enrich your experience and make your writing journey easier.

Plan your novel down 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 have spent time agonising 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, than 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 get.

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