AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: HANNAH FIELDING
Debut author Hannah Fielding has joined the bunnies of JR for a chat….
What is your most current work out?
Burning Embers is my current work out, published by www.omnificpublishing.com.
Tell us a little about Burning Embers. What inspired you to write it?
Burning Embers began not as a story, but as a vivid landscape in my mind. The seed of the idea was sown many years ago when, as a schoolgirl, I studied the works of Leconte de Lisle, a French Romantic poet of the 19th century. His poems are wonderfully descriptive and vivid – about wild animals, magnificent dawns and sunsets, exotic settings and colorful vistas. Add to that my journey to Kenya and Mr Wangai’s enthralling stories and it was impossible for me not to be inspired, and when I put pen to paper, Burning Embers was born.
I have had some of Leconte de Lisle’s beautiful poems translated. You can find them on my website at www.hannahfielding.net/?cat=7.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I always write romantic novels. I am an incurable romantic, a passionate and imaginative dreamer, in love with the beautiful places that I visit on my travels; and because that is also the genre I enjoy the most reading, I think that for the time being I should write about what comes from the heart: ROMANCE.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
I can only speak about Burning Embers characters, as that is the only book that has been published so far.
It would be too easy for me to choose Rafe, my Alpha man hero, who in my eyes represents the perfect man par excellence. But I feel a strong pull to a secondary character, Morgana, the dusky Middle Eastern dancer and Rafe’s mistress. A beautiful and passionate woman, she guards her love for Rafe with the fire of a lioness defending her cubs. As long as she thinks that there is hope to keep her man she will fight for her love, all claws out. She is sensitive and proud, and as soon as she realizes that Rafe’s happiness is with another woman, she discreetly relinquishes her place and melts away into the background. That’s what I call selfless love!
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
I think that it is always difficult to “get right” the hero and the heroine as they are the main interest in the story and I want my readers to identify with them.
In my opinion, a hero’s physique is important, but charisma and strength of character are more important than looks, and there should be the right balance of machismo and kindness. Money is always an attraction, a little bit of sarcasm to add piquant, and of course passion, passion, passion. It’s a tall order to achieve while keeping him realistic.
Rafe, the dashing hero of Burning Embers, was particularly difficult to craft because in the story many rumors are floating around about him and I wanted him to still be sympathetic to my readers from beginning to end.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
I probably do it subconsciously. I have met so many interesting characters in my travels and while living in various countries that some of them are bound to come out in my writing. Saying that, you will always find in my books an older person who is a wise confidante to either the hero or the heroine. That is the shadow of my governess, a lovely lady who was with us for twenty-five years whose advice was always wise and who nurtured in me the love of telling stories as she herself was a wonderful storyteller. Other than that I do not consciously draw on characters or situations from real life.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
I am a thorough planner. 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.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
The most challenging parts for me when I write are the opening paragraph and the closing paragraph. The former 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 latter 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.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I collect antiques: Chinese porcelain, Japanese sculptures and French and Italian glass. It is a great temptation for me on my travels to go rummaging in flea markets and dark second-hand shops in the hope of discovering a treasure. I always try to bring back home with me something from times gone by.
What TV show are you addicted to?
I love romantic miniseries in the fashion of Dallas, Dynasty, Melrose Place, Falcon Crest, and now the modern Dallas and Revenge. I have watched them all again and again and have bought the DVDs when available.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
A thesaurus. My background in French literature has been a blessing. French is sonorous and elaborate and you can’t study the literature without developing a love of words and phrases. I used to spend hours reading a thesaurus, totally engrossed in the nuances of words. Even now, when I am looking up a word, I sometimes find myself absorbed in the subtle shadings of words – and time just flies by.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
I love music: it has such power to move, to affect, to inspire. When I write at my desk, I often have music on in the background – carefully selected to reflect the mood of the particular chapter I’m writing.
In Burning Embers, as well as running a prosperous plantation, Rafe owns a nightclub, The Golden Fish: a high-class, palatial establishment with a majestic cliff-top location overlooking the tempestuous ocean. This chapter is charged with emotion – sensuality, jealousy, frustration. It’s a setting imbued with soul and sexuality, and as I wrote, the melody of Fausto Pappeti’s saxophone provided the perfect romantic ambiance.
Later, while browsing YouTube, I found the song ‘Burning Embers’ by singer/songwriter Kendall Payne. It’s soulful and gently lulling, and once she got to the chorus I was hooked – the lyrics ‘You feel like burning embers / You feel like coming home / You feel like my forever’ instantly made me think of Coral and Rafe in my novel Burning Embers. You can listen to Kendall Payne’s song yourself at www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGXI8eQvGqU.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
The heroine must be beautiful but spirited; strong but still feminine; intelligent and passionate; able to convince a viewer that she is innocent. She must be credible in her roles as both naïve young lady and blossoming, sexually-kindled woman. She must be able to command the male lead’s attention and affection, and appear to be his equal on screen, while not being so ethereally beautiful or delicate that a female viewer could not identify with her. Malin Akerman has just the right look for the part, and from the roles I’ve seen her play in movies, I think she could perfectly convey Coral as a girl becoming a woman. I loved her in 27 Dresses and The Proposal.
First and foremost, the hero must be attractive. He does not have to be a beautiful man; indeed, sometimes the most appealing leads aren’t. But he must exude magnetism, be eminently male with an edge of machismo, and physique matters. More important than looks, though, is character – which shines through appearance to make for a truly knee-melting hero. He must have charisma; he must be the kind of man who, when he enters a room, has such a commanding presence that you can’t help but look his way. He must have principles, confidence, and strength of character. He must have wit – an easy smile. He must be kind, and compassionate. But above all else, he must be passion incarnate! Perfectly fitting the bill to impersonate Rafe, in my opinion, is Joe Manganiello, who has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt in hit US show True Blood that he is a most attractive hero indeed (no wonder he is rumored to have been cast as the next Batman).
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I was at my home in France when Omnific Publishing wrote to tell me they had accepted my manuscript of Burning Embers.
The first person I told was my husband Nicholas, who has always been a great supporter of my writing, and my children Christian and Alexandra.
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
I have read all Susan Howatch’s books.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I was ten. It was Lady’s Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence, which I found in my mother’s room and read secretly because I knew that she wouldn’t approve!
If you still have one of those pesky non-writing jobs what is it?
I used to refurbish old rundown cottages in and around the area I live. Now I have given my life to writing and to running my two homes in Kent, England, and in the South of France.
Do you have a favorite movie you have seen in the last few months and/or an all-time favorite?
Many movies I’ve watched have remained close to my heart, but the one that stands out as an all-time favorite is Gone With the Wind… What romance! What passion!
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
My readers can expect a new Hannah Fielding romance novel this autumn. The Echoes of Love is a romantic and touching love story set in Venice and Tuscany at the Millennium. It opens with the Venice Carnival and is a contemporary tale of lost but tender and deep, ineffable love, dealing with its echoes and learning to love again. The Echoes of Love, published by my new publishers London Wall Publishing, should be coming out in hardback, paperback and e-book in November 2013.
I have written a sizzling and sensual trilogy, a romance that is set in Andalucia, Spain, spanning a period that will take the reader from the 1950s 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.
I have just finished writing a passionate contemporary love story peppered with dramatic events worthy of the Greek tragedies, set in the beautiful islands of Greece, which I know so well.
I will now be working on a trilogy set in Egypt, which will take my readers from 1945 to the present day; transporting them to a world of deeply ingrained customs and traditions, interesting though often cruel, and making them live through the various winds and storms that blew over this very ancient land.
How do you pick your characters’ names?
It takes me a long time to decide on my characters names and sometimes I change them in the middle of the book. They must be authentic to the nationality of my characters and must have a romantic sound or meaning to them. In Burning Embers my heroine’s name is Coral, like the beautiful coral reefs of Kenya, and my hero Rafe, short for Raphael de Monfort, is a romantic French aristocratic name.
In The Echoes of Love, my next book that is to be released in November, my heroine is called Venetia, like the romantic and beautiful city in which the plot takes place, and the hero is Paolo, a liquid Italian name like the lagoons of Venice that rolls sensually over the tongue.
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
A mixture of both, I think, is indispensable. Love at first sight to establish the passion that blows away the hero and heroine, and a steady growth throughout for this passion to develop and blossom into true, deep and lasting love.
What is your reaction to people who say one of the following…“Oh you write romance, I thought you were a real writer”, “Romance isn’t a real writing career” or the ever popular “Oh, one of those books”.
I’d say that they don’t know what they are missing!
Where can readers find you?
My readers can find me at:
My website and blog: www.hannahfielding.net
What is your favorite type of chocolate?
Dark chocolate – Bendicks Mint Crisps to be exact.