Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Author Interview: Hannah Fielding, Author of Burning Embers

Today, Lovey Dovey Books is featuring romance author Hannah Fielding! Her first novel, Burning Embers, released earlier this year with Omnific Publishing. The novel, set in 1970's Kenya, immediately intrigued me and I'm happy to have been able to interview Hannah while learning more about it. Now, I get to share with you all, so enjoy!

Welcome to Lovey Dovey Books Hannah! Can you tell us three fun facts about yourself?

  1. Once a month I have a Discover a Country’s Cuisine Night for family or friends, when I cook a three-course meal featuring the speciality of a given country.
  1. I love to sit around a log fire, especially if there is a storm howling outside,and tell romantic stories to whoever wants to listen.
  1. I love to plan a picnic (usually only for my husband and myself) to have in a romantic place, an hour away from home – which consists also of planning the music we take with us and the food, which has to be rather unusual and special.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

-     I read: I love reading romantic novels – the thicker the book, the better.

-   I cook: I love cooking, using the various produce of our vegetable garden. Jams, chutneys, stuffed vine leaves (dolmadis), stuffed savoury and sweet filo pastry cushions that I serve as nibbles when I entertain, stewed fruit for winter crumbles. All for the freezer. The list could go on for ever.

-   I entertain: I find nothing more satisfying that having friends over; and as I often travel, it’s great to catch up with all the news. - I travel: To research my books. I find it exciting and exhilarating. Discovering new places, new people, new traditions and new cuisines, of course.

-   I collect antiques: Chinese porcelain, Japanese sculptures and French and Italian glass, so you will often find me rummaging in flea markets and dark second-hand shops in the hope of discovering a treasure.

How would you describe your writing style?

My writing style is descriptive. I try to convey to the reader every detail my imagination is conjuring up – all the senses are involved, so that the reader can form a clear picture of the setting in which the plot takes place and grasp a better understanding of the characters and their reactions. I am careful to use the right word and I am always looking for the nuance that will best describe what I am trying to put across. This could be due to the rigorous training of my French education. The nuns at my school, and later my teachers at university, were very strict about style.

Burning Embers is a romance set in 1970s Kenya. Why did you choose this setting and time period for Coral’s story?

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 animal, magnificent dawns and sunsets, exotic setting and colourful vistas. Then later on, I went on holiday to Kenya with my parents and I met our family friend Mr Chiumbo Wangai who often used to visit us. He was a great raconteur and told me extensively about his beautiful country, its traditions and its customs. I was enthralled, and when I put pen to paper Burning Embers came to life. I have had some of Leconte de Lisle’s beautiful poems translated into English by a friend, Mr John Harding. You can find them on my website at http://www.hannahfielding.net.

I set the plot in 1970 for two reasons. First of all, because that is the time I know best, since that is when Mr Wangai used to visit us, and secondly, because that period reflects a turning point in the politics of Kenya: the end of an era and the beginning of a new Kenya.

What was your favorite part of Burning Embers to write, and why?

Without a doubt Chapter 5; there is so much in that chapter:

-          The romantic tête à tête dinner between Rafe and Coral
-          The show at the Golden Fish
-          Rafe and Coral’s first kiss and Rafe’s struggle with himself
-          The altercation between Coral and her rival, the dusky dancer, Morgana

I find it a very romantic and atmospheric chapter, where the romance between the two protagonists goes into crescendo.

Can you describe Burning Embers’ protagonist, Coral?

Coral could at first come across as a spoilt brat. But there is more to Coral than meets the eye. She has had a protected upbringing, but she has also had many blows. The abrupt change she had to suffer at the age of nine when she had to leave the open spaces of Africa for the confinement of boarding school in England; the divorce of her parents; the remarriage of her mother; the birth of siblings to this new marriage; and finally, her own broken engagement. All this has made her insecure, and that is why sometimes she reacts so childishly to her surroundings and to Rafe. Even though she is naïve emotionally, and her fiery, passionate and rebellious nature pushes her sometimes to extreme behaviour, she is intelligent and very competent at her work as a photographer, which she takes very seriously. Still, through the book Coral learns to grow up the hard way, and blossoms into an understanding, compassionate and generous woman.

Are you working on another novel? If so, can you tell us about it?

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 which 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 also written a very romantic and touching love story set in Venice and Tuscany in 1979/1980. It opens with the Venice Carnival that has returned after a cessation of almost two centuries. It is a tale of lost but tender deep, ineffable love, dealing with its echoes and learning to love again.

I am now working on a trilogy set in Egypt, which will take my readers from 1945 to the present day, transporting them to a world of deep, 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.

Thank you for stopping by, Hannah! Do you have any parting words for your fans?

I would like to tell my fans thank you for the reviews, and that I am delighted that they enjoy my tales and I hope to always live up to their expectations. They should not hesitate to drop me a note at my email address: fieldinghannah@yahoo.co.uk. I am always delighted to hear from readers.

About Hannah:
I grew up in a rambling house overlooking the Mediterranean. My half-French half-Italian governess Zula used to tell the most beautiful fairy stories. When I was seven we came to an agreement: for each story she told me, I would invent and tell her one of my own. That is how my love of writing began.
Later, at a convent school where French nuns endeavoured to teach us grammar, literature and maths, during lessons which bored me to tears I took to daydreaming 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.
After I graduated with a BA in French literature from university, my international nomadic years started. I lived mainly in Switzerland, France and England, and holidayed in other Mediterranean countries like Italy, Greece and Spain. Once I met my husband, Nicholas, I settled in Kent and subsequently had little time for writing while bringing up two children and running my own business renovating rundown cottages.
Then, in my late fifties, I created room in my life for writing once more. Now, my husband and I spend half our time in our Georgian refectory in Kent and the rest in our home in the South of France, where I write overlooking breathtaking views of the ocean.
My first novel, Burning Embers, has been a work in progress for many years. It is set in Africa - my homeland - and is inspired by travels to Kenya. I am currently working on books set in Spain and Italy, which is a wonderful excuse to travel often and drink in passionate cultures and beautiful landscapes.
Connect with Hannah: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest


1 comment:

  1. Great interview. The novel sounds really nice. Love the setting of Kenya! You don't hear that a lot! :)

    J'adore Happy Endings


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