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 four novels: Burning Embers, ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’, set in Kenya; the award-winning Echoes of Love, ‘an epic love story that is beautifully told’ set in Italy; and Indiscretion and Masquerade (from the Andalusian Nights Trilogy), her fieriest novels yet. She is currently working on her forthcoming book, Legacy, the final title in the trilogy, which is due to be published in spring 2016.
1. If you could travel back in time where/when would you go?
I would return to my early twenties, when having completed my university studies I spread my wings and left my homeland, Egypt, to live, work and travel in Europe. I met so many fascinating people, saw so many inspirational sights, experienced so much culture: those years shaped the woman – and writer! – I have become. I was something of a nomad, until one evening in London I met a man at a drinks party and I fell in love. I would love to go back to that evening once more, and see my husband again for the very first time. Such a powerful and beautiful memory.
2. What gave you the idea for Masquerade?
The hero Leandro was a face in a crowd of gypsies on a beach in France that triggered my imagination and was the muse for this story. He is passionate, mischievous and impetuous, with a smile that mesmerises and a devil-may-care attitude. He’s proud and also kind, compassionate and loving. I got all of that from a chance encounter; if only that man knew how he’d inspired me!
I also wanted to write a book in which I could weave two themes close to my heart:
1. Masquerade: since I first attended a grand masked ball as a child, I have been fascinated by the masquerade – both literally (there is such a ball in the book) and figuratively. The epigraph for masquerade is from Lord Byron: And, after all, what is a lie? ’Tis but the truth in masquerade.
2. Art: in the story, the heroine Luz is writing a biography of a prominent Spanish artist, which allowed me to could delve into the fascinating world of Surrealism.
3. What is your favorite motivational phrase?
‘Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite: “Fool!” said my muse to me, “look in thy heart, and write.”’ I use this quotation, from Sir Philip Sidney, to keep my on focus in my writing. I believe firmly in writing what is in your heart to write; being true to yourself.
4. What is the hardest thing about writing your latest book? What is the easiest thing about writing?
The most challenging parts were 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. I wrote and rewrote the first paragraph until I settled upon:
Luz set eyes on him for the first time from her seat on Zeyna’s back as the fine white Arab mare stepped down the narrow path from the cliff that led to the beach. He was sitting on the edge of the track, leaning nonchalantly against a wild carob tree,watching her while chewing on a sprig of heather. As she drew nearer, she met his steady gaze, spirited and wild. At that moment she had no idea this man would have the power to change her world and create such havoc in her heart, that she would emerge from the experience a different person. Fate had not yet lit up the winding pathway of her life nor the echoes of history along it, but now, in front of this stranger, a disturbing awareness leapt into flame deep inside her and began to flicker intensely. Without thinking, she tugged on Zeyna’s reins to slow the mare down.
As for the final paragraph, I wouldn’t want to spoil the story!
The easiest, part for me, is the writing itself. Having researched and planned carefully, the words flow onto the page. I love that stage of the writing process, when I am immersed in the story, and when I am in other stages – publishing, marketing and so on – I yearn to get back into the creative flow.
5. Super Hero or Super Villain. Why?
Hero, definitely. Aren’t all romantics eternal optimists with soft hearts? The heroines and heroes in my novels may struggle at times with their pride, their courage, their faith, but they are all good people at heart.
From the award-winning author of The Echoes of Love. Love, mystery and desire under the
A young writer becomes entangled in an illicit gypsy love affair, pulling her into a world of secrets, deception and dark desire.
Summer, 1976. Luz de Rueda returns to her beloved Spain and takes a job as the biographer of a famous artist. On her first day back in Cádiz, she encounters a bewitching, passionate young gypsy, Leandro, who immediately captures her heart, even though relationships with his kind are taboo. Haunted by this forbidden love, she meets her new employer, the sophisticated Andrés de Calderón. Reserved yet darkly compelling, he is totally different to Leandro but almost the gypsy's double. Both men stir unfamiliar and exciting feelings in Luz, although mystery and danger surround them in ways she has still to discover.
Luz must decide what she truly desires as glistening Cádiz, with its enigmatic moon and whispering turquoise shores, seeps back into her blood. Why is she so drawn to the wild and magical sea gypsies? What is behind the old fortune-teller’s sinister warnings about ‘Gemini’? Through this maze of secrets and lies, will Luz finally find her happiness… or her ruin?
Masquerade is a story of forbidden love, truth and trust. Are appearances always deceptive