Today, I posted a review for "The Echoes of Love" by Hannah Fielding. As part of the review process, I also had the opportunity to do a brief interview with the author I wanted to share.
MTG: I posted a review for your book today; tell us something about the book that is not in the summary.
Hannah: I first visited Venice, setting for “The Echoes of Love”, 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, 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 someday 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.
MTG: Where do you find inspiration for your writing?
Hannah: Place and settings have always had a powerful influence and impact on me and certainly are apparent in my writing. I write what I feel; it must come from the heart and therefore there are certain aspects of my writing I owe to my background and my life. I have traveled extensively and have always tried to soak up the individual characteristics and charms of each country and its people. The passion of Spain, the romance of grandeur of Italy, the mystery and allure of Egypt, the exotic wilderness of Kenya have all left a special mark on my soul from which I draw inspiration.
Music is also a great source of inspiration to me, whether classical or modern and in any language. I have a huge repertoire of songs from all over the world that I listen to while doing my research and it helps me create the initial atmosphere for my story. For “Burning Embers” I listened to African music, and world music from the 70s. For my Spanish trilogy I chose various interpretations of Flamenco (it differs from province as each has its very own way of singing Flamenco) and songs from the modern Spanish singers like Julio Iglesias and the Gypsy Kings. During the research of my Italian novel I surrounded myself with Italian folklore music and the wonderful voices of Peppino di Capri, Raffaella Carra, Mina and I Santa California.
MTG: Where do you usually find yourself writing?
Hannah: In England I write in our wood-panelled library surrounded by all my favourite books, and in France I write in my bedroom. Both places have wonderful views over the gardens – and in France I love the backdrop of the azure Mediterranean and sky.
MTG: What has been the biggest reward to your writing so far?
Hannah: I think the Sun newspaper in the UK featuring my book as one of the most romantic books ever written.
MTG: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Hannah: 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. Also, don’t 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 will get.
MTG: Do you have a favorite book(s) and why? I know it’s often impossible to narrow it down to one, so just pick one (or a few) that is a new favorite or consistent “go-to”.
Hannah: “The Far Pavilions” by MM Kaye. I first read it in the 1980s, and since then my copy has been well-thumbed. MM Kaye has been an inspiration to me in my writing, because, like me, she was a traveller at heart and she wrote wonderfully descriptive stories set in exotic locations that really transport you to far-off lands. “The Far Pavilions” is like an Indian “Gone With the Wind” – epic, moving, romantic, sweeping. If you’d like to know more about this writer and book, you can read a blog post I wrote on the subject at http://www.hannahfielding.net/?p=1523.
MTG: What books are you reading now?
Hannah: A book called “Return to You” by Samantha Chase, via Netgalley. I review romance books on my website.
MTG: Give us three “Good to Know” facts.
- I once unwittingly snubbed the actor Richard Burton (full story at http://www.hannahfielding.net/?p=676).
- 2. Before writing full time, I ran a business renovating old cottages.
- 3. I collect antiques: Chinese porcelain, Japanese sculptures, and French and Italian glass.
MTG: Do you have any upcoming projects?
Hannah: My new book will publish in April of this year. It’s the first book in a fiery trilogy set in Andalucia, Spain, spanning three generations of a Spanish/English family, from 1950 to the present day. It tells 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.
About the Author:
When I was a child, my governess told me fairy stories. These tales, full of superstition and magic, were my first inspiration, and the warmth and colour they still evoke greatly influence my writing. They were also the experience through which I learned to become a storyteller, as my governess and I had an agreement – whenever she told me a story, I would have to tell her one in return.
As a novelist, I am obsessed by vivid colours, lush landscapes and tales of exotic customs in far-off lands. I can trace much of this back to a dear and long-departed friend of my family Mr Chiumbo Wangai, who fascinated me as a teenager with stories of the witch-doctors and magical ceremonies in his native Kenya. When I visited the country myself, I soon fell in love with its beautiful countryside and unforgettable sunsets.
Though I have been telling stories since I was a child, it was only after my children had grown up and my husband and I had turned our family business into a success that I felt I could devote myself to writing full time. After I dug out the various ideas and sketches I had jotted down over the years, I realised how profoundly my travels throughout Europe, the Mediterranean and particularly Africa had burned themselves into my memory. I felt driven to turn them into a novel.
The mystery, magic, heat and passion of Kenya’s landscapes inspired me to use them as the setting for my first novel. “Burning Embers”, a passionate love story set against the backdrop of the country in 1970. My later travels through Europe provided rich fodder for more stories, including my new novel, “The Echoes of Love”, set in Venice and Tuscany, Italy. (Courtesy of Hannah's website "About Me")