Today I'm excited to welcome Hannah Fielding, author of Burning Embers to A Bookish Affair for an interview!
What inspired you to write Burning Embers? Have you been to Kenya before? Why did you decide to use it as your setting for this book?
Burning Embers began not as a story, but as a vivid landscape in my mind. The seed of the ideas was sown many nears 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 colourful vistas (see http://www.hannahfielding.net/?cat=7 for translations). 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 tribes, its traditions and its customs. I was enthralled. His ability to describe the many facets of his country and his people endeared Kenya to my heart long before I set foot in it.
Later, once I had visited the country myself, I put pen to paper and Burning Embers came to life. Burning Embers had to be written; there was too much about the place and its people that I felt passionate about.
Who is your favourite character in Burning Embers? Why?
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 realises 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!
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
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 on, 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, then 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 at it you get.
If you could bring three fictional characters with you to a deserted island, who would you bring with you and why?
Rhett Butler, the dark, witty, passionate and virile hero of Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.
Edward Rochester, the hero of Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontё: enigmatic, impulsive and sensitive, with psychic powers and a way with words.
Fitzwilliam Darcy, the aloof, proud and arrogant romantic hero of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
These three totally different men would constitute my harem. I would be very interested to see how each one would court me and how they would react to each other.
I think this would make for an excellent subject for a novel. I will add this to my ‘to write’ list!
Hannah Fielding is a novelist, a dreamer, a traveller, a mother, a wife and 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: she writes full time, splitting her time between her homes in Kent,
England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breathtaking views of
Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com (for Burning Embers)