Sunday, 24 June 2012

Author Interview: Hannah Fielding

Today's guest author is Hannah Fielding whose debut novel, Burning Embers, is due to be published here in the UK next week.

Can you tell us a little bit about Burning Embers?
Lovely Coral Sinclair, a young and fiery English photographer, is on her way to Kenya, the land of her birth, to take ownership of Mpingo plantation, a legacy from her recently deceased father.

Handsome and charismatic Rafe de Monfort, a mature French widower and owner of a nightclub and of the Whispering Palms plantation, holds a dark secret deep in his heart.

The two meet on board the ship that is taking them both to Kenya, and Coral feels an immediate attraction towards this stranger.

Once in Kenya, Coral discovers that Rafe is her closest neighbour, but she is warned off him by her old nanny. Gossip has it that Rafe is a notorious womaniser who counts among his mistresses Morgana, the dusky night club dancer, and Cybil, Coral’s stepmother with whom it is believed he was having an affair – an affair which might have contributed to her father’s death. 

Yet despite herself, Coral finds herself falling in love with this man who shows her only kindness.

What is she to think when a witch doctor tells her that Rafe killed his heiress first wife and that he is now pretending to care for her simply to get his hands on after Mpingo?  When beautiful Cybil says that Rafe has been her lover for over ten years and Morgana assures her that Rafe will never be hers? What is the secret in Rafe’s past that colours his every move and makes him more vulnerable than Coral could ever imagine?

In this evocative and passionate story set in 1970 against the vivid and colourful backdrop of rural Africa and its culture, the seemingly doomed lovers are sent down a destructive path wrought with betrayal, passion and greed. Will love overcome all obstacles and prevail at the end?

What was the inspiration for setting this in Kenya?
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 nineteenth century. His poems are wonderfully descriptive and vivid – about wild animals, magnificent dawns and sunsets, exotic settings and colourful vistas. Then, as a teenager, I went on holiday to Kenya with my parents and I met our family friend Mr Chiumbo Wangai who 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.

Burning Embers is your debut novel.  How long did it take you to get published? 
I feel very fortunate that Burning Embers was accepted for publication by Omnific so quickly. It took five months from my first publisher submission to Omnific’s acceptance.

If you could have the book made into a film, who would you cast in the leading roles? 
There are so many wonderfully romantic actors working in television and cinema today that this question is very difficult.  Rafe has the craggy features, the brooding presence, and the charisma of David Selby. Or for a more current actor, I think Gerard Butler would play the role superbly.  As for the leading actress, I had Twiggy (with long hair) in mind when I wrote the book.  Today, I think Jennifer Lawrence would fit the role beautifully.

Do you have a set daily writing routine?
Yes. I write everyday. Writing is my life and also a job – a very enjoyable job.

I wake up very early, so I get rid of my chores first thing. After my cup of passion fruit tea, in the morning I sit down at my desk at around 9.30 a.m. and work through the day with an hour for lunch.

Are you working on a new novel?  If so, are you able to give us a hint what it's about?
Yes, I have already written a trilogy that takes place in Andalucia, Spain. It follows three generations of a Spanish family starting in 1950 through to the present day. I am in the middle of writing my next novel, set in Venice and Tuscany, Italy in 1979/ 1980. It opens with the Carnival of Venice that has returned after a long cessation of almost two centuries.

Do you have much spare time to read books?  If so, what was the last book you read or what are you currently reading?
I read every night before going to sleep at the rate of one chapter a night. The last book I read was To Be Queen by Christy English, and I am currently reading Courting Justice by Brenda Jackson.

If you were going to be stuck on a desert island and could only take 3 books with you, which ones would you choose?
This is a very difficult question because there are so many writers I admire.  So I will pick a few of the ones I like to re-read. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, and The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye.

Can you describe Burning Embers in 20 words or less?   
It is an evocative and passionate story set against the vivid and colourful backdrop of rural Africa and its culture.

If the Sneak Peeks feature and this interview have got you in the mood to read this book, then make sure that you enter the fab giveaway but you'd better be quick as it finishes tonight.

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