Monday, March 30, 2015

Q & A with Hannah Fielding, Author of Indiscretion

Today we have Hannah Fielding, author of a new historical romance called Indiscretion. After reading the following blurb, I not only wanted to read it, but had some questions for her too.

IndiscretionA young woman's journey of discovery takes her to a world of forbidden passion, savage beauty, and revenge.

Spring, 1950. Alexandra de Falla, a half-English, half-Spanish young writer abandons her privileged but suffocating life in London and travels to Spain to be reunited with her long-estranged family.

Instead of providing the sense of belonging she yearns for, the de Fallas are driven by seething emotions, and in the grip of the wild customs and traditions of Andalucia, all of which are alien to Alexandra.

Among the strange characters and sultry heat of this country, she meets the man who awakens emotions she hardly knew existed. But their path is strewn with obstacles: dangerous rivals, unpredictable events, and inevitable indiscretions. What does Alexandra's destiny hold for her in this flamboyant land of drama and all-consuming passions, where blood is ritually poured on to the sands of sun-drenched bullfighting arenas, mysterious gypsies are embroiled in magic and revenge, and beautiful dark-eyed dancers hide their secrets behind elegant lacy fans?

"Indiscretion"is a story of love and identity, and the clash of idealsin the pursuit of happiness. But can love survive in a world where scandal and danger are never far away?

 First of all, why Spain? And why this time period? What drew you there?

My romance with Spain began when I was in my early teens after I saw a film called Pleasure Seekers. The wonderful setting and atmospheric music made me dream and triggered my imagination. Then once I had visited that beautiful sun-drenched country and met with their hospitable, fun-loving, flamboyant people, I was charmed and the seeds for Indiscretion were sown.

I decided to set Indiscretion in the fifties for three reasons:
    1) Because it is a period I know well
2) Because that era fifty or so years ago saw major changes in society and therefore there is much to explore in terms of romance in that era
    3) Because I was so taken by Spain that I knew that my inspiration would not stop
         at one book and I was giving myself the chance of writing a sequel or even a

What drew me and captured my heart in Spain was its rich culture and its ancient varied history. Spain is a land of drama. The people are intense, their culture, their music, their traditions personify passion and fire. They are never in a hurry. If you don’t make it today, there is always mañana, tomorrow… life is lived to the full. The Spanish seem to be totally in tune with James Dean’s immortal words, ‘Live as if you’ll die today.’

Did you travel to Spain to visit places you mention in the novel?

Yes of course. ‘Write about what you know’ is a common piece of advice given to writers, and I agree with it. The more experience you bring to bear in your fiction, the more genuine and realistic the story is. So when I write, I like to get a feel of the place where my romance novel is set. I need to experience its weather, view its countryside, mingle with its people and try its exclusive cuisine. Every facet of a country helps me to form the setting of a film in my mind where I can place my characters, knowing that their experience will be genuine and that my story will come from the heart.

From the blurb, I understand there’s some Flamenco and some bullfighting in the story. What kind of research did you do for both? Did you take dance lessons? Go see a fight? Or was it all book research?

I love dance. I love ballet and flamenco and folk dancing. From the age of five to the age of sixteen, I took ballet lessons in which we were taught not only classic dancing, but also folk dancing from various countries, namely Russia, Hungary, Egypt and of course Spain; and so naturally Flamenco was part of the programme. As a young girl I dreamed of being a ballerina; now I am content to watch and be swept away by the beauty of a dance.
As for bullfighting, of course I went to a bullfight. You don’t go to Spain and not attend one of Spain’s most important rituals – it is actually their national sport. Bullfighting pre-historically was steeped in the culture of Mediterranean countries. In Ancient Greece for example, the legend of the killing of the minotaur was symbolic of a bullfight.

My experience, of course, was enhanced with additional book research, to make sure that my facts were absolutely right.

Speaking of research, did you by any chance come across some interesting fact or story that caught your attention but simply didn’t fit in the book? Something shocking? Funny?

Yes, I did come across a gypsy ritual that might be considered ‘shocking’. It was about thirty five years ago, in a pueblo, a village of Andalusia. Knowing about my fascination with gypsies a Spanish friend took me to a gypsy wedding. It was set in a sort of a big warehouse with crowds of people clothed in a dazzling array of bright colours and bold accessories. Suddenly, while the singing, dancing and merriment were going on, the young bride was taken into another room by three older women under the enthusiastic cheers of the guests. My friend explained that gypsy tradition stipulates that the bride must be a virgin and therefore before the wedding is consummated she must be subjected to the gypsy custom of prueba del pañuelo, a public ritual to certify her virginity, carried out with a white handkerchief. Once the test shows a positive result, known as the ‘three roses’,  the women come out of the room and sing ‘El Yeli’ to the couple as they shower the bride with sugar-coated almonds and the ceremony can go on. If the result is negative, the wedding will be cancelled.

What’s your next project?

There is a sequel to Indiscretion, Masquerade, which will take my readers to the next generation of the Rueda and de Falla families. More fiery emotions, more colourful traditions, more outlandish rituals, and a passionate love story to which you can look forward.

Thank you so much for joining us! I can't wait to read your novel! Good luck.

Hannah Fielding is an award winning contemporary romance fiction writer. She was born and raised in Egypt and is well known for her passion for travel. Her novels are all set in exotic locations and feature wonderfully vivid imagery and descriptions. Her first novel, 'Burning Embers' was published in 2012. 'The Echoes of Love' was published in 2014 to critical acclaim. It was awarded the IPPY Gold Award for Romance and was described by The Sun newspaper as, 'An epic love story that is beautifully told...'. Indiscretion is due to be released on April 9th, 2015.

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