Publisher: London Wall Publishing
Publication Date: December 6, 2013
Book Links: Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Synopsis: Set against the breathtaking beauty of Italy, The Echoes of Love is a passionate, heart-breaking romance to ignite the senses and rekindle your belief in the power of love. Seduction, passion and secrets... Venetia Aston-Montagu has escaped to Venice to work in her godmother's architectural practice, putting a lost love behind her. For the past ten years she has built a fortress around her heart, only to find the walls tumbling down one night of the carnival when she is rescued from masked assailants by an enigmatic stranger, Paolo Barone. Drawn to the powerfully seductive Paolo, despite warnings of his Don Juan reputation and rumours that he keeps a mistress, Venetia can't help being caught up in the smouldering passion that ignites between them. When she finds herself assigned to a project at his magnificent home deep in the Tuscan countryside, Venetia not only faces a beautiful young rival but also a sinister count and dark forces in the shadows, determined to come between them. Can Venetia trust that love will triumph, even over her own demons? Or will Paolo's carefully guarded, devastating secret tear them apart forever?
Author Bio: 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 the Mediterranean.
Her first novel, ‘Burning Embers’, is a vivid, evocative love story set against the backdrop of tempestuous and wild Kenya of the 1970s, reviewed by one newspaper as ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’. Her new novel, ‘The Echoes of Love, is a story of passion, betrayal and intrigue set in the romantic and mysterious city of Venice and the beautiful landscape of Tuscany.
Interview: Q. Please tell us about the inspiration for your current release.
I first visited Venice 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, that 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 some day 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.
Q. How did writing this book affect you?
Writing any book is, for me, an immensely pleasurable process. I spent so much of my life dreaming of being a ‘proper’ writer that now I feel quite restless when I’m not mid-novel. At the moment, for example, I’m very busy preparing for Christmas and the upcoming wedding of my son, and while these are wonderfully happy events, I do find myself itching to open the laptop sometimes, and I have been caught daydreaming about my next plot!
Writing The Echoes of Love was a joy, because I’d carried the essence of the story inside me for so long, and because it gave me the perfect excuse to immerse myself in Italian culture, which I love. I devoured books on architecture, history and folklore. I cooked Italiano for my family. I listened to classic Italian music and watched Italian movies. Best of all, I convinced my husband that a research trip to Venice was essential, and we spent a wonderful long weekend there together. Heaven!
Whenever I finish a book, I must deal with a mix of feelings: pride, joy, relief, but also sadness that my relationship with the characters has come to an end. I missed writing The Echoes of Love once I was finished, but as usual I channeled that feeling into coming up with a new idea for my next novel!
Q. Is there anything you haven’t written about that you would like to in the future?
So far I have written books set in Africa and Italy (published), and Spain and the Greek islands (forthcoming). I have always wanted to write a romance set in Egypt, my birthplace, and that is my goal for my next book series: a trilogy set in Egypt, taking the reader through the tribulations of an Egyptian family that spans three generations, from after World War II to the present day.
Q. Which of your characters would you want to be and why?
In all my female characters there is a little of me. There is much I like about them, but I also dislike some of their traits. The important thing to me is that they are not the stereotypical heroines and that they have their faults. They are human, which I hope makes them easier to relate to.
In many ways, I’d love to be Coral, heroine of my first novel, Burning Embers, for her career as a photographer and her feisty independence. But then, she is also very naïve, which holds less appeal for me.
Then there is Venetia, heroine of The Echoes of Love. Again, her career – mosaic restorer – fascinates me, and I love her passion and intelligence. But she is over-reticent with the hero, Paolo, very cautious with her heart, and I am more of a romantic than that!
Q. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
I’d love to be able to paint. Art is a huge source of inspiration for my writing, and there are so many beautiful sceneries in the world. I try to paint them with my pen instead of with a brush, but still… nothing is quite the same as the visual impact of a painting. I think many creative types wish they could work in other mediums – dancers want to sing, sculptors want to write poetry. The more outlets we have for self-expression, the better. But while one day I hope to find the time to put brush to canvas, I’m enough of a realist to know that writing is my forte.
Q. What are you currently reading?
Because I am currently researching my Egyptian trilogy, I am re-reading Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo trilogy. It was originally written in Arabic, but the English translation is excellent and brings the story and the characters to life. Mahfouz’s Nobel Prize for literature makes every Egyptian very proud. We regard him as the Egyptian Balzac; his stories describe so accurately small communities in a Cairo suburb. I think he makes every writer wish to tell the truth, whatever the genre, whatever the plot.
Q. All of the books you’ve read, which book has impacted you the most?
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.
Q. How do you like to spend your spare time?
I read: I love reading romantic novels – the thicker the book, the better.
I cook: I love cooking, using the various produce of our vegetable garden. Jams, chutneys, stuffed vine leaves (dolmadis), stuffed savoury and sweet filo pastry cushions that I serve as nibbles when I entertain, stewed fruit for winter crumbles. All for the freezer. The list could go on forever.
I entertain: I find nothing more satisfying that having friends over; and as I often travel, it’s great to catch up with all the news.
I travel: To research my books. I find it exciting and exhilarating. Discovering new places, new people, new traditions and new cuisines.
I collect antiques: Chinese porcelain, Japanese sculptures and French and Italian glass, so you will often find me rummaging in flea markets and dark second-hand shops in the hope of discovering a treasure.
I go for long walks: I love the countryside in England and the seafront in France especially. There are many places I go for inspiration or when I have writer’s block.
Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope that having come to know me a little your readers will be interested in reading The Echoes of Love and Burning Embers. I very much value feedback from readers, so if any of them would like to post a review or email me with comments, they should not hesitate to drop me a note at my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. While every writer must write for him-/herself, it’s important for me to know what my readers like (and dislike!) about my writing so I do not let them down as I continue to write more books.