Hello Readers : )
It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to interview another fellow author and glad to be able to present my devoted readers with just that. Today I have the author of Burning Embers, as a guest on my blog. Please enjoy this amazing interview plus a book spotlight from her latest novel.
Coral Sinclair is a beautiful but naïve twenty-five-year-old photographer who has just lost her father. She’s leaving the life she’s known and traveling to Kenya to take ownership of her inheritance – the plantation that was her childhood home – Mpingo. On the voyage from England, Coral meets an enigmatic stranger to whom she has a mystifying attraction. She sees him again days later on the beach near Mpingo, but Coral’s childhood nanny tells her the man is not to be trusted. It is rumored that Rafe de Monfort, owner of a neighboring plantation and a nightclub, is a notorious womanizer having an affair with her stepmother, which may have contributed to her father’s death. Circumstance confirms Coral’s worst suspicions, but when Rafe’s life is in danger she is driven to make peace. A tentative romance blossoms amidst a meddling ex-fiancé, a jealous stepmother, a car accident, and the dangerous wilderness of Africa. Is Rafe just toying with a young woman’s affections? Is the notorious womanizer only after Coral’s inheritance? Or does Rafe’s troubled past color his every move, making him more vulnerable than Coral could ever imagine? Set in 1970, this contemporary historical romance sends the seemingly doomed lovers down a destructive path wrought with greed, betrayal, revenge, passion, and love.
The plane was in the air for more than an hour. They flew over blue lakes, torrents, and streams that snaked through the vast plains, and long savannahs with dry river beds foaming, great gashes of red, yellow, and white in the earth. At last they came out on a glade. Coral could see a narrow brook and a darker fringe of immense acacias down at the bottom. Slopes of golden grass over six feet high lay on either side of the watercourse. Up behind came solid gray cliffs; their silvery peaks rose and vanished into the heavens, holding captive the sagging mist of the afternoon.
The plane touched down in a valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains, and though the scenery was dramatically beautiful, for some reason Coral felt uneasy.
“It’s taken us a little longer than I thought,” Rafe said as he pushed open the cockpit cabin roof door, braced his feet on the wing of the plane, and jumped to the ground, “but we’ve arrived.” Coral wriggled out of her seat and gingerly stepped onto the wing, sitting on it for a moment as she scanned the surroundings. There was something eerie about the place, as though they were not alone — the uncomfortable sensation that they were being stared at by wild creatures — and she had a vague sense of foreboding. A shadow must have touched her face because Rafe frowned. “Is anything the matter? You seem troubled.”
Coral smiled down at him, not wanting to spoil the moment. “It’s very wild, very beautiful. You seem to have a predilection for enchanting, remote places.”
“In fact, this place isn’t as remote as you might think — it’s on the edge of a Masai village. There’s actually a road not far from here that runs straight to Narok, close to Lady Langley’s plantation.”
Rafe raised his arms to help her off the aircraft. He lifted her toward him, and she felt his strong torso against her breasts. She could sense a heart thumping uncontrollably; was it hers, or his, or both? She couldn’t tell. As he set her down, she gazed up at him. “Oh, Coral, don’t look at me with those eyes. I can’t vouch for my reaction if you do,” he said, his voice sensually low. He let go of her shoulders, gently pushing her away a little. Taking a hamper and a blanket out of the plane, he added, “Let’s have a spot of lunch and a glass of wine.”
Though the afternoon sunshine was beginning to fade, the air was still hot and heavy. Coral was struck by the awesome silence that surrounded them. Not a bird in sight, no shuffle in the undergrowth, even the insects were elusive. They climbed a little way up the escarpment over the plateau and found a spot that dominated the view of the whole glade. Rafe spread out the blanket under an acacia tree. They ate some chicken sandwiches and eggs and polished off the bottle of cordial. They chatted casually, like old friends, about unimportant mundane things, as though they were both trying to ward off the real issue, to stifle the burning embers that were smoldering dangerously in both their minds and their bodies.
All the while, Coral had been aware of the need blossoming inside her, clouding all reason with desire. She could tell that he was fighting his own battle. Why was he holding back? Was he waiting for her to make the first move? Rafe was laying on his side, propped up on his elbow, his head leaning on his hand, watching her through his long black lashes. The rhythm of his breathing was slightly faster, and she could detect a little pulse beating in the middle of his temple, both a suggestion of the turmoil inside him. Rafe put out a hand to touch her but seemed to change his mind and drew it away. Coral stared back at him, her eyes dark with yearning, searching his face.
The shutters came down. “Don’t, Coral,” Rafe whispered, “don’t tease. There’s a limit to the amount of resistance a man has.”
A flash of long blue lightning split the sky, closely followed by a crash of thunder. Coral instinctively threw herself into Rafe’s arms, hiding her face against his broad chest. She had always had a strong phobia of thunderstorms. Now she knew why the place had seemed eerie, why there had been no bird song or insect tick-tocks, no scuffling and ruffling in the undergrowth. Even though the skies when they entered the valley had not foretold the electrical storm that was to come, just like with the animals, her instinct had told her that something was wrong. But she had been too distracted by the turbulence crackling between her and Rafe to pay attention to the changing sky.
Rafe, too, was shaken out of his daze and turned his head to see that the sun had dropped behind the mountain. Dense clouds had swept into the valley and were hanging overhead like a black mantle.
“Where did that come from? No storm was forecast for today?” he muttered, jumping up.
There was another tremendous peal of thunder, lightning lit up the whole glade, and again another crash. Then the heavy drops of rain came hammering down against the treetops, pouring down through the foliage.
A wind was starting up. Without hesitation, Rafe folded the blanket into a small bundle and tucked it under his arm. He slung the hamper over his shoulder, and lifting Coral into his arms, he climbed his way up to the next level of the escarpment where a ledge of rock was jutting out and found the entrance to a cave where they could shelter. Coral was shivering. She tucked her face into his shoulder, her fingers tightly gripping his shirt. She was completely inert, paralyzed by fear. They were both drenched.
There was no way they would be able to get back to Narok tonight. Coral knew from her childhood that storms were always long in this part of the country, and through her panic she prayed that he wouldn’t be piloting that little plane back in this howling gale. At least here they were protected from the storm. It was not yet completely dark. Rafe looked around, still holding her tightly against him. Coral couldn’t herself as she sobbed uncontrollably.
“Shush, it’s all right,” he whispered softly in her ear. “It’s only a storm. By tomorrow morning it’ll all be over.” He brushed her tears away as more fell. “I’m going to have to set you down for a moment, Coral. I need to light us a fire and get you out of those wet clothes.”
Hannah was kind enough to sit and answer a few questions for me and here’s what she had to say,
1) Would you tell the reader a little about yourself?
I was born in Alexandria, Egypt, a city founded in the year 332 B.C. by order of Alexander the Great, a Greek king of Macedonia. The rambling house I grew up in was built on a hill facing the Mediterranean, commanding the most breathtaking views of the ever-changing sea, with its glowing sunsets and romantic moonlit nights overlooking a scintillating ocean.
I went to a convent school, and after I graduated with a BA in French literature, my international nomadic years started. I lived mainly in Switzerland, France and England, and holidayed in other Mediterranean countries like Italy, Greece and Spain. After falling in love with my husband, we settled in a Georgian house in Kent where I brought up two children, while looking after horses and dogs and running my own business renovating rundown cottages.
My children have now flown the nest and my husband and I spend half our time in our Georgian rectory in Kent and the rest in our home in the South of France which overlooks the Mediterranean.
2) Which project are you currently promoting?
I am currently promoting Burning Embers, which was published in April this year by Omnific Publishing. It is a contemporary historical romantic novel set in Kenya in 1970.
3) Can you tell us what the book is about?
Coral Sinclair is a beautiful but naïve twenty-five-year-old photographer who has just lost her father. She’s leaving the life she’s known and travelling to Kenya to take ownership of her inheritance – the plantation that was her childhood home – Mpingo.
On the voyage from England, Coral meets an enigmatic stranger to whom she has a mystifying attraction. She sees him again days later on the beach near Mpingo, but Coral’s childhood nanny tells her the man is not to be trusted. It is rumoured that Rafe de Monfort, owner of a neighbouring plantation and a nightclub, is a notorious womanizer having an affair with her stepmother, which may have contributed to her father’s death.
Circumstance confirms Coral’s worst suspicions, but when Rafe’s life is in danger she is driven to make peace. A tentative romance blossoms amidst a meddling ex-fiancé, a jealous stepmother, a car accident, and the dangerous wilderness of Africa.
Is Rafe just toying with a young woman’s affections? Is the notorious womanizer only after Coral’s inheritance? Or does Rafe’s troubled past colour his every move, making him more vulnerable than Coral could ever imagine?
4) How did you come up with the title of this book?
It came to me one evening while we were having a campfire in the garden and I was watching the incandescent embers. The fire was by no means dead – it was just smouldering there quietly, giving out a strong glow from time to time like the passions of Coral and Rafe, my heroine and hero.
5) What inspired you to write 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 years 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. Add to that my journey to Kenya and Mr Wangai’s enthralling stories and it was impossible for me not to be inspired, and when I put pen to paper, Burning Embers was born.
I have had some of Leconte de Lisle’s beautiful poems translated by a friend Mr John Harding. You can find them on my website at http://www.hannahfielding.net/?cat=7.
6) Did you have the main character’s names already picked out before you began to write?
Yes, more or less. I chose the name Coral because of the beautiful coral reefs of Kenya. My hero started off by being called Ralph, but then I thought that Rafe would be more appropriate to his roguish personality.
What can you tell us about your main characters?
Coral could at first come across as a spoilt brat. But there is more to Coral than meets the eye. She has had a protected upbringing, but she has also had many blows. The abrupt change she had to suffer at the age of nine when she had to leave the open spaces of Africa for the confinement of boarding school in England; the divorce of her parents; the remarriage of her mother; the birth of siblings to this new marriage; and finally, her own broken engagement. All this has made her insecure, and that is why sometimes she reacts so childishly to her surroundings and to Rafe. Even though she is naïve emotionally, and her fiery, passionate and rebellious nature pushes her sometimes to extreme behaviour, she is intelligent and very competent at her work as a photographer, which she takes very seriously. Still, through the book Coral learns to grow up the hard way, and blossoms into an understanding, compassionate and generous woman.
Rafe is the Alpha man par excellence. He is handsome, a successful entrepreneur, commanding, strong and kind. But he is a notorious womaniser and there is a darkness to him that is present all through the book and caused by a troubled past that is reflected in everything he does and says. A passionate man with a strong sense of right and wrong, his love for Coral is so deep that it brings him almost to the door of death.
7) Did you have to do any research in order to help you with the writing of this book?
Even though I have a pretty good knowledge of the places I situate my novels in, I always research my books thoroughly to make sure the facts are right.
8) What made you decide to become a writer?
Stories and writing have always been part of my life. My father was a great raconteur and my governess used to tell the most fabulous fairy stories – I could listen to them for hours. When I was seven she and I came to an agreement: for every story she’d tell me I would invent one in return. That is how my passion for storytelling began.
At school I consistently received first prize for my essays and my teachers often read them aloud in class. As a teenager I used to write short romantic stories during lessons and circulate them in class, which made me very popular with my peers (but less so with the nuns!). In addition, since a young age I have kept some sort of a diary where I note my feelings, ideas and things that take my fancy (or not).
My grandmother was a published author of poetry and my father published a book about the history of our family, so writing runs in my veins. I guess I always knew that one day I would follow in those footsteps and forge my own path in that field – a subconscious dream which finally came true.
9) What genre do you generally write?
I am romantic, passionate and imaginative, therefore I write romantic novels, because that is also the genre I most enjoy reading.
10) Are you interested in writing other genres?
Not for the moment. My writing comes from the heart – I must feel before I write, and love and the passions it creates in people are what touch me most.
11) Do you have a routine when you begin to write a scene or chapter? Do you have a general idea of what direction you want the plot to take ahead of time, or does it come to you once you’ve started writing?
Yes, I have a very rigid routine which has served well. Having researched my facts thoroughly, I plan my novel down to the smallest detail. 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. Planning ahead, I have found, makes the writing so much easier and therefore so much more enjoyable. I use my plan as a map. I never set out on a long journey by car without a map, and the same applies to my writing.
12) How long does it usually take for you to write a book?
With the research and the detailed planning included, it takes me almost a year to write a book.
13) What character out of your most recent work do you admire the most and why?
It would be too easy for me to choose Rafe, my Alpha man hero, who in my eyes represents the perfect man. 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 who 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!
14) Have you ever had second doubts about a story you’ve written? If so, have you wanted to rewrite some parts of it?
The answer is no, because I make sure my plan is really tight before I start and I try to discipline myself to stick to it. Whenever in the past I have tried to change the story midway, it was immediately clear that I would come unstuck at the end.
15) Are there any authors you admire? What are your favourite titles from this or other authors?
I enjoy reading many authors, but maybe the one closest to my heart is M.M. Kaye, author of The Far Pavilions and The Shadow of the Moon. Why? Because of her fabulous descriptions which transport you to a time and a place as if you are there and then. If you have not read her books, I do recommend them… pure escapism… pure romance. See http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1040250.M_M_Kaye.
16) Have you written any series?
Look out for my sizzling and sensual trilogy, a romance that is set in Andalucia, Spain, spanning a period that will take the reader from the 1950s to the present day. It is 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.
17) What other projects are you currently working on?
I am now working on a trilogy set in Egypt, which will take my readers from 1945 to the present day, transporting them to a world of deeply ingrained customs and traditions, interesting though often cruel, and making them live through the various winds and storms that blew over this very ancient land.
18) When you begin a new MS, does it start with an idea, concept, or both?
It start with an idea, which I usually obsess on until it is clear in my mind and then I develop it into a detailed plan.
19) Once you begin to work on a new MS, do you have the ending already mapped out or do you envision it as the story progresses?
As I have said above, I work to a very detailed and strict plan. I must know the ending to be able to develop my story – for me, doing otherwise does not work.
20) Are there any writing styles you prefer?
I like to write in a descriptive style because that is what my French education gave me and that is what I like most to read. I try to convey to the reader every detail my imagination is conjuring up – all the senses are involved, so that the reader can form a clear picture of the setting in which the plot takes place and grasp a better understanding of the characters and their reactions. I am careful to use the right word and I am always looking for the nuance that will best describe what I am trying to put across. This could be due to the rigorous training of my French education. The nuns at my school, and later my teachers at university, were very strict about style.
21) Did you self-publish? If not, is that something you will be willing to consider in the future?
I did not self-publish. Omnific Publishing were kind enough to believe in me and give me my first chance. With the stigma on self-publishing disappearing in our modern world as there is no such thing any more as vanity publishing, I do not rule the option out.
22) What is your least favorite part about getting published?
I don’t particularly enjoy the editing part. Still, I would say that I find the marketing part the most difficult. Sometimes it can make you feel like a very small fish in a vast ocean!
23) Was the road to publication a long one for you?
No. I was lucky to have Omnific Publishing give me a chance after only six months of searching for a publisher.
24) Do you use a pen name? If so, why?
Yes, I do. As a tribute to my father, who always encouraged me to write, who told me that one day I would be a published author, but who passed away before he could see my dream come true. His name was Hanna – I just added the h at the end.
25) Where do you see yourself in five years?
As an author with a readership of millions, of course!
26) What is the best advice you can give to a new author?
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.
27) Where can the readers find more information about you?
- My website: www.hannahfielding.net
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/fieldinghannah
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fieldinghannah
- Goodreads (for reviews of Burning Embers): http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5333898.Hannah_Fielding
- Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com (for reviews of Burning Embers)
About the author:
I grew up in a rambling house overlooking the Mediterranean. My earliest memories are of listening, enchanted, to fairy stories at the knee of my half-French half-Italian governess Zula. When I was seven we came to an agreement: for each story she told me, I would invent and relate one of my own. That is how my love for story-telling began.
Later, at a convent school, while French nuns endeavored to teach me grammar, literature and math, I took to day-dreaming and wrote short romantic stories to satisfy the needs of a fertile imagination. Having no inhibitions, I circulated them around the class, which made me very popular among my peers and less so with the nuns.
After I graduated with a BA in French literature, my international nomadic years commenced. I lived mainly in Switzerland, France and England, where I had friends and family, and during holidays I travelled to Mediterranean countries like Italy, Greece and Spain.
I met my husband in London at a drinks party: it was love at first sight, just like in the romance books that were my constant companions. He brought me to his large Georgian rectory in Kent, surrounded by grounds and forests. After my children were born, between being a mother and running a property business, there was little time for day dreaming, let alone writing.
Then, once my children had flown the nest, I decided after so many years of yearning to write, write, write it was time to dust off the old manuscripts I’d been tinkering with for a lifetime and finish my first novel, based on my knowledge of Kenya. And thus, Burning Embers flowed onto the page.
Today, I am living the dream: I write full-time, splitting my time between my homes in Kent and in the South of France, where I dream up romances overlooking breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.