Hannah Fielding is 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: writing full time at her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breath-taking views of the Mediterranean.
To date, Hannah has published four novels: Burning Embers, ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’, set in Kenya; The Echoes of Love, ‘an epic love story that is beautifully told’ set in Italy; and Indiscretion and Masquerade (from the Andalusian Nights Trilogy), her fieriest novels yet. She is currently working on her forthcoming book, Legacy, the final title in the trilogy, which is due to be published in summer 2016.
My debut novel, Burning Embers, is set in wild and beautiful Kenya; my second book, The Echoes of Love, is set in a mysterious, wintry Venice. For my next books, a trilogy, I needed an altogether more vibrant and flamboyant setting, and for me there was only one choice: Spain.
I fell in love with Spain when I first visited the country in my twenties, and when I began writing I just knew I had to situate a love story there because it’s the perfect backdrop for epic, sweeping, evocative romance. Here are five compelling reasons for my setting in Indiscretion, Masquerade and the forthcoming Legacy (the Andalusian Nights trilogy):
The stunning scenery
From the opening of Indiscretion, when my heroine Alexandra sees Andalusia for the first time from the window of a train:
They were running over gently undulating ground, which rose and sank in larger billows. The yellow Guadalquivir followed the train all the way, through a valley that sometimes widened to the Sierras, blue mountains that walled the horizon, their bare sharp peaks and rainbow-coloured spears of rock – yellow, orange and crimson – stabbing the air. In the distance, Alexandra could see towns, very white, beyond the wheatlands and olive orchards that divided the landscape. One of these towns nestled brightly at the base of a hill, topped by a Moorish castle, golden against the blue sky.
I love the colours of the landscape especially; Andalusia is known for its pueblos blancos – white villages – and the sky and sea are so beautifully blue.
The historical context
Indiscretion is set in the 1950s, when Franco was in power, and consequently my heroine Alexandra is living in a society where women have few rights and ‘indiscretions’ are cause for scandal and heartbreak. Fast-forward to the 1970s and Masquerade, and Spain was undergoing massive social transformation in the wake of Franco’s death; my heroine Luz is therefore one of a new generation of women exploring freedom and sexuality.
The art scene
This is especially important in Masquerade, in which the heroine is writing a biography of a famous Surrealist artist. I was deeply inspired by the Surrealists, whose aim was to explore the line between dream and reality, especially the artists Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso – and the writer Federico García Lorca from whose work I quote in the epigraph to Indiscretion: ‘To burn with desire and keep quiet about it is the greatest punishment we can bring on ourselves.’
The importance of family
Family is an important theme in the Andalusian Nights trilogy (the title Legacy hints at this), and so where better to situate the story than in a country where roots are a source of great pride – and, sometimes, friction.
From the opening of the series: En la sangre hierve España sin fuego. (In Spain blood boils without fire.) This proverb says it all: Spanish is a land of deep passions, the perfect setting for fiery, dramatic romance. Olé!
1950s London. Alexandra, a young writer is bored of her suffocating but privileged life amongst the gilded balls and parties of Chelsea. Keen for an adventure, Alexandra travels to Spain to be reunited with her estranged Spanish family on a huge estate in Andalucía.
Arriving in sun-drenched southern Spain for the first time, Alexandra is soon caught up in the wild customs of the region. From bull fighting matadors and the mysterious Gypsy encampments in the grounds of the family’s estate, to the passionate dances of the region and the incredible horsemanship of the local caballeros, Alexandra is instantly seduced by the drama and passion of her new home.
When Alexandra inevitably falls for Salvador, the mercurial heir to her family’s estate and the region’s most eligible man, she finds herself entangled in a web of secrets, lies and indiscretion. Alexandra soon falls prey to scheming members of her own family, the jealousy of a beautiful marquésa and the predatory charms of a toreador, all intent on keeping the two lovers apart.
But nothing can prepare Alexandra for Salvador’s own dangerous liaisons with a dark-eyed Gypsy.
Can Alexandra trust that love will triumph, or will Salvador’s indiscretion be their undoing?
Summer, 1976. Luz de Rueda returns to her beloved Spain and takes a job as the biographer of a famous artist. On her first day back in Cádiz, she encounters a bewitching, passionate young gypsy, Leandro, who immediately captures her heart, even though relationships with his kind are taboo. Haunted by this forbidden love, she meets her new employer, the sophisticated Andrés de Calderón. Reserved yet darkly compelling, he is totally different to Leandro but almost the gypsy’s double. Both men stir unfamiliar and exciting feelings in Luz, although mystery and danger surround them in ways she has still to discover.
Luz must decide what she truly desires as glistening Cádiz, with its enigmatic moon and whispering turquoise shores, seeps back into her blood. Why is she so drawn to the wild and magical sea gypsies? What is behind the old fortune-teller’s sinister warnings about ‘Gemini’? Through this maze of secrets and lies, will Luz finally find her happiness… or her ruin?
Masquerade is a story of forbidden love, truth and trust. Are appearances always deceptive?