Do you write full-time?
Yes, whenever possible I write Monday to Friday and even at week-ends when I can get away with it. I have been doing so for some six years now, since I signed a publishing contract for my debut novel.
For years before that, I yearned to write full time, but my family’s needs came first, along with my property business. I only was able to give writing my full attention once my children had flown the nest and my company was more or less running itself. It’s wonderful to now have the time and space to write daily.
How is your day structured?
I am quite disciplined with my writing; I treat it as a job, which it is not… it is my life. Whenever possible, I follow a set structure for the day: admin/marketing hour at nine a.m., followed by writing through until six or seven o’clock in the evening, with an hour for lunch and sometimes a walk in the afternoon.
I do this for the nine months, on average, it takes me to write a novel (writing a book is a lot like having a baby, I always say). When I am between novels, editing the last one or preparing to write the next one, I may take more breaks or be away from my desk some days, researching and dreaming up ideas.
What’s the first thing you do once you switch on your computer?
I dedicate one hour each morning to administration and marketing work, and I do that first, so that I am free to get lost in my novel.
As the computer fires up, I set the timer on my phone to ensure I don’t go over time. Then I get to work: replying to emails, carrying out whatever tasks my publisher has requested I do, writing and scheduling blog and social media content (I blog twice a week, and post on my media channels at least once daily), and catching up with followers on Facebook and Twitter. I may just have time to check for any new reviews of my novels before – beep. Time is up.
How do you cope with interruptions?
Interruptions are infrequent; those around me know that when I am in my writing space, I prefer not to be disturbed unless absolutely essential. When interruptions do occur, I try to manage the frustration of being pulled from the creative flow by promising myself extra time to write later on, or the next day. I am also careful not to lose any ideas; if I am interrupted mid-flow, I will scribble down quickly what is on my mind before losing the thread.
How do you cope with procrastination?
I don’t allow myself to procrastinate on tasks that are important, such as writing a piece for my publisher. If the words are not flowing on a novel, it is usually because I am unwell, so I give myself the days off that I need to recover, and then I return to my structured writing day.
Do you do any talks, workshops, book signings or anything else which means you go out to promote your work? (Perhaps you can recount a specific signing/talk you gave.)
N/A – I don’t promote in person.
What would your perfect writing day be like?
One in which the muse is at my shoulder and the words fly out of me.
Do you get family/social time?
Absolutely; this is very important to me. Weekends are usually given over to family and to entertaining friends, and when an opportunity arises to spend time with my children and grandchildren during the week – in the summer holidays, for example – I adapt my writing schedule accordingly. Usually, that means getting up with the larks to write, and I enjoy the quiet of this time and the beauty of the sunrise.
Are you always chasing your own tail? Or are you organised?
Not at all; I am very organised. I am happiest when I have a plan and follow that plan. I find it hard to have the mental space to be creative if I am worrying about my ‘to do’ list, or lack thereof.
When did you first know you wanted to write?
Stories and writing have always been part of my life. My grandmother was a poet, my father a published author. Growing up, I lived in a house full of books, and my parents read to me regularly. My governess, too, was a storyteller. She used to invent 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.
How many books have you written and what is your latest title?
My latest novel, Aphrodite’s Tears, is a romance inspired by Greek mythology and set in one of my favourite corners of the globe: the Greek Islands. It’s the sixth novel I have published. My first, Burning Embers, was set in Kenya in the 1970s; my second, The Echoes of Love, was set in Venice at the turn of millennium; and the next three, Indiscretion, Masquerade and Legacy, form the Andalucían Nights trilogy, follows three generations of families in the Cadiz and Seville areas of Spain from the 1950s to the present day.
How do you begin writing a book?
I let the ideas come, doing all I can to be open to them. I am inspired by so many things: a wild, beautiful landscape, a piece of haunting music, a stranger’s face in the crowd. In the case of Aphrodite’s Tears, my visits to the Greek Islands over the years, my long-standing fascination with archaeology and my love of ancient mythology combined to create the basis for the story idea.
I always keep a notebook to hand, and I write down all ideas, until finally – that magical element of writing – the framework for a story begins to crystallise. Then I commence the planning.
How much planning and research do you do?
I research my books thoroughly by travelling to the place in which the plot is set and speaking to local people to get a complete feel of the mentality and culture. No aspect of a country is neglected: history, geography, architecture, music, cuisine, language, myths, customs and traditions, everything is thoroughly investigated. After having been through that first stage, I then complement it with information found in books and on the internet. The research only ends once I feel there is enough material there for me to begin planning – and I plan down to the smallest detail. I find this makes the writing so much easier and therefore so much more enjoyable. The plan is my map as I write.
What are you currently working on?
I have three books in the pipeline:
- A revenge story set in Luxor, Egypt, the land of my birth, a world of deeply ingrained customs and traditions, interesting though often cruel.
- A novel that tackles contemporary women’s problems and is set on the French Riviera and by beautiful Lake Como.
- A romance set in the beautiful scenery of Ireland, land of fairy-tales and legends.
Having already had huge success as one of the UK’s leading romance authors, “Aphrodite’s Tears” follows the award winning success of Hannah Fielding’s previous novels “Burning Embers,” “Echoes of Love,” “Masquerade,” “Legacy” and “Indiscretion.” “Echoes of Love” won Romance Novel of the Year at the IPB Awards in 2012. With its spectacular setting and deep emotional drama, Aphrodite’s Tears will appeal both to fans of her backlist, as well as lovers of atmospheric travel writing including Santa Montefiore, Penny Vincenzie, Victoria Hislop and Lucinda Riley.
Egyptian by birth, Hannah is fluent in French, English and Arabic and has lived all over the world. She currently lives between her writing retreat in the South of France and her rambling family home in Ireland. Hannah’s grandmother, Esther Fanous, was the revolutionary feminist writer in Egypt during the early 1900s and helped found the Women’s Wafd Central Committee in 1920.
ABOUT THE BOOK — Summer 1977, Oriel Anderson finds herself on the charming Greek island of Helios hoping to fulfill a long held dream or joining an archaeological dive team. Broken hearted after her university fiancé leaves her for her best friend, Oriel is determined to prove she can make it in a man’s world by heading up an all-male dive team on her first underwater dig.
Spending her days excavating a Roman shipwreck, surrounded by turquoise waters and scorching sunshine, Oriel thinks that she has found paradise, until she meets her employer and the owner of the Island, Damian Lekkas.
A widower, with a scarred face, Damian is a brooding presence on the island who instantly takes a shine to Oriel, but Oriel resolves to maintain a professional relationship between them. But the mercurial Damian has other ideas, and Oriel’s stay soon becomes a battle between her head and her heart.
When strange things start happening Oriel doesn’t know what to think. She learns that no other women who had come to work on the dive had lasted more than a few weeks, a young boy almost drowns on one of her dives, then one morning Oriel finds a dead songbird in her room, its throat slit. Finally out exploring the beaches Oriel becomes trapped in a cave. Is it all just a coincidence or is someone trying to send her a warning?
Find out more about the book HERE