Hannah Fielding is a writer, a reader, a traveller, a dreamer and a devoted romantic. Her debut novel, Burning Embers, is an evocative and passionate story of coming of age, of letting go of the past, of having faith in a person and of overcoming obstacles to love, set against the vivid and colourful backdrop of rural Africa and its culture. Hannah blogs and reviews romance novels at http://www.hannahfielding.net.
Places and sights have always been a rich source of inspiration for me in my writing. I was lucky enough to grow up in a house with a view of the Mediterranean, and even as a young child I remember staring out at the sparkling blue and dreaming up romantic fairytales. Then, as a young woman, I began travelling, and a whole world of romance opened up to me. First Kenya – wild, colourful, exotic – which would become the setting of my debut romance novel, Burning Embers. Time spent in Italy, Spain and Greece informed my next novels, and then there was Switzerland, France, England, Egypt. With all this wonderful fodder for the imagination, I could just write and write…
And I do – every day, I sit down and write. But exactly where I write is of paramount importance to my getting into the right mindset to write evocative, vivid, passionate romance. I can’t write it in a cold, dark, soulless office. I can’t write it with a view of a brick wall. I can write when my surroundings are in themselves romantic.
My husband and I split our time between two homes, one in Kent, England, and the other on the Côte d’Azur, France. Both homes were carefully chosen for their inspirational and beautiful architecture, the lands that surround them and their views – views are very important for a writer, I believe. In this post, I’ll share with you my writing spaces, to give you a glimmer of what’s before my eyes when I’m dreaming up the first meeting of two people destined to be soulmates, or a first kiss shared on a moonlit beach, or a sunset framing lovers walking off into their happy-ever-after.
I live in an old rectory, which my husband and I bought two decades ago and restored from a shell into a comfortably, cosy family home. There are several places here in which I love to write. In summer, when the weather is fine, I sit in the garden – on one of the benches under shady trees, or at a patio table in the gardens. The orangery is a retreat for when the sun is too fierce or clouds cool the skies. In winter, I love to write by the log fire in the main house.
If I need a break or inspiration, I take a walk around the grounds, enjoying the flowers, visiting the ducks on the pond, or wandering through the woods. I especially love it when snow blankets the ground; our village church, right by the house, is picture-postcard perfection then.
Ste Maxime, France
My French mas is set on a hill that affords wonderful views over the bay of St Tropez. Here I draw my inspiration very much from the vivid colours of the house and the landscape around. Whether I am inside or outside writing, I am always positioned so that I can see the sea – the Mediterranean of my childhood. Here, I write in the drawing room and at my desk, which has the most beautiful view of the sea, and all around the grounds. I also spend a lot of time at the beach, sitting for hours dreaming and plotting, and in the many pavement cafes in nearby towns, where I can sip a café latté and people-watch to my heart’s content.
But the greatest inspiration for me at my French home is the sun. Here, I see the most breathtaking sunrises and sunsets imaginable. Every time I sit on the verandah and watch Nature play out its most magical show, I cannot fail to fall in love with the place, with the world, with the very notion of romance – and from there, the writing flows onto the page.
Do you agree that writing setting infuses book setting? When you read a book, do you have a sense of where the writer was when he/she wrote? If you write, does place matter? How important is setting in a book, do you think?
I would love to hear your thoughts.