Delving into Spanish history
I have always been fascinated by history, and my favourite aspect of writing a new novel (aside from dreaming up a hero par excellence, of course!) is researching the era and setting for the story.
For my trilogy Andalusian Nights that meant a fantastic research trip to Spain, and immersing myself in books, films, music – even the cuisine. The challenge was to encapsulate the spirit and realities of different times in history.
For Book 1, Indiscretion, that I enjoyed learning about what life was like in Andalusia in the 1950s. The story focuses on Alexandra, a half-English, half-Spanish girl who has grown up in England and comes to Spain to connect with her heritage. She steps into a world that is very different to that which she has known in England, more rustic, more impassioned and dramatic, and by far more steeped in customs and traditions. It is the latter which proves problematic for Alexandra: a woman in this time did not enjoy all the rights and freedoms we expect today – heaven forbid she commit an indiscretion. Machismo abounds, and Alexandra must struggle to assert herself as an independent woman in a society that demands women be good little wives and nothing more.
Masquerade, Book 2, tells the story of the next generation, with Alexandra’s daughter Luz as the protagonist. The year is 1976, and a new and exciting climate has sprung up in Spain following the death of the dictator Franco. Luz is essentially a heroine of the sexual revolution that swept through Spain at this time, challenging long-accepted values, rules and behaviour with regard to sexuality and relationships. What had been taboo, like the use of contraception and sex outside of marriage, became more acceptable, and women discovered hugely important new freedoms: the right to work, to own property, to have a personal account, to travel, to divorce: in short, to carve their own destinies. Imagine how it feels to be Luz in the midst of this massive social change. She can build a career; she can live independently; she can explore her sexuality. And yet… change is not quick, and many prejudices remain. Spain may be breaking down barriers for women to be themselves and follow their passions, but the taboo about falling for a gypsy is still deeply entrenched. Can Luz follow her heart and be herself, or will she be locked in a masquerade?
The final book in the series, Legacy, shifts to the more recent generation, where Andalusia is once more transformed by the galloping pace of progress. But does a more modern heroine have any easier a time of it when it comes to matters of the heart? How does her legacy define her and the choices she makes?
In truth, no matter the historical era and no matter the conditions in which heroines and heroes fall in love, I think the foundations of the story are the same. Love is love, whenever it blossoms – it is timeless, the common experience with which we all identify. Adversities change form; love does not. It is the one beautiful, soulful constant across history. It is what drives us on, what lifts us up, what defines us… and what impels me to write romance novels!
Introducing… Hannah Fielding
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 passionate, evocative novels: Burning Embers, a ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’, set in Kenya; the award-winning Echoes of Love, ‘an epic love story that is beautifully told’, set in Italy; and books 1 and 2 of the Andalusian Nights trilogy, set in sultry Spain, entitled Indiscretion and Masquerade. She is currently working on her fifth book, Legacy, which will publish this spring.