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My latest blog posts

A rose by any other name…

Choosing names for the male and female protagonists in a novel is, I always think, an important element of the writing process. The right name conveys the character’s personality, wishes and dreams; the wrong name could hinder character development. When I write a novel, deciding names is one of the

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A sweet aphrodisiac recipe

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so goes the popular saying. Well, I think there’s a little more to attraction and love than that, but I do believe that certain foods and drinks act as aphrodisiacs for both men and women. (The word aphrodisiac, in case

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Writing: creator versus editor

I think all writers have two parts within: an editor and a creator. Often, the two work in synergy to produce writing you’re happy with. Sometimes, though, the two seem mutually incompatible. The creator, as I call it, is the part of me that’s inspired (by the muse, you could

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African beliefs: The afterlife

In my Burning Embers, Coral’s father, ‘The White Pirate’, has died leaving her the legacy of his plantation, Mpingo. Coral’s old yaha (nanny), Aluna, is a native African lady who subscribes to the legends and traditional beliefs of her home, Kenya. And we see in the book that she is

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The kindness of strangers

A stolen glance across a crowded train; a shy smile as you pass each other by on a windswept cliff path; a brush of hands as you reach for the same apple outside the grocer’s – you see a stranger, and you feel something. A connection forms as naturally as

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Burning Embers, the song

‘Egosurfing’, they call it – Googling yourself. It’s not something I had ever done before this week, but with my upcoming book I decided, one particularly gloomy afternoon, to browse the internet for mentions of myself and the book. And it was whilst looking at results for ‘Burning Embers’ that

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Favourite films: Legend of 1900 and August Rush

I love music, and I love films in which music plays an integral role.   Have you seen Legend of 1900? If not, I wholeheartedly recommend you do so (I understand it’s available in DVD format for a very reasonable price online). This is a life-affirming, heart-warming, touching tale told

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Le Jaguar

In earlier blog entries I have written of the poetry of Leconte De Lisle.  De Lisle writes with such passion of exotic locations and the beasts that stalk them, and as I wrote of the setting and the animals in Burning Embers, set in Kenya, I found myself often drawn

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Love at first sight?

I am, of course, a romantic at heart – what romance novelist isn’t? But in today’s fast-paced era of busy people hurtling around in their busy lives; of connecting to people via the internet and mobile phone more than face to face (even arranging dating online); of rising divorce rates

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A slice of summer

It’s a gloomy autumnal day here in Kent, so I’ve been cheering myself up by looking through pictures of this summer. Here’s a shot of our pool in Kent, where I do a lot of dreaming and writing.

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Kenyan recipe: Mango ice cream with pineapple rum sauce

Earlier this month I posted a recipe for delicious groundnut soup – a traditional dish eaten in Africa. But what meal is complete without a little something sweet to finish? In Burning Embers, the protagonist, Coral, savours the ripe, succulent mangos that are grown in the area surrounding her homestead

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Chasing rainbows

Yesterday, as I was sitting at my desk typing, I took a break to gaze out at the dark grey sky lit by a beautiful golden sun, and was rewarded by a stunning full-arch, vivid rainbow in the sky. Nature at its most beautiful. I gazed into the sky until

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The hunter and his prey

Africa, the setting for Burning Embers, is of course a country famous for hunting. Natives have hunted to survive since the earliest days of the continent’s inhabitation, and the vast array of large, dangerous wildlife there created a real pull for white hunters, keen to demonstrate their prowess by gunning

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Coral’s doppelganger: Twiggy

When I was growing up, one of my favourite pastimes was visiting the cinema.  My governess, Zula, bless her, was just as romantic as I, and would accompany me to see the latest love story on the big screen. When I was twelve, South Pacific was released, and I must

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Swahili love poem

In researching Burning Embers, I read a lot of books on aspects of African culture.  I was particularly fascinated by the stark honesty of many folk tales and proverbs of this area of the world – no euphemism and delicate delivery; often, the message is loud and clear. For example,

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Put the coffee on

How many cups of coffee does it take to write a romance novel? The answer, for me, is many indeed – but they must be of the very best beans.   In Burning Embers, which is set in and around Mombasa in Kenya, Coral is invited to stay at a

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Sweet nothings

If, like me, you have a sweet touch, you’ll appreciate a shop dedicated to nothing but delicious, melt-in-the-mouth flavours that transport you back to the carefree days of childhood. The window of my local sweet shop looks like this… Can you blame me for wandering in for a humbug or

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The setting for Burning Embers: Mombasa

My novel Burning Embers is set in Mombasa in Kenya, on the east coast of the African continent. Because my book is a novel, not a travel or history guide, there is little room there to explore the many facets of this interesting town. So here I provide some nuggets

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Favourite poems: La Jungle

In an earlier blog entry (29 September) I introduced you to the poetry of Leconte De Lisle, a nineteenth-century French poet who has inspired my writing with his vivid, evocative imagery. I have always been a descriptive writer; I enjoy imagining how a setting looks, sounds and smells and then

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African proverbs: “A good name is better than riches”

In an early blog entry I explained that while researching my book, Burning Embers, I read a lot about Africa – including books on proverbs. In any culture, proverbs are a poetic and memorable way to impart wisdom. I’ve decided to run a series of book exploring a proverb in turn,

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A riveting read

Confession time: one of my hobbies is reading dictionaries. Certainly not as comforting and engaging as a romance novel, but it’s amazing what you learn when you read a few pages.  

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Respect your elders?

In Burning Embers, Coral is reunited with her former ‘yaha’ (nanny) Aluna when she comes back to the childhood home she left in her youth. There is, at once, an interesting dynamic between the two women – one white, naive, young and wealthy who has grown up chiefly in England;

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Music to write books by: Fausto Pappeti

I love music: it has such power to move, to affect, to inspire. When I write at my desk, I often have music on in the background – carefully selected to reflect the mood of the particular chapter I’m writing. In Burning Embers, as well as running a prosperous plantation,

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African recipe: Groundnut Soup

Food has always been a rich source of pleasure for me; I have wide-ranging tastes and enjoy the thrill of sampling a new cuisine. I subscribe to the school of thought that believes a direct connection exists between stomach and heart: an intimate meal between characters comprising succulent, delicious food

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It’s romance, but what kind? Deciding the genre for my novel

I’ve recently been involved in an interesting discussion with my publisher, Omnific, about what genre my upcoming novel Burning Embers fits into. My book is a love story, so categorising it as romance is no problem; but what sub-category within which to situate the book?   The list of sub-genres

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Inspired by nature

The bay at St Tropez on a wild and stormy day – little wonder that after seeing this tempestuous, magnificent power of nature I went home and added a storm to the chapter I was writing.

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The perfect man…

Last month the Guardian reported on an interesting survey undertaken by the Festival of Romance, an international convention on romantic fiction. They interviewed 58 romantic novelists to find out what qualities are important in a man. These were the results: The perfect man, according to romantic novelists (% agreeing), is:

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The poetry of Leconte De Lisle

The seeds of inspiration for the verdant setting of my novel Burning Embers were sown way back at school when I was introduced to the flamboyant poetry of Charles-Marie Leconte De Lisle, better known as simply Leconte De Lisle, who was the leader of the group of French poets called

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Through a child’s eyes

‘Write about what you know’ is the advice given to any fledgling writer, and it’s certainly wisdom I have tried to take on board in my development as a writer. The action in my novel Burning Embers begins on a cruise ship bound for Mombasa. Coral, the protagonist, is gazing

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Favourite places: Dover Castle

The nearest town to my home in Kent is Dover. I love spending afternoons wandering around the magnificent 12-century Dover Castle which stands majestically above the White Cliffs for which the town is famous.

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My latest blog posts

Three-year blogging anniversary, and a Twitter book giveaway

This month marks three years since I began the Hannah Fielding blog. How time has flown, and how this blog has grown! In the past three years, I’ve written some 725 blog posts. Averaging, say, 500 words per post, that’s 362,500 words! I’ve so enjoyed having the opportunity to write

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The Venice Film Festival

It’s that time of year again: the Venice Film Festival, running from 27 August to 6 September. Did you know that the Venice Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world? It was first held back in 1932 (the first film shown was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde),

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Deepening romance with the male point of view

                  When a reader picks up a traditional romantic novel, she/he has certain basic expectations: That the theme of love will permeate the story. That in the story woman/girl will meet man/boy and fall in love, but encounter obstacles to that love.

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Much Ado About Jack by Christy English

From the blurb: How to Become London’s Most Notorious Widow: 1. Vow to NEVER remarry 2. Own a ship and become fabulously wealthy 3. Wear the latest risqué fashions in your signature color 4. Do NOT have a liaison at the Prince Regent’s palace with a naval captain whose broad

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How we read ebooks: A new digital-versus-print development

Recently the Guardian reported on a study on retention of digital reads versus paper reads. Researchers gave participants an Elizabeth George short story. Twenty-five readers read the story in a paperback novel format. Twenty-five read it on a Kindle. Afterwards, the academics tested the readers’retention of objects, characters and settings.

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For the love of colour

We read in black and white: black text on a white page, be it a paper one or a virtual ‘e-page’ on a screen. But the stories themselves are not black and white, not metaphorically and not – please, never! – descriptively. Any student of literature knows that description is

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An introduction to the Roman gods

My latest book, The Echoes of Love, is set in Italy: Venice, Tuscany and Sicily. I love Italy for its passion, its beauty, its long and fascinating history, its rich and inspiring cultural heritage… and that which symbolises all: Roman mythology. The Echoes of Love is a modern novel, set

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A brief history of the book bloggers

I love book bloggers! I love book bloggers because of their passion, their hard work, their integrity, their sensibility and their support for authors; and I love book bloggers because I am part of that community as a book reviewer myself. But how did that community come about? Today, I’m

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Book review: Flawless by Jan Moran

Astute, intelligent, gripping romance for the modern woman. From the first page I was entirely hooked. I love, love the world in which the story is situated. The author so expertly transports you to Beverly Hills and, for a period, Paris, and offers a glimpse of glamour while showing those

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The Ferragosto

Were I to write now a scene for the characters of my latest novel, The Echoes of Love, set in Italy, it would include them relaxing and enjoying today’s public holiday, the Ferragosto. Celebrated each 15th August, the Ferragosto is a favourite holiday in Italy – so much so that

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The return of serialised literature

We’re all familiar with serial dramas on the television, but books? Once, reading a story one instalment at a time was wildly popular. Back in Victorian England, for example, books themselves were premium items – expensive and requiring risky investment from publishers. Thus it was easier to break down a

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The language of romance

I grew up speaking French, predominantly – it was the language used at my school, for example. But because I lived in Egypt, it was essential I could speak Arabic. My parents insisted on my being fluent in English. And my half-French, half-Italian governess was careful to perfect my French

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Walking for walking’s sake

Is the modern Western world of technology and ever-faster transport making us forget the joy of walking – just walking, for the joy of it? Should we all walk more, not just for our physical health, but to inspire and soothe mind and soul? It’s an idea increasingly explored. Take

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The pace of writing, then and now

I have bookshelves bursting with books at home – with old, well-thumbed titles whose authors are long-departed, and with smart, new books whose authors are busy writing more, more, more. I love both kinds of books, but as I sit at my writing desk, pondering a scene in my latest

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The art of people-watching for writers

I take researching the settings of my novels seriously (why not, when it allows me to travel to amazing places!), and by far my favourite aspect of the research is people-watching. I think all writers are observers of life, and truthfully few are happier than when ensconced in a café

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Touched to the Heart by Elsa Winckler

From the blurb: Discover beautiful South Africa in this sweet, heart-warming Cinderella story about a blogger, a billionaire, and one chance meeting. When it comes to men, if physiotherapist Caitlin Sutherland didn’t have bad luck, she would have no luck at all. To help cope, Caitlin starts blogging in her

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My latest blog posts

Stepping back into the Roman Empire in Andalucía

There is so much that drew me to the Spanish region of Andalucía when it came time to choose a setting for my romantic trilogy. But given that core themes in the trilogy are roots and legacies, the rich history of the Andalucía was a big attraction. Andalucía is steeped

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Flamingos: striding into the imaginary

Here’s a little quiz question for you: Which bird features in my novel Burning Embers, set in Kenya, and my novel Indiscretion, set in Spain? No doubt the photograph has given away the answer! Yes, it is the flamingo. In Burning Embers, the heroine Coral takes a balloon ride over

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What am I reading? That’s private

‘Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.’ So wrote satirist P. J. O’Rourke. Of course, he was joking. We should read whatever we want to read! But I think this quotation touches on a very real discomfort in readers over being judged for reading choices.

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Castanets and Spanish folk dancing

Andalucían culture features prominently in my recent novels, Indiscretion, Masquerade and Legacy, especially in relation to music and dance, which is characterised by a single emotion: passion. As Salvador tells Alexandra in Indiscretion: ‘Spanish flamenco is the embodiment of passion. Some people say that music is at its best when

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The feel-good factor of giving books

I love books. I love to browse books, choose books, purchase books, collect books – and, of course, read books! If, like me, you are a bibliophile, you will know well the happiness a book can bring: finding a hidden treasure in a second-hand bookstore, eagerly buying your favourite author’s

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Thought piece: on DOING good

  How to Do Good: Essays on Building a Better World, published by my publisher, London Wall, is a collection of essays by thought leaders, celebrities, statesmen and women, Nobel prize winners, social entrepreneurs, philanthropists and others who are driving and inspiring positive change. Each month, I’m focusing on one

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The Moorish legacy in Andalucía

Each of the Spanish regions has its own unique culture and history; but for me, the most beautiful and fascinating of them all is Andalucía. This southernmost region has a distinctive look and feel influenced by a history of Moorish occupation. It is a place characterised by legacy, and thus

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