Did you see the recent news story about a real-life Hogwarts, the school at which the Harry Potter series is set? Czocha Castle in Poland was transformed into a ‘College of Wizardy’ modelled on the school in JK Rowling’s books. One hundred and ninety fans from around the world came together to stay at the castle and study such imaginative subjects as fighting the dark arts, healing working with magical animals and studying the unspeakables. The event was so popular that it sold out quickly and the organisers have arranged further dates. (For a peek at the castle, see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/harry-potter/11283210/harry-potter-real-hogwarts.html.)
The participants were engaged in what is called live-action role play, an activity that is popular with ‘hardcore’ fantasy readers. Not everyone wants to go quite so far as wearing robes and waving wands, but many people still enjoy engaging in a fantasy world. Remaining with the Harry Potter world for a moment, a hotel in London recently created ‘Wizard Chamber’ bedrooms for guests looking to get a feel of Hogwarts (presumably, one doesn’t need to wear a pointy hat in order to stay).
Beyond the fantasy genre into romance, readers still want to engage with the story world. But what’s great about the romance genre is that in order to be part of the fantasy there is no need to go anywhere or do anything but read.
Reviewers of my books often comment on the sense of place that I create. For example, reviewers of The Echoes of Love have said:
Bringing Venice to life like never before… – TNT magazine
Hannah Fielding … manages to convey a perfect sense of time and place. – Jaffa Reads Too
While reading you feel like you are floating down the canals in Venice on a gondola… – Book loving Hippo
I still have that feeling that I was there, but I’ve never been in Venice or in Italy. – Books Are My Life
When I need a really good romantic story and need to travel I just have to go to Hannah Fielding’s books and BAM! – Miss Read-a-Lot
I truly felt immersed in Italy, the food, the scenery, and the architecture. Pure bliss…. – Carol Oates, author
Throughout the novel it is the mesmerizing background of Venice that took my breath away… The charm, the history, the Carnival season, and all that water, make this city one of the destinations I desire to visit one day, and through her wonderful storytelling skills, Fielding takes her readers there through her words. – Sharon’s Garden of Books
The book makes the reader want to visit Italy… The descriptions of the sights and sounds evoked such beautiful images. – Associated British Press
I am always delighted when a reader talks of being transported to the setting through my writing. For me, the setting is integral to the romantic atmosphere, so the more the reader identifies with it, the more romantic the reading experience. I write about beautiful, inspirational places to which I have travelled. Visiting Kenya or Italy is wonderful, but few people have the time or means to do so. I endeavour therefore in my writing to transport the reader in his or her imagination.
In fact, while the settings themselves are important to the stories, it is the sense of them that matters most. Which means that to enter the Hannah Fielding story world, all you need to do is find a place, any place, that you find beautiful and inspirational.
I suppose that is why I write true-to-life romance rather than fantasy. Schools of witchcraft and wizardry are the stuff of fairy tales – but love: it is magical, but real. And so it is that my story world is real, and accessible to each and every reader.