Friday 27 March 2015

Blog Tour: Indiscretion by Hannah Fielding

Title: Indiscretion 
Author: Hannah Fielding
Published: 25th March 2015
Publisher: London Wall Publishing

Today I am part of the brilliant Blog Tour for Indiscretion by Hannah Fielding with a Q&A. All the other tour stops are listed below so please do check them out for some other great content!

Q&A with Hannah Fielding

  1. Where did you first find the ideal for Indiscretion?

My romance with Spain began when I was in my early teens after I saw a film called Pleasure Seekers. The wonderful setting and atmospheric music made me dream and triggered my imagination. Then once I had visited that beautiful country the seeds for Indiscretion were sown.

  1. When Alexandra and Salvador first see each other, there is an instant connection. Do you believe in love at first sight? Do your characters?

I definitely believe in love at first sight; but it is not easy to explain. Some people deny its existence, claiming that it is mere sexual attraction and that it is impossible to sum up a person in an instant and want to spend the rest of your life with a stranger that you have seen for the first time. But in my view, the fact that love at first sight may be based on unreliable information does not mean that it is not an instance of passionately wild and intensive love.

Although they fight it, my characters in Indiscretion, like myself, believe in love at first sight… “An almost visible current leapt between them.” And again: “The stranger smiled faintly. If I tell you that I’ve been dreaming of this evening since the moment I first laid eyes on you, would you believe me?’ he asked earnestly, his steely irises peering at her through the narrow slits of his black mask.”

  1. One of the highlights of the book is the masked ball. How did you go about writing such an atmospheric moment?

Ever since I can remember I have been fascinated by masks and by masked balls. This fascination, I know, stems from a memory in my childhood.

When I was almost eight, my parents, my sister and my governess were coming back from Italy on the Italian liner Esperia. On the eve of us docking in Alexandria, a masked ball was organised. All day there reigned an atmosphere of excitement and festivity on the boat. Wall sconces, columns and cornices were being decorated with garlands of flowers and balloons, and tables in the main dining room were set with an array of cotillions, party favours: whistles, wonderful multicoloured paper hats and rolls of serpentine ribbons. Beautiful ladies and handsome men, including my parents, were busy trying on fabulous costumes and masks that conveyed a feeling of enigma that piqued my imagination.

Of course my sister and I were not allowed to attend the ball, which deeply upset me. My governess, Zula, promised that if we napped in the afternoon and also went early to bed, she would wake us up at around eleven o’clock at night to let us have a peek at the ball. Oh the excitement! My sister and I did as we were told and Zula kept her promise. Once we were bundled up in our pyjamas and red dressing gowns, she took us up to the ballroom where we stood behind a column watching, fascinated by the grand spectacle. Guests were laughing, talking, drinking, and dancing, twirling in a rainbow of costumes, some of them representing fairy tales that we recognised, others exhibiting rich clothes of the kings and queens whom we had read about in our history books. But all of them were wearing masks, which conveyed a surreal air of mystery and romance which has stuck in my mind all my life.

Since then I have attended the Venice Carnival and two masked balls – they are some of my favourite memories.

  1. Spain has a beautiful and glamorous history; what made you choose the 1950s in particular?

Although Indiscretion works as a standalone romance story in itself, it’s part of a trilogy. I decided to set Indiscretion in the fifties for three reasons:

     1) Because it is a period I know well
     2) Because those fifty or so years have seen major changes in society and therefore
         there is much to explore in terms of romance in that era
     3) Because I was so taken by Spain, especially Andalusia. All year you find azure skies, dazzling sunshine and sweetly fragranced gardens… colour, romance, emotion and the flamboyant figure of a flamenco dancer or the torero in the arena, sword and cape in hand beneath the scorching sun.

  1. As a writer, Alexandra is always looking around and taking notes in her head of everything. What is your favourite detail that you included in the book?

I am a great lover of architecture and especially of Moorish architecture. Moorish culture and legacy echoes through Indiscretion, which is set in Andalusia. From the architecture of places that Alexandra visits to the princess costume she wears to a masked ball, through Alexandra’s eyes, you see the detail of the legacy of this civilisation that first came to Spain in the eighth century AD, when an army crossed the Strait of Gibraltar from northern Africa, and conquered the country, then ruled it for some 800 years. During that time, they built a rich civilisation which shaped not only Spain as we know it today, but also elements of the modern world.

  1. In some ways, Alexandra is a very modern heroine. How do you balance writing a character that modern readers find appealing with a character that remains true to the time she lives in?

I think this is a challenge that any writer of historical fiction faces. I deliberately create plots and choose setting and eras that allow me to bestow on my heroine some modern sensibilities. Alexandra has come from being a woman of independent means – a successful writer – in 1950s London, which means when she comes to Andalusia she can hold on to some of the strong will and independence she has built up. But I’m also careful to make her a little lost in Spain, a little out of her depth away from home. You cast your heroine in a modern way when she’s at home, in her own setting; but then plunge her into an alien one that’s exciting and inspiring but also daunting and dangerous. Her reactions then form the balance between modern and ‘of the era’. In many ways, my heroines are caught in an interior battle between being ‘modern’ and being ‘old fashioned’ in terms of how they react to family responsibilities and to the men they meet.

  1. What made you decide to write a trilogy? What can you tell us about your next book?

I decided to write a trilogy because I love sagas. Furthermore, I was so taken by Spain that I knew that my inspiration would not stop at one book and I was giving myself the chance of writing a sequel or even a trilogy.

My next book, Masquerade, is the sequel to Indiscretion and it will take my readers to the next generation of the Rueda and de Falla families. It is set in the second half of the seventies and is the story of Luz, Alexandra’s daughter, living in the New Spain which has opened its borders to outsiders and is preparing to enter the European Union. It is set in a different era to that which Alexandra was thrown into, but one that nevertheless has its own problems. More fiery emotions, more colourful traditions, more outlandish ritual and a passionate love story to enjoy.

  1. What was the most interesting piece of research you learned that didn’t make it into the book?

Abanico, which is the ‘secret’ language of the hand fan that women in Spain have been using since the 19th century as an instrument of communication, a tool for flirtation and secret messages in an age when freedom of speech for women was totally restricted. It is said that this tradition was passed from mother to daughter to use in situations where conversation was not considered proper, and to prevent indiscretions when faced with lovers and potential suitors in a social situation. Depending on how the women held or moved their fans, men would understand what they were trying to say.

Just a few examples:

  • Open fan covering your chin: ‘I want to talk to you.’
  • Waving the fan very fast: ‘I really like you.’
  • Waving the fan slowly: ‘I am not interested’ or ‘I’m married.’
  • Open fan covering your nose: ‘I want to see you.’
  • Closed fan covering the heart: ‘I love you.’
  • Closed fan waving: ‘I am thinking about you.’
  • Moving the fan with the left hand: ‘They are watching us.’
  • Opening the fan slowly: ‘Come and talk to me.’

A big thank you to Hannah for stopping by the blog. Indiscretion is out now! 

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