by Hannah Fielding
I don’t think I ever set out to ‘be a writer’; I just knew, from an early age, that I wanted to create stories and write them down.
My love of writing began in childhood. My father and my grandmother were published writers, and my governess told me the most wonderful fairy stories and encouraged me to invent my own. By my teenage years I was reading voraciously – classics but also romance novels – and had earned a reputation as a romance writer among my peers for circulating stories I’d written during lessons (the nuns at my convent school were less impressed with my endeavors, it must be said!).
At university I studied French literature, which gave me a good grounding in the craft of writing, and then I traveled the world for a time, drinking in different sights and cultures. I wrote when I could – in notebooks and diaries – but it was years later, after setting up a property development company and raising my children, that I began to write seriously. My family encouraged me, having read some rough manuscripts.
It took some courage to make the move to writing seriously, but my father had instilled in me from childhood the importance of determination and tenacity. After years of toying with writing, I now took it as seriously as I had my business. I carved out structured time each day in which I could be alone and focus on writing; I researched and planned meticulously; and I devised a routine that ensured I was productive and working to schedule. Finally, the first draft of Burning Embers was ready for review by friends and family.
Some months later, I was delighted to sign a publishing contract with Omnific Publishing. It was at that point, I suppose, that I felt I was a ‘proper writer’. But a writer is something I am, not something I do, necessarily. It’s in my blood, in my soul – it’s a way of life, not a career.
Since finishing Burning Embers, I’ve been unable (and unwilling) to stem the flow of ideas that completing my debut novel seems to have unleashed. I’ve written a sensual trilogy set in Andalucia, Spain, spanning a period from the 1950s to the present day; a touching romance novel set in Venice and Tuscany, Italy, that explores the echoes of love; and I’m now working on a trilogy set in Egypt, the land of my birth – a world of deep, ingrained customs and traditions, interesting though often cruel. No doubt you can spot the common themes in my writing: epic, deeply felt love stories set against exotic backdrops.
All of these books will be published in due course, and I very much enjoy the publishing process and hearing from readers of my books. But for me, being a writer is not about publishing. It is simply about writing – writing from the heart the books that I most want to read. As the great American writer Toni Morrison said, ‘If there’s a book you want to read and it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.’ And so I write – to please the little girl I once was who delighted in fairy stories at the knee of her governess; the young woman who lost herself in Gustave Flaubert and Victor Hugo and Charlotte Brontë; and the mother who cradled a baby in one arm while holding a romance novel in the other.
And the most wonderful aspect to the path to being a writer? There is no ending. The path leads on, wide and meandering, leading to exciting new places to explore and learn from.