Today I'm pleased to be taking part in the Echoes of Love blog tour. I asked the author Hannah Fielding what inspired her to write the book.
Inspiration for my writing
My sources of inspiration are wide ranging – so much so that sometimes bombardment of ideas can be a problem for me! I think when you are open to experiences and ideas, the muse is quick to latch on to that which stirs her.
For me, inspiration strikes in four key areas:
Both my novels published so far, Burning Embers and The Echoes of Love, have their roots in my childhood. For The Echoes of Love, it was a childhood visit to Venice that fired up my imagination. I was so taken by the beauty and grandeur of the sights; to a little girl, it was such a big, opulent place. But then I remember standing in the main square, quite literally surrounded by pigeons, which I hated, and realising that all was not beautiful in this city. The idea that Venice had two faces – one the mask, and the other the truth – struck me even at that early age, and it remained with me. The seed was sown for a story set in the city of love that explored a world of light and darkness, truth and deceit, reality and mirage.
Setting and ambiance
I am a person most inspired by places. Where I live – in the south of France and in Kent, England – is important in enabling me to write: I need open skies and azure seas and lush landscapes; nature feeds my creativity. So places themselves are most important in writing a book. In some ways, in Burning Embers and The Echoes of Love, the settings came first – I fell in love with the fiery wilds of Kenya and the historical splendour of Venice, and I wanted to bring these locations to life in my mind as the backdrop for my all-time favourite things: love stories.
I am a great ‘people watcher’; I think all novelists must be. When I am researching a book, I travel to the setting and ensconce myself in the thick of the action in a café. There, I sit quietly and work my way through a hot drink or three, and I take in the atmosphere. In my trusty notebook, which I never leave home without, I note down dialogue and events and descriptions that take my fancy. And especially details about people.
Sometimes, I find my characters simply through inspiration provided by people around me. For example, the hero in The Echoes of Love, Paolo, first came to mind when I met an Italian lawyer who was the epitome of a gentleman and most attractive but was, I suspected, somewhat haunted in himself. And my heroine in the novel, Venetia, is a mixture of ideas and experiences I’ve had (and a dash of myself; aren’t all good protagonists?), but visually when I picture her I see a beautiful lady I spotted in a Venice street one day – elegant, confident, the kind of person you can’t help but notice.
For any book I’m writing, research is key. I always research my books thoroughly to make sure the facts are right, and in fact I very much enjoy this stage of the writing process. I spend several months immersing myself in books and films and internet research, and where possible I also travel to the location, where I dig around and take plenty of photos.
Italy has such a rich cultural heritage, it was a true pleasure to research the key locations in the novel – Venice and Tuscany. There is so much to discover: art, architecture, theatre, dance, literature, events, customs, legends; and, of course, cuisine – delicious! Knowing about every facet of a culture helps me to form the setting of a film in my mind where I can place my characters, reassured that their experience will be genuine and that my story will come from the heart.
The Echoes of Love is out now. You can see a trailer for the book here