Hannah Fielding is the author of numerous novels including The Echoes of Love, Burning Embers and Indiscretion. Her latest novel, Concerto, was published by London Wall Publishing on 6 June 2019.
Hannah kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Concerto.
Concerto is a sensual and romantic story of lost love and forgiveness, destiny and difficult choices. When music therapist Catriona Drouot travels to Lake Como to help a blind client recover his musical gift, she knows it will be a difficult assignment. Umberto Monteverdi is arrogant and embittered – and he was once her lover. Amid the tempestuous intrigues at Umberto’s Palladian mansion, the spark between them is rekindled. But how can Catriona share what she has hidden from the sightless composer for the past decade? And hers is not the only secret that is rippling uneasily below the surface…
2. What inspired the book?
There are two key themes in Concerto: blindness and music.
For the past few years I have been around blind people. People who were energetic, independent and free before they lost their sight and suddenly found themselves in the difficult position of having to rely on others for everything. I watched their anger, their depression and despair, their fight to remain independent and dignified; and finally, I witnessed their courage as they tried to make the most of a horrible situation. All of this inspired the hero in Concerto, Umberto.
And what does a blind pianist composer need in order to find the courage to heal? His music, of course. Music is soothing, relaxing, exhilarating, mood changing and therapeutic. That is why I decided that Catriona, my heroine, should be a music therapist, a lady with the skills, the talent and the soul to lead Umberto out of the darkness and into the light.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
I am a thorough planner. Having researched my facts thoroughly, I plan my novel down to the smallest detail. Planning ahead, I have found, makes the writing so much easier and therefore so much more enjoyable. I use my plan as a map. I never set out on a long journey by car without a map, and the same applies to my writing. By the time I write the first paragraph, I know the story, the characters, the setting, the mood — everything.
4. Having been through the publishing process is there anything about the process of creating a novel that surprised you?
For my debut novel, Burning Embers, I was surprised by how emotional I felt on publication day. It was the culmination of so much work, and so much dreaming! Concerto is my seventh novel, and with each publication it gets a little easier, although I am still filled with a heady mix of excitement, anticipation, joy and vulnerability.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I spend a lot of time in my garden, growing herbs, fruits, vegetables and flowers. At our French home we have an olive grove, and we harvest the olives to make our own oil. I love to cook with produce from the garden; dolmades made with our vine leaves is one of my specialties.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
Goodness, how difficult to choose! I am not sure that any book could sustain me for a lifetime; I would ache so badly for more stories. If I had to choose, I think it would be Jane Eyre. Jane is the perfect romantic heroine: ‘I would always rather be happy than dignified.’
7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
How about, which Hollywood star have you unwittingly snubbed? The answer is Richard Burton. When I was a teenager, my family and I holidayed in a cabin in the grounds of the Montaza Palace, Alexandria, and our stay coincided with an international film festival. Unbeknownst to my parents, I gate-crashed the party. I was desperate to meet Gardner Mackay, star of Adventures in Paradise and my biggest heartthrob. I went up to a man and asked whether he had seen Mackay.
The tuxedo-clad man responded: ‘What about me? I’m Richard Burton.’
The name meant nothing to me and so I politely took my leave. Only when the movie Cleopatra came out, starring Burton and his wife Elizabeth Taylor, did I realise my folly!
About the book
On a bright morning in Nice, eighteen-year-old aspiring opera singer, Catriona de Vere finds the two-storey reddish-pink bricked house Les Platanes has been sold. Its new occupant and her new neighbour is none other than the celebrated concert pianist, handsome and rude Umberto Rolando Monteverdi.
Fascinated by the hypnotizing piano melodies filtering through her bedroom windows night after night, Catriona cannot hide her growing attraction to her neighbour until his music seduces her into his bed, leaving a trail of unexpected consequences and the sting of betrayal.
Ten years later, having put Umberto out of her mind, Catriona, now a respected musical therapist, is visited by opera diva Calandra, Umberto’s mother, with a dying request to help recover her son’s musical gift after a car accident robbed him of his sight.
Catriona arrives at Umberto’s Palladian mansion on the glittering shores of Lake Como to find him resistant to her every effort. Caught up in the tempestuous intrigues at her client’s estate, Catriona discovers her feelings toward the blind musician are still as strong as ever. Harbouring secrets of her own – can Catriona share what she has hidden from Umberto for the past decade and will she ever be able to break through the darkness that engulfs Umberto?
About the author
Egyptian by birth Hannah is fluent in French, English and Arabic and has lived all over the world. She currently lives between her writing retreat in the South of France and her rambling family home in Ireland. Hannah’s grandmother, Esther Fanous, was the revolutionary feminist writer in Egypt during the early 1900s and helped found the Women’s Wafd Central Committee in 1920.
*I was asked to host this Q&A to help promote Concerto. I did not receive any payment or a copy of the book*