Guest Post by Author Hannah Fielding
Inspiration for my writing
The inspiration for my books comes from many sources – anything really that creates an emotion in me, which in turn stimulates my imagination. A deserted beach at the end of summer could make my mood nostalgic and affect my writing, so I would write about separation and loneliness. A stormy sea would incite me to have my characters quarrel. Listening to the sultry tunes of a saxophone would evoke the muted lights and the smoky atmosphere of a nightclub. The painting of a quaint little village with its up-and-down houses would create in my mind the setting for a special chapter in my novel where characters need a lively, bustling setting. A beautiful poem about sunset would conjure up an array of romantic scenes. A handsome young man in the street, at the airport or in a café and my hero is born.
Burning Embers began as a vivid landscape in my mind. The seed of the idea was sown many years ago when, as a schoolgirl, I studied the works of Leconte de Lisle, a French Romantic poet of the 19th century (see http://www.hannahfielding.net/?cat=7). His poems are wonderfully descriptive and vivid – about wild animal, magnificent dawns and sunsets, exotic setting and colourful vistas. Then later on, I went on holiday to Kenya with my parents and I met our family friend Mr Chiumbo Wangai who often used to visit us. He was a great raconteur and told me extensively about his beautiful country, its traditions and its customs.
It was a brightly lit cruiser gliding on the Mediterranean by my window in France one night that set my heart racing and the scene for my opening chapter of Burning Embers was conceived. Fausto Papetti’s saxophone music created the ambiance for The Golden Fish, Rafe’s nightclub; Leconte de Lisle’s wonderful descriptive poems helped me dream up the romantic sunsets and paint the animals and the breathtaking scenery of Kenya in the novel.
Once a book starts taking form in my mind, it’s consuming. It is like a door opens in my head and ideas come thick and fast. When I am starting to craft my plot I get very worried about losing an idea, and that is one of the reasons why I keep a notebook next to my bed with a torch (so not to awake my husband). Ideas come to me in the most peculiar places. The last two paragraphs of Burning Embers came to me one evening while I was having my bath. I had to get out immediately (even though I had only just got in) to write down my thoughts, in case they flew away.
I try to exert some discipline, or my mind can get lost in the imagery world it conjures. I do so by writing down everything I think of, and then when the idea flow lessens, I begin to research – reading books, watching films, listening to music and visiting settings for the book. While I am researching other ideas for the plot, my characters, the scenes flow into my mind. When I feel I have gathered enough information to create my novel, I write a very detailed plan and do my best to press pause on any new ideas pouring into my mind.
Rarely do I find myself stuck for inspiration, I think because I surround myself with sources of inspiration – novels, music, paintings, friends and family. Usually, if my mind is quiet, I seek out a place where the scenery is very romantic. My Pinterest boards at http://pinterest.com/hannahfielding/my-writing-places/ and http://pinterest.com/hannahfielding/settings-that-inspire-my-writing/ help too – a quick glance and I’m straight into the settings that inspire me and able to discover deep within that vein of romance that infuses my writing.
For me, there is no spirit-like muse who visits me and sprinkles ideas upon me like fairy dust. One of my favourite quotes is by English poet Sir Philip Sidney: “Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite: “Fool!” said my muse to me, “look in thy heart, and write.” I believe that if you are patient and open, if you sit and drift and believe in inspiration, it will come to you, it must come to you.
Thank you, Hannah!