Author Hannah Fielding on finding inspiration on the Côte d’Azur
PUBLISHED: 11:38 10 June 2019 | UPDATED: 12:55 24 June 2019
Hannah Fielding has worked on all of her novels at her French home after falling in love with a house on the Côte d’Azur almost two decades ago. She tells us how France has inspired her writing
How long have you owned a home in France?
My husband and I found our mas 18 years ago. After viewing a fair number of properties in the area, I fell in love with this house, despite its somewhat dilapidated state; it had a soul that spoke to me, and the grounds had such wonderful views of the sea! It took us several years to lovingly restore and renovate the house, and longer still to develop the garden. In fact, I don't think I will ever be finished working on the garden, which is fine by me.
Why did you choose to buy on the Côte d'Azur?
The weather was a big factor. I grew up in Alexandria, Egypt, and living in England for so many years made me yearn for the light and warmth of the sun. I love the culture of the Côte d'Azur too - the shopping, the restaurants, the Opéra de Nice.
How has France influenced your writing and the Côte d'Azur in particular?
The passion of the French has always inspired me in my writing. I write with passion, of passion. However, I also find a sense of calm in France, especially on the Côte d'Azur, and that makes it so much easier to focus on my writing.
Can you describe the view from your writing desk?
In a word: magnifique! I write overlooking the garden and, beyond, the sea. During Les Voiles de St-Tropez sailing regatta it is hard to focus on writing; I find myself gazing at the white sails of the yachts instead. I have worked on each of my novels in France, whether planning, writing or editing.
What do you enjoy doing in France when you're not writing?
There is an olive grove in my garden, and we have started to harvest the olives, which we then send to a press to make our own olive oil. I use this for my other great passion in life: cooking. I especially love to cook using produce from the garden; dolmades made with our vine leaves is one of my specialties.
Can you tell us a bit about your latest book?
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…
What do you most look forward to about spending your summers in France?
The balmy summer nights. I sit up late, listening to the cicadas, sipping herbal tea and dreaming up my next story.
What do you miss most about France when you're not there?
So many things. But perhaps most of all I miss getting up in the cool early morning and going to the boulangerie to buy a freshly baked baguette. There is nothing like the scent of that bread, and it tastes divine spread with my own homemade apricot jam.