Monday, March 15, 2021

#691: In Conversation with - Hannah Fielding

Book trailer - You can read the review here

1. Your books always have strong female lead. What or who is your inspiration to write such strong characters?

All of the women I have known and admired, most especially my daughter, my mother and my grandmother. The latter, Esther Fanous, was a revolutionary feminist and writer in Egypt; you can read more about her at

2. Your latest book, The Song of Nile, is set in Egypt – tell us more about your life in Egypt. 

My home town is the ancient and historic city of Alexandria, founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great. Stretching some 40 kilometres along the north coast of Egypt, it is known as the Bride of the Mediterranean, and certainly when I was growing there, in the 1950s and 1960s, the city was a beacon of Mediterranean culture.

I have such wonderful memories of growing up in Alexandria. It was a city known for its Europeanised freedom, an open place full of hope and anticipation. Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together in friendship and peace. Most shops and factories were family owned by not only Egyptians but Greeks, Jews, Armenians, Syrians and Italians. Grand names come to mind, like Shamla and Cicurel, Gategno,  Orosdi-Back, Benzion, Sidnawy and Hannaux department stores, where you could find all the latest fashions from Paris and the most beautiful silk fabrics; Delices, Athineos, Pastroudis, Bodreaux, Flukiger, patisseries and tea shops that served the most mouth-watering cakes and ice creams; and Tomvaco, which sold delicious chocolates and candied fruits. (I especially remember its stuffed chocolate dates.)

On the beaches, like San Stefano, Miami and Montazah, and in the cafes and restaurants, the radio blasted out a medley of Italian, French, English and Greek songs to its international clientele. When I listen to songs from this era now, I am transported back in time, to a life that seemed light-hearted and full of mirth.

3. Tell us about the research that you normally do before you embark on writing a book. 

If I have not already travelled to a location, then where possible I do so, drinking in the feel of the place. Then, at home, I research everything from architecture to history and mythology. When I’m researching a novel and writing it, I try to immerse myself in the culture of the place; I listen to traditional music, for example, and I try out recipes in the kitchen. For Song of the Nile, this was easy, of course, for Egypt is my homeland.

4. Do you have a plan for your next book? Do tell us more about your writing plans. 

I am not quite ready to share details of my next novel – but I can tell you that it is set in Ireland, where I am living now. Such beautiful countryside!



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