To be a writer – to be a ‘rebel’?
My sister was a model student at our convent school: diligent, obedient, top of the class. Not so her older sister. Certainly, I paid attention in the handful of classes that interested me, like literature and French. But sit me in a class with a nun droning on about maths or physics and a switch within flicked: I at once retreated into my own world where I pursued the one subject that surely was of worth: writing romance.
Happily, I was a tall girl, which meant my teachers always sat me at the back of the class so I did not block another pupil’s view of the board. Away from the scrutiny of the nuns’ beady eyes, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. Inspired by the romance novels and TV series I was devouring at home, and various crushes on Hollywood stars of the day, I penned love story after love story – all charmingly innocent, but nonetheless very popular with my peers, who would circulate the stories among them and beg for the next. Which of course I delivered: what writer, fledging or experienced, doesn’t delight in a clamour for her work? I had found, inadvertently, the secret to popularity, and that was much more appealing to me than quadratic equations.
Through the stories, always written in the first person, I lived out fantasies that I could never realise in my daily life. I was Ann-Margret, galloping on horseback to meet a dashingly handsome man for a date – a man who bore a striking resemblance to Gardner Mackay or Troy Donahue. I was the one girl in a crowd whom Elvis picked out to dance with him. I was anything and everything I wanted to be, and of course I always ‘got the guy’.
Did I care about being caught? Not a jot. I was, in fact, found out routinely. The nuns would rummage through my desk, or take an unexpected walk to the back of the class to catch me in action, or question exactly why I’d completely failed my end-of-year maths examination. Then would begin the scolding – at school and, once my teachers had contacted my parents, at home. The nuns were resolute: writing fiction in favour of learning maths or science was a Bad Thing. But at home, when my parents summoned me to discuss the matter, as they did fairly routinely, beyond the usual lecture there was never any punishment. Indeed, my parents would ask to read the stories, and would praise me for their form and content: they always were the biggest champions for my writing.
As stories of rebellion go, it is a benign one. I was not storming out of class. I was not throwing work books at teachers. I was not living out my romantic fantasies. But still, my writing during my teenage years was a source of constant conflict. When I look back now at those memories, with the benefit of hindsight, I smile. Perhaps it is the case that I grew into an adult with no great affinity for sums and not much appreciation of Newton’s laws. But I did grow into a woman who followed her dream of writing, and who now makes a career of that dream. Were the nuns right to scold? Of course. Was I right to write? Oh yes.
Hannah Fielding’s new novel Masquerade is the second instalment in the sweeping Andalucían Nights Trilogy out now. For more information visit Hannah’s website www.hannahfielding.net or buy your copy online here www.amazon.co.uk/Masquerade-mystery-scorching-Spanish-Andalucian/dp/0992994365
From the award-winning author of The Echoes of Love. Love, mystery and desire under the scorching Spanish sun. A young writer becomes entangled in an illicit gypsy love affair, pulling her into a world of secrets, deception and dark desire. Summer, 1976. Luz de Rueda returns to her beloved Spain and takes a job as the biographer of a famous artist. On her first day back in Cádiz, she encounters a bewitching, passionate young gypsy, Leandro, who immediately captures her heart, even though relationships with his kind are taboo. Haunted by this forbidden love, she meets her new employer, the sophisticated Andrés de Calderón. Reserved yet darkly compelling, he is totally different to Leandro but almost the gypsy s double. Both men stir unfamiliar and exciting feelings in Luz, although mystery and danger surround them in ways she has still to discover.