Today we’re chatting with Annabel Fielding about her new novel, A Pearl For My Mistress
Please describe what the story is about.
It is a story of three very different young women enmeshed in the radical politics of the 1930s, in three very different ways. It’s about the allure of fascism, the allure of love, the power of art and the power of fear.
Share a teaser sentence or two from your novel.
‘It was as if Hester was once again cycling down the hill and feeling the wind roaring in her ears; only this time the brakes were broken, and the map was lost, and the landscape around her was full of dangers.
What did you get yourself into, little Hettie, the reasonable daughter, her mother’s pride? And how will you find your way back?
Do you even want to?’
What do you want people to know about your book?
It provides a kind of girl’s eye view of the era, including its fraught political landscape.
What did you learn about yourself while writing this novel?
That an author must learn how to get into the head of every character, no matter how despicable; she has to see with her eyes and think with her thoughts, even if for the ten minutes it takes to write the POV scene. And it’s not always easy.
What was your timeline from drafting to publication?
About a year and a half. Before that, I spent about a year on research and planning; thanks to that, the actual drafting process went surprisingly smoothly!
What is your favorite part of writing (drafting characters, making up scenes, plotting, developing emotional turning points, etc). Why?
I probably won’t be original here: once I had my outline and was set on my tracks, I’ve enjoyed writing the first draft most of all. There was this incomparable humming energy and feeling of purpose.
Briefly, where did the idea for your book come from?
Period dramas, set in the interwar period, sometimes feature a Nazi sympathizer or two, but they are then represented as a sudden blot on the beautiful world, inhabited by the virtuous protagonists.
And… well, I wanted to dig a little deeper. No evil simply springs up in the middle of a perfect system (in this case, a family values-suffused Good Old England we usually see in period dramas). The evil has to be nourished by its very soil.
When do you do your best thinking about your work in progress?
When walking, hiking or reading historical non-fiction.
Share something people may be surprised to know about you?
English is not my first language; moreover, I’ve only started reading in it extensively after I turned seventeen.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever gotten?
Probably to disregard the romantic ‘tortured artist’ archetype and work out methods that would cause me as little torture as possible. In my case, it was dedicating enough time to careful research, detailed outline and scene-by-scene planning.
Probably a no-magic political fantasy in a Renaissance-inspired world. Spice trade, mythological frescoes and lesbian love plots included, of course!
Annabel Fielding – A PEARL FOR MY MISTRESS
England, 1934. Hester Blake, an ambitious girl from an industrial Northern town, finds a job as a lady’s maid in a small aristocratic household.
Despite their impressive title and glorious past, the Fitzmartins are crumbling under the pressures of the new century. And in the cold isolation of these new surroundings, Hester ends up hopelessly besotted with her young mistress, Lady Lucy.
Accompanying Lucy on her London Season, Hester is plunged into a heady and decadent world. But hushed whispers of another war swirl beneath the capital… and soon, Hester finds herself the keeper of some of society’s most dangerous secrets…
Available Sept 9, 2017