“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their…well, Inspirations and Influences. The cool thing is that the writers are given free rein so they can go wild and write about anything they want. It can be about their new book, series or about their career as a whole.
Today we are thrilled to welcome Freda Warrington as our guest of the day! Freda is the author of the outstanding fantasy series, the Aetherial tales: Elfland, Midsummer Night and now Grail of the Summer Stars. To celebrate the release of the third book in the series, we are delighted to have the talented Warrington over to talk inspirations and influences.
Give a warm welcome to Freda, folks!
Write Until You Fly by Freda Warrington
Hi Book Smugglers, I’m so pleased to be invited back. It’s always fun to talk about the process of writing, especially when a new book is coming out – I’m sitting at my desk looking at the beautiful copy of Grail of the Summer Stars that arrived yesterday. Beautiful, she adds hurriedly, thanks to the gorgeous cover artwork by Kinuko Craft – although I do hope you’ll enjoy the contents as well. What you need to know about the amazing Ms Craft is that she actually reads the whole manuscript of every book she illustrates. She did so with the first two Aetherial Tales, Elfland and Midsummer Night, too. Study her paintings, and you can see all sorts of details that she could only have gleaned by reading the story. A mermaid-like figure entwined with a weird water-serpent, a ruined temple, a mysterious glass sphere full of stars…
Grail of the Summer Stars can be read as a stand-alone, although it helps if you have read the first two because it completes a background arc across the three stories. Although the Aetherial Tales are set in the real world, my un-human Aetherial characters often wander off into the Otherworld. As for Grail, I wanted to write a mystery that was also an adventure, and a romance, and eventually several other (unplanned) things too.
Unplanned revelations that lift your story off the ground and take it to places you didn’t expect are so satisfying. The best part of writing is reaching that magical place where you no longer care about any other book you’ve ever read, any film you’ve seen, or the “imaginary critic” looking over your shoulder. You become so immersed in your own created world that it takes on a life of its own, and becomes so real that the novel almost writes itself. That’s what I call flying – especially when you’re not even tempted to look down!
It’s not always easy reaching that happy place. Every time I start a new book, it’s like standing at the bottom of the mountain again and wondering how I’ll ever get up that steep rugged trail. Sometimes – when I’ve had enough of staring at a blank screen! – I’ll go to my bookshelf and pull out some favourites to remind myself that putting one word in front of another is not impossible, after all. The books that help are nearly always very old friends from my teenage years. Perhaps Red Moon, Black Mountain by Joy Chant, or The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle, or a Tanith Lee novel, awash with gothic imagery and colour. Maybe some Alan Garner or Michael Moorcock. I might look at favourite paintings or listen to music to ease me into the “zone”.
Of course I loved CS Lewis and Tolkien too, but they are not my go-to books when I need a kick-start. Forgive me if my memory’s faulty, but I don’t remember much mystery in Lord of the Rings. More a case of – “Here come the ring-wraiths, this is how they became what they are, now run like hell!” or, “Here is One Ring, and this is what we must do to destroy it…” LotR was more about “How?” than “What the heck…?”
For Grail I wanted to capture a feel of enigma wrapped in mystery, or however the saying goes. Stevie, a museum curator, receives a strange, mesmeric painting from an old friend, Daniel. But why has he sent it, and why has he gone missing? That’s just the start as Stevie tries to unravel the deeper mystery of who she really is, and what the gorgeous stranger Mistangamesh wants with her, and what’s become of his naughty brother Rufus… and then all the stuff that lies even deeper in the Otherworld. The biggest surprise for me was the resolution of an arc that simmered in the background of the first two novels. I didn’t realize it was going to be so crucial until a certain character loomed up in the story and gave me a revelation – aha, so that’s what this is about!
Thank you, subconscious. I love you. (Sometimes!) Anyway, although Grail of the Summer Stars reaches a fairly epic conclusion, I’ve a feeling that my imagination is very far from finished with my Aetherial universe. To me, it’s a special place in which there are yet more stories to be told.
About the Author:
Freda Warrington, who was born in and lives in Leicestershire, England, is the author of twenty novels. GRAIL OF THE SUMMER STARS is her third Aetherial Tales novel, her first series to be published in the United States. The first, ELFLAND, was named Best Fantasy of the Year by RT Book Reviews.
We have one copy of Grail of the Summer Stars up for grabs! The contest is open to ALL and will run until Sunday May 12 at 12:01am EST. To enter, use the form below.