As part of the 'Gorgeous Grave Throbber' blog tour, Freda Warrington has kindly popped in to talk to Patrick Challis from Curiosity of a Social Misfit about the re-release of 'A Taste of Blood Wine' and many more delicious things.
PC: How are you on this lovely sunny day?
FW: Fine, thank you… and it actually is sunny at the moment! Not that I mind rain, because it means I can snuggle up in my study without feeling guilty for not gardening or going for a bracing walk.
PC: What inspired you to write A Taste of Blood Wine?
FW: I started A Taste of Blood Wine back in the early 1980s, as an “escape” from a particularly trying time in my life. A long, long time before the current explosion of vampire novels. My influences were old-school – Dracula, the Hammer Horror films with Christopher Lee, Carmilla by JS LeFanu – a story in which the female vampire was incredibly human, passionate, and vulnerable – and the early Anne Rice novels. I’d long been frustrated by the barrier between humans and vampires – that the vampire was always a monster to be hunted down and killed, that a relationship other than predator and victim was impossible. Clearly human-vampire love has become commonplace since then, but when I wrote A Taste of Blood Wine, it wasn’t! My two main characters – shy human Charlotte, and the irresistibly gorgeous vampire Karl – gradually developed in my mind. I wanted to explore how they could break through the barrier and meet as equals, but at what cost?
PC: With so many vampire books out there, how would you describe yours to hook in a new reader?
FW: If you like your vampires grown-up, passionate and not afraid to be vampires… you may find A Taste of Blood Wine offers more depth than other vampire novels. The novel is set in the 1920s, a period of lush decadence and glamour, with the shadow of the First World War hanging over everything. The transition between Victorian/ Edwardian times and a bright new modern age reflects the changes that my heroine, Charlotte, goes through as she moves from the constraints of her family and into her true self. My vampire mythology is interestingly different. The story is very much character-driven, with lots of intrigue, weirdness and mystery. And passion. And sex. Oh, and a dash of gore! In Karl, I tried to create the most gorgeous, alluring vampire (anti) hero I could imagine… and judging by the emails I’ve received over the years, I succeeded. All I can say is… go on, give the books a try. If you like any kind of vampire literature, they will really give you something to, um, get your teeth into (sorry!).
PC: As a fellow Leicester dweller, did you find that living there inspired any of your writing?
FW: Are you? Hi! *Cyber wave*. Yes, I grew up in the beautiful Charnwood Forest area which was and is highly inspirational. The landscape of ancient volcanic rocks, oak forests and bracken gave me an early feel for magic and otherworldliness that certainly powered my imagination. I set The Rainbow Gate there and also Elfland (one of my recent novels for Tor). And of course, we now have the discovery of Richard III’s remains to capture the imagination of the entire world!
PC: A lot of writers have quirks and traditions while writing, do you have any?
FW: You mean like little superstitions or rituals that help get you into the writing zone? Not really. I probably should develop something to act as a quick self-hypnosis that flicks my brain from “stressing about everyday life” mode into pure creative concentration. I’m sure some writers can do that and I envy them!
PC: You're known for your stories having fantasy, supernatural and romantic overtones. Is there any one of those styles that you are the most comfortable in?
FW: I’m comfortable in all those areas because they are variations on the themes that engage my interest. I might be writing about vampires, or witches, or my non-human Aetherial race, or an epic fantasy, or even an alternative history (The Court of the Midnight King, about Richard III) – but I’m still writing from different areas of my personal Otherworld, aka my imagination! Genres I wouldn’t be confident in – say, hard military science fiction, or spy thrillers, or literary fiction set in (for example) Uzbekistan – I simply don’t go there, because it wouldn’t be authentic.
PC: As the author of many books, do you find that you have one that you are most proud of?
FW: I have to say my Blood Wine sequence, particularly the third, The Dark Blood of Poppies. In all honesty, if I had written my vampire books, and nothing else, I would be happy. I loved the characters so much and became so deeply immersed in their stories. I love my “Aetherial Tales” for Tor, too – and I think my non-human Aetherials have a lot in common with vampires, as a human-looking other-race – but the fact that vampires drink blood gives them that extra edge of eroticism and danger.
PC: Out of the myriad of characters that you have created, who would you say your favourite to write has been?
FW: H’m… that’s difficult. As much as I loved writing the shy, innocent yet passionate Charlotte, and the irresistible Karl (in A Taste of Blood Wine), I particularly enjoy Violette, who appears in the second book, A Dance in Blood Velvet. She jumped into my head fully formed – a beautiful, ice-white creature with jet black hair. I knew she was a ballerina, and that she was connected to the goddess Lilith. Violette is complicated. She’s not particularly “nice” – in fact she can be absolutely vile, with a tendency to rip people’s heads off if they annoy her. Despite a suppressed longing for love, she’s aloof, an ice-maiden who won’t let anyone close. She has little time for men, but a strong passion for other women. Iron self-control defines her, because when she loses control – people start running! And she’s got this whole Lilith side to her nature that serves her for good or ill. She’s a really complex, difficult character who’s just fantastic to write.
Oh, and if I can mention a runner-up – the “bad boy” Sam in Elfland. He is sex on legs, and although his heart’s in the right place, he can be a terrible rogue! He speaks before he thinks, and always speaks the truth, which gets him into endless trouble. Rarely takes anything seriously, which makes him huge fun.
PC: What's next for Freda Warrington?
FW: I’m re-editing the third book in the series, The Dark Blood of Poppies (I’ve already done the second, A Dance in Blood Velvet) ready for publication by Titan Books in 2014. By that I mean I’m not making huge changes, just tidying up the text and curbing my tendency to waffle or write purple prose! And I’m working on a brand-new fourth, The Dark Arts of Blood. Set in the late 1920s, it follows what happens to my vampire characters next, with a handful of newcomers to stir things up…
'A Taste of Blood Wine' is out now to buy from Titan Books!