Here is my interview with Freda Warrington author of A Taste of Blood Wine.
Where are you from?
I was born in Leicester – recently famous for Richard III’s remains being discovered there – and grew up in the beautiful Charnwood Forest area which gave me an early feeling for the inspirational, magical qualities of landscapes.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or was there something else you wanted to do as a career?
No, I always wanted to write, ever since I first started making up little stories aged five. However, “being a novelist” wasn’t a career option at school! So I went to art college and studied graphic design, which turned out to be a good career choice because it’s a combination of artistic and practical skills. I worked in medical art and graphics for some years while writing in my spare time. And of course, that spills over into book design because the worlds of art, typography and writing are deeply interconnected. Even now, I don’t know what I could have done apart from graphics. Although English was my best subject, I never fancied teaching. Maybe I could have learned languages and becoming a translator, or gone for the more esoteric skill of being a stained glass artist. That’s something I do as a hobby, as well as making jewellery and other bits and bobs. I like making things and playing with colours – I suppose that’s part of the creative urge that makes me write – but nothing that’s in danger of earning me any money!
What inspired you to write your first book?
Depends what you mean by “first book!” From an early age I would be inspired by any story I enjoyed to try creating my own little world and characters, especially if I’d been unhappy with the ending – then I would want to write something that had a more pleasing conclusion. I started lots of projects that I abandoned: pony stories as a child, moving on to fantasy and vampire and even war stories as I entered my teens. I loved CS Lewis and Tolkien of course, but I was more inspired actually to write by authors such as Michael Moorcock, Tanith Lee and Ray Bradbury, because they had such wild, weird and colourful imaginations. As for the first book that I actually finished and got published – A Blackbird in Silver in 1986 – I think it was my way of working through my fears about nuclear annihilation and the cold war. The first thing that came into my mind was the rather eerie climaactic scene of the book. Next came three very different but compelling characters – Estarinel, Ashurek and Medrian – who set out on a quest to defeat an enemy that’s intent on destroying their world. And the quest is impossible but they have to do it anyway, or at least try. The story explores what lengths you’d go to and what you would be prepared to sacrifice to achieve a vital goal. Because I always had the closing scenes to work towards, that spurred me on to actually finishing the book.
In your opinion what is the best movie adaptation of a book that you’ve read?
Oh – I would so love to think of a clever answer but I can’t! Most adaptations are a disappointment because they miss out the book’s depth and detail, or make too many changes. So I’ll have to state the obvious and say The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Although I wasn’t 100% happy with the casting, overall the films were incredibly well done.
What is the first book that you remember reading?
You mean, apart from the one with lots of pictures that went, I see Rover. Rover chases the ball. Rover faces an existential crisis over the nature of his canine-hood…? (Yes, I made the last bit up). I’m not sure, but I remember a big book full of fairy tales that I kept coming back to. I wish I still had it! First novel… I’m struggling. I was captivated by The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, but I read that when I was around nine so it can’t have been the first by any means. Oh, it might have been The Jungle Book… Sorry, I recall a lot of books but no idea which came first.
If your book was being made into a movie do you already have actors in mind for each role? What bands/singers would you put on the soundtrack?
Casting your book as a movie is something fun to do with friends, but if I try to do so with A Taste of Blood Wine I get nowhere. Actors I might have thought suitable twenty years ago have aged, while my protagonists stay young! I think it wouldn’t be too hard to choose the supporting cast, but Charlotte and Karl would be virtually impossible. I have such a strong picture of them in my mind that no actor would ever be quite right and – particularly in Karl’s case – I can’t think of any actor who is both good-looking and charismatic enough to play him. And if Karl was wrong, the whole story wouldn’t work!
The Blood Wine series always had a very strong soundtrack in my head. I was inspired by some of Stevie Nicks’ darker songs such as Gold Dust Woman, Sisters of the Moon, Outside the Rain. Many of her songs conjured a powerful atmosphere in my mind that was highly conducive to writing about vampires – she may have been singing about something else entirely, but to me, she was singing about my story! Some the chapter titles are snatches of her lyrics, a tribute to her songs if you like, and a hint to the reader to listen to them. The Irish band Horslips was another source of inspiration. It wasn’t feasible to get permission to quote Stevie Nicks’ lyrics, but I actually know the members of Horslips and they were happy to let me use their words in the text. An example: “He’s sure to come a-calling/ When the shades of night are drawn/ A twisted blackthorn in his hand/ He’ll linger until dawn./ You wish to stay forever young/ but only he knows how;/ It’s his blessing, it’s his curse/ And it’s your decision now…” That’s completely, utterly evocative of A Taste of Blood Wine!
So yes, Stevie Nicks, Horslips, maybe All About Eve, Emilie Autumn… I like music that’s dark, off-beat, gothic, and haunting. And of course some 1920s incidental music, as that’s the period the stories are set in.
When you’re creating characters do you incorporate traits from people you know?
Sometimes, but not too often! Occasionally a character might be an amalgam of several friends, or inspired by an individual from TV drama or film. A couple of times I’ve put an actual person into a book at their request, but to me that has never quite worked, because the character on the page comes out quite different to the real person, and I end up apologising, ha ha! Of course you draw on real-life traits, but how a character develops tends to be instinctive rather than calculated. Sometimes they arrive in my head fully formed – take for example Violette, who turns up in the second book, A Dance in Blood Velvet. One day I saw a beautiful milk-white face with jet black hair in my mind, and I knew that she was a dancer, and that she was connected to the goddess Lilith. Don’t ask me where any of that came from! Other times, I have to work with the character on the page before I find out who they really are.
If you had the chance to have a sit down with any author alive or deceased who would it be and why?
Mary Shelley. I’d like to ask her (assuming she could step into the present day) how she felt about becoming the “mother of science fiction” and what it was like hanging out with Percy and the other poets, and how she regarded her mother, the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft… just so much to ask!
What book are you reading now?
I’ve just finished Talking About Jane Austen in Baghdad – it’s a true story, in the form of an exchange of emails between a British journalist (Bee Rowlatt) and an Iraqi university lecturer (May Witwit) in which the latter describes her life trying to survive and continue teaching English literature in Baghdad after the downfall of Saddam Hussein. It’s an extraordinary, eye-opening account of what it’s like trying to continue “normal” life in a virtual war zone. Constant power cuts, fuel shortages, the dangers of being shot at or bombed as she’s simply trying to get to work, leaning that she’s on a “hit-list” because the warring factions are intent on murdering academics – May’s story is incredible, terrifying, yet completely human.
What are your current projects?
I’m writing a brand-new fourth book in the Blood Wine sequence, called The Dark Arts of Blood. After that… I’d love to write more, or another book in my Aetherial Tales series (Tor, US – Elfland, Midsummer Night, Grail of the Summer Stars), or another Blackbird book. Lots of possibilities, but I just have to wait and see what happens. Meanwhile I’m really enjoying playing in my Blood Wine world again!
Title: A Taste of Blood Wine
Author: Freda Warrington
Publisher: Titan Books (3 May, 2013)
1918. A First World War battlefield becomes the cosmic battleground for two vampires, as Karl von Wultendorf struggles to free himself from his domineering maker, Kristian.
1923. Charlotte Neville watches as her father, a Cambridge professor, fills Parkland Hall with guests for her sister Madeleine’s 18th birthday party. Among them is his handsome new research assistant Karl – the man Madeleine has instantly decided will be her husband. Charlotte, shy and retiring, is happy to devote her life to her father and her dull fiance Henry – until she sees Karl …
For Charlotte, it is the beginning of a deadly obsession that sunders her from her sisters, her father and even her dearest friend. As their feverish passion grows, Karl faces the dilemma he fears the most. Only by deserting Charlotte can his passion for her blood be conquered. Only by betraying her can he protect her from the terrifying attentions of Kristian – for Kristian has decided to teach Karl a lesson in power, by devouring Charlotte.
Titan Books will publish collectable paperback and e-book editions of The Blood Wine Books (originally published in the 1990s), re-edited and revised by the author, over the next eighteen months. A brand new fourth book in the series, The Dark Arts of Blood, will appear in late 2014.
For more information visit http://titanbooks.com/a-taste-of-blood-wine-6987/
We have been given a Signed copy of A Taste of Blood Wine to giveaway to one lucky reader.
Open to UK & Eire Residents only
Ends Midnight Sunday 2nd June 2013