Thursday, May 2, 2013

Blog Tour: Guest Post + Giveaway with Freda Warrington, author of The Grail Of The Summer Stars

Today I have the pleasure of sharing with you a wonderful and insightful post by Freda Warrington, author of Grail Of The Summer Stars, the third and concluding book in the Aetherial Tales trilogy! In her post, Freda Warrington talks about the setting of her novel, the incredibly beautiful worldbuilding and the fascinating mythology!

There is also a giveaway at the bottom of this post, so be sure to enter! 

Feel Your World and Build It Anyway! by Freda Warrington
Hello, Evie Bookish has kindly invited me to post some thoughts about the creative process behind my new novel GRAIL OF THE SUMMER STARS. Grail is the third novel in my contemporary fantasy series, the Aetherial Tales. Each one is a stand-alone but interlinked story in which my un-human Aetherials try to muddle along in the human world.

Every author approaches world-building in their own unique way. Some are highly methodical. They need the map, the climate, the economy, the history and culture, every detail in place, even down to folklore and songs, before they can start. Much as I admire this attention to detail, my own way of world-building tends to be rather haphazard. I concentrate on character and story first. With the first book, Elfland, I started out in the ‘real world’ with the simple premise that every household is like a world in itself, a different planet almost. Two households come into conflict, and the story grew from there. By the time I reached Grail, I had most of the background in place, but with lots more to discover. My new protagonist is Stevie, a lively attractive young woman with disturbing gaps in her memory, and I also had Mist and Rufus, the feuding brothers from Midsummer Night, plus a catalyst – an enigmatic painting – to bring them all together.

So I start with my dramatis personae, and a few loose ideas for the places in which the story will unfold. Grail, I knew, would be set partly in an industrial museum, partly in Cloudcroft (the village from Elfland), partly in a colourful hot springs area of Nevada, and also in the weird and scary Otherworld. The background fills in as I work, like a voyage of discovery with the occasional flash of inspiration. I compare my writing method to doing a jigsaw, or a patchwork. A bit here and a bit there: it comes together eventually but takes me a while to see the complete picture!

In the past I’ve written fantasy novels that indeed required a map, with distinct countries and histories. My Aetherial TalesElfland, Midsummer Night and Grail of the Summer Stars – are rather different. First, they’re set in the modern-day real world – always a handy setting with maps ready-drawn! That said, there’s still scope to mess around with geography. For example, the Charnwood Forest area (in Leicestershire, UK) is real, but the village of Cloudcroft, where some of the action takes place in both Elfland and Grail, is a product of my imagination, based on real villages around which I’ve spent much of my life. It’s awkward to base a storyprecisely in a real place without “stealing” it, so to speak – placing fictional characters in real houses, and so on. And you’re bound to need some kind of setting – maybe a farm, a mansion, a church – that isn’t really there! As Grail begins, my main character, Stevie, is manager of a museum in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter, a real and fascinating industrial heritage area. The actual museum there is not entirely unlike the one where Stevie works as her surreal epic journey begins. However, I add a swift disclaimer that her place of work, although inspired by reality, has been heavily re-imagined to fit my fictional schemes!

My Aetherial Otherworld – aka the Spiral – is another matter entirely. Its geography is inexact. It frays at the edges. Although it has five realms, loosely based on the alchemical elements of Earth, Fire, Water, Air, and Ether, they shift around – while the dreaded Abyss, the Cauldron of Creation and Destruction, may appear when you least expect or want it. Some Aetherials can even alter the structure of the Spiral themselves. In fact my characters sit and complain that they can’t make a proper map because it’s always shifting around! It’s like trying to map our spherical Earth onto a flat surface, but a hundred times harder. The Spiral is vague, evanescent, unpredictable, scary. A place of death and rebirth.

Why did I create an Otherworld like that, rather than as a solid place? Because it’s my way of consciously acknowledging that this is a landscape of the imagination. Yes, it’s real to my characters. But all works of fiction, however realistic, are still actually exploring an inner landscape. This is a similar idea to the one in A Taste of Blood Wine (republished by Titan Books) where my vampire characters can step into another dimension. It’s often hinted that maybe it’s not reality that’s changed, but their perception of it.

The fun of this is that my Spiral is always changing, like the weather. It’s beautiful, yet terrifying, because you never know what it’s going to do next. Likewise, the mythology of my Aetherials is not set in stone, but constantly developing and deepening. A big story-arc is completed in Grail, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the series. It’s not a world where there’s one Big Quest and it’s all over – rather, things change but life goes on. So I hope there will be more adventures to come, more secret histories to be discovered.

Thank you so much for this wonderful guest post, Freda!

Grail of the Summer Stars 
Hardcover, 384 pages Published April 23rd 2013 by Tor Books
The climactic concluding novel in the spellbinding magical contemporary fantasy Aetherial Tales trilogy

A painting, depicting haunting scenes of a ruined palace and a scarlet-haired goddess in front of a fiery city, arrives unheralded in an art gallery with a cryptic note saying, “The world needs to see this.” The painting begins to change the lives of the woman who is the gallery's curator and that of an ancient man of the fey Aetherial folk who has mysteriously risen from the depths of the ocean. Neither human nor fairy knows how they are connected, but when the painting is stolen, both are compelled to discover the meaning behind the painting and the key it holds to their future.

In Grail of the Summer Stars, a haunting, powerful tale of two worlds and those caught between, Freda Warrington weaves an exciting story of suspense, adventure and danger that fulfills the promise of the Aetherial Tales as only she can.

About the author:
Freda Warrington is a British author, known for her epic fantasy, vampire and supernatural novels.

Her earliest novels, the Blackbird series, were written and published when she was just finishing her teen years; in the intervening years she has seen numerous stand-alone novels and a trilogy published. (The original Blackbird series has recently been put back into print by Immanion Press.) Four of her novels (Dark Cathedral, Pagan Moon, Dracula, The Undead, and The Amber Citadel) have been nominated for the British Fantasy Society's Best Novel award. Warrington has also seen numerous short stories published in anthologies and magazines.

Born in Leicester, Warrington grew up in Leicestershire. After completing high school, she trained at the Loughborough College of Art and Design and afterward held a job at the Medical Illustration Department of Leicester Royal Infirmary. She eventually moved to full-time writing, pursuing a love she had had since childhood. In addition to her writing, Warrington works part-time in the Charnwood Forest.
Connect with Freda: Website | Facebook

Tor Books has generously offered to give away one finished (and totally GORGEOUS!) copy of Grail Of The Summer Stars to one lucky reader!

Giveaway is open to: US/CANADA
Ends: May 25th

Enter via Rafflecopter below!

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