Woo hoo! ELFLAND has been published at last. It’s in hardback, with a beautiful cover by renowned artist KY Craft. And yes, my copies turned up.
And I’ve finally got my new website up and running – including info on all my books, cover images, thoughts on writing and lots more. That has almost completely occupied my time over the past couple of weeks. Speaking as a very novice web designer, I’m quite pleased with my own efforts! No doubt there is much room for improvement, but I can build on what I’ve learned.
You can find it at www.fredawarrington.com. Let me know if you’d like to swap links to your own author site or book-lovers’ site. Check the Links page – you might already be on there.
Excitingly, I found a lovely review of Elfland at the FantasyLiterature.net site – this review was also posted on Amazon. I hope ‘Melusine’ doesn’t mind me reproducing her words but I can’t resist – it’s the sort of review every writer hopes to receive!
5.0 out of 5 stars They Just Don’t Write ‘Em Like That Anymore, August 18, 2009 by Melusine (www.FantasyLiterature.net) (Columbia, MO United States) – See all my reviews (TOP 500 REVIEWER)
Cross Elizabeth Hand with Fire and Hemlock, and you might end up with something like Freda Warrington’s Elfland. This is the kind of big, sweeping modern faerie tale that you don’t see often on the adult shelves anymore. There’s been some beautiful work done in YA recently, but in the adult realm, the trend has been away from novels like this. And that’s a shame. Elfland is complex, rich, sensual, beautifully written, and sometimes heartbreaking.
I devoured Elfland. I carried it with me everywhere for four days, because I never knew when I might have a spare five minutes to steal a page or two. When I was at work, I looked forward to going home so I could read more. I read late into the night, every night. I was hooked. That, to me, is the surest sign of a five-star book: the complete inability to put it down unless I absolutely have to!
Our heroine, Rosie Fox, is of Aetherial (fae) descent, living with her family just this side of the Great Gates that divide our world from the Otherworld. Rosie’s haughty neighbor, Lawrence Wilder, is the Gatekeeper, and as such, is supposed to open the Gates every seven years to allow travel, and a flow of energy, between the realms. As the story opens, however, he has shut the Gates, claiming a great danger lurks on the other side. Elfland follows Rosie, her family and friends, and Lawrence’s family over the course of the next fourteen years. Fourteen years: long enough for a girl to grow into a woman, for loves to be lost and found, and for family secrets to explode. Long enough for some Aetherials to decide it’s better to deny their fae nature, and for others to resort to desperate measures to reopen the Gates.
At its heart, Elfland is about how denying one’s true self is a sure path to disaster. It’s also a love story. I usually don’t go for romances in which the hero and heroine bicker, but Warrington makes the trope sing. Rosie and her eventual love interest get off on the wrong foot as kids, and the way their relationship develops seems painfully realistic to me, with the characters slipping back into snarky retorts because they’re familiar, and because the retorts serve as an outlet for emotions more disturbing than anger. Both characters have a lot of growing to do before they’re a good match for each other. Elfland is, in part, the story of that growth, and of the sometimes wrenching mistakes made along the way.
When the plot moves into the Otherworld, Warrington handles the journey perfectly. It would have been easy to let the story get bogged down in travelogue here, to slow the pace down by showing the reader every single strange thing that populates the Aetherial realms. Warrington doesn’t fall into this trap. She gives us a glimpse of how beautiful and how terrifying Elfland can be, but leaves some things to the imagination, and keeps the focus firmly on the characters’ quest. This has a dual effect: it keeps the plot moving, and it allows the Otherworld to retain some of its mystery.
Overall, I loved Elfland. It’s a sumptuous feast of a novel, filled with vivid characters, magical locales both earthly and Aetherial, and a complicated plot in which nearly every detail turns out to be significant in the end. I’ll definitely be looking up Freda Warrington’s backlist.
ELFLAND comes out on Tuesday (18th August) – it’s been such a long wait, I can hardly believe it’s here at last! I haven’t yet actually received any advance copies! They are probably somewhere in the postal system, but it’s more than a little frustrating… I’m longing to see the finished book, and won’t quite believe it’s real until I do. Meanwhile, I’ve been asked to do several on-line interviews or articles, so that’s all good.
I’ve been working hard to design myself a new website. Probably anyone sensible would pay a professional to do it, but that would a) cost too much and b) not help me understand how these things are done. I created my original website with a very basic WYSIWYG programme and zero knowledge of html. It’s probably a good job AOL decided to send all their members’ websites to the crusher as it’s forced me to design something better. Well, I now have a basic knowledge of CSS – that is, I know how it should work – but I can’t always make it work, so I’ve had to resort to a more primitive method of layout in order to get any kind of site up at all! Oh well. My streamlined, sophisticated site mark 3 will have to wait until I actually know what I’m doing…
Spent all morning trimming bushes and trying to tidy up the tiny jungle that is our garden. I’m now knackered. My sore shoulder is even more sore. Aargh. But we saw a baby goldfinch this morning, a very vocal, demanding fledgling, being fed by its dad!
Aargh! How on earth do you manage to lose an entire short story? I’ve just finished the new one, so I decided to start putting all my vampire short stories together, with a view to producing a ‘Blood Wine’ anthology one day. Most were in the folder where I expected them to be, but there was one called ‘Little Goose’ that I wrote for David Howe’s ‘F20 2’ anthology in 2001. Could I find it? It wasn’t on my hard drive. It wasn’t on any back-up disk. I couldn’t find a hard copy – and I ALWAYS keep a print-out – and I couldn’t even find my copy of the anthology itself!!
Bizarre. It’s a good job I’m not superstitious or I would have suspected gremlins afoot. However, Dave H came to the rescue – I emailed him, and he was able to send me the text of my story. It was then I realised I couldn’t find the document on my PC because it was called ‘Pride’ and not ‘Little Goose’ at all. (The anthology was based on the seven deadly sins, and ‘Pride’ was my sin!) Anyway, thanks to Dave, I have the story again. I still have no idea where my printed copies are, but at least I have the text!
The new story is for Ian Whates’ next anthology, ‘The Bitten Word.’ I’ve used one of the characters from The Dark Blood of Poppies, Sebastian, because he just seems to lend himself to short fiction. And actually, he appeared in ‘Little Goose’ too, which was why I wanted to re-read it. Having sent off the new story on Monday, and looked at the old one today, I find that Sebastian is more obsessed by crumbling, decaying houses than I realised! The new one’s called ‘The Fall of the House of Blackwater’… say no more.
Since I wrote last time, Harry Patch has now died too, only a few days after Henry Allingham. (There is another British veteran of the First World War still alive, Claude Choules, 108, who served in the navy and now lives in Australia). Harry Patch was the last veteran from the trenches. It’s awe-inspiring that these men lived so long, and unspeakably moving to think that they are or were the last living link with those times. After their experiences, both Harry Patch and Henry Allingham were vehemently anti-war. In honouring both men, the country acknowledges the sacrifices made by the thousands who died in the Great War…
So how is it that, in the same week, the government is battling in the courts to cut compensation to soldiers injured in the present conflict? Have they no shame? They aren’t fit to polish the boots of Harry Patch and his fellows.
An article I wrote, about the writing of Elfland and thoughts on writing in general, has appeared on the BSC Review website… you can view it here.
I’ve been working on my vampire short story today, getting incredibly distracted when a bit of information I needed (about inheritance laws in 1800s Ireland) took way too long to discover… I’m not even sure now of the answer. With the whole net at our fingertips, why is finding out a tiny snippet of information so darn difficult?!? I was also distracted by the appearance, during a downfall of rain, of a great big frog on our lawn. Beautiful!
So Henry Allingham, one of the last WWI veterans, has died. Sad, sad, sad. Apparently he was the world’s oldest man, and it’s strange to think that if my gran was still alive (she died in1984) she would have been 109… still four years younger than Henry Allingham! Last Remembrance Day I saved the picture of the three surviving veterans from the paper, because I knew it was a historic scene that wouldn’t be repeated. I think there is only one British veteran left now, Harry Patch.
It has to be said, I’ve had a pretty good summer so far. Mum and I have just made our annual pilgrimage to Ragdale Hall, where we had three days of total relaxation. I’ve yet to persuade Mike to come with us, as he insists he would be ‘bored’. Well! I’ve tried to persuade him that there’s no need to be bored since, if he reached saturation point with massages and other pampering treatments, exercise classes and gym, walks around the lovely gardens and countryside, the incredible swimming pool and spa – not forgetting the yummy food, no starvation diets here – he could sit in any one of umpteen lovely places and read a book. Which is exactly what he does at home anyway! Ah well. One day. The only slight problem was the weather, which was just TOO hot – our bedroom, although lovely, was impossible to get cool – but we survived. Although I was happy to come home after 3 days, I look forward to going back. Such a lovely, soothing atmosphere there.
Oh, one other small problem. Broke a tooth eating a Ryvita. B****cks! Have to phone dentist and get it repaired – but it doesn’t hurt, so didn’t spoil the stay.
My dear friend Stephanie, on her LJ, wrote a fabulous list of ten ways to beat writer’s block. Here’s an eleventh – a visit to Ragdale! With my mind completely empty as I sipped a coffee and stared at the sky, I suddenly saw a direction for this vampire short story I’m meant to be writing. Later I sat out in the gardens in a swing seat, with birds chirping and ducks quacking all around me, and scribbled seven pages of notes. Result!
So, we came home on Friday, and on the Saturday (yesterday), Mike and I went on a guided ‘Deer Walk’ in Bradgate Park (my special and favourite place in the world). I mainly wanted to do this in order to visit the ‘deer sanctuary’, an area not normally accessible to the public. We were lucky with the weather as the threatening rain held off, and it was absolutely BEAUTIFUL – a wild, unspoiled area of hills and rocks, covered in oak trees and bracken. The head ranger took us around – only 4 of us; apparently they had 22 people last week so I can only assume everyone was watching Wimbledon – and gave us the benefit of many years’ experience managing herds of fallow and red deer. We even glimpsed a few, including some youngsters, but my main interest was in seeing a part of the Park I’d never set foot in before. The ranger certainly gave us our money’s worth as we were walking for at least two and a half hours. I took masses of photos which have come out wonderfully. Everything was so green and lush – in fact, the ranger told us that this part of the Park, because it’s so well-preserved, still appears as it would have done five hundred years ago! Five hundred years. We were walking through an authentic medieval landscape.
Hi, I’m new to WordPress and on the lookout for folk interested in writing, reading and talking about fiction, fantasy in particular. I’m the author of nineteen novels, the next of which is ELFLAND being published by Tor in the US in August.