Freda Warrington's Blog

Thoughts about writing

Elfland!

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.

August 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Elfland, at last!

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!

August 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lost

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.

August 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment