Interview with Freda Warrington by Bloodlust-UK’s Editor

(Editor’s Note: these interviews date 2001-2009, so some information may not be current)

Freda Warrington is the author of a fantastic vampire trilogy, as well as being a renowned fantasy author, her books include

+ A Taste of Blood Wine

+ A Dance in Blood Velvet

+ The Dark Blood of Poppies

+ Dark Cathedral

+ Amber Citadel

+ Sapphire Throne
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‘One one of the best young British writers of fantasy.’ – Publishing News

‘A writer of increasingly mature assurance.’ – Stan Nicholls, St James Guide to Fantasy Writers

‘She is emerging as a formidable novelist, already in command of dark romance and blighted love’ – Vector

‘Seriously out-Rices Anne.’ – The Vampyre Society

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Ed: “When did you start writing and why?”

Freda: “I started writing little stories almost as soon as I could write, when I was around five I think. It was partly because my Dad gave me a love of storytelling and taught me to read before I even went to school. Also I think being an only child had a lot to do with it. I was used to amusing myself, and quite shy so I didn’t much enjoy the rough and tumble of other children. I was always happier on my own with a book or my daydreams, and writing was a natural progression from that.”

Ed: “A Taste of Blood Wine was your seventh novel. Why ‘vampires’ at this stage in your career ?”

Freda: “I have always been fascinated by vampires, used to sit up watching Hammer films with my Mum as a child, read Bram Stoker and JS LeFanu quite young, and started a vampire novel in my teens, so it wasn’t a new thing. The first version of A Taste of Blood Wine was written eight or nine years before the actual novel appeared in print, but was put ‘in a drawer’ so to speak while I worked on my fantasy books. I said to my agent several times ‘I’ve got this vampire novel I want to work on’ and he kept saying ‘the time isn’t right’ – this was before Anne Rice became huge! But finally my publisher decided they wanted it, so I was able to go back and have great fun rewriting the rather dreadful early version.”

Ed: “What qualities/attributes do you think makes vampires such an enduring icon in literature and film? “

Freda: “I think it’s because they are such paradoxical creatures. They represent things we fear, such as death or the dead coming back to life, yet also things we might desire, such as eternal youth or power over others. They can be terrifying or tragic, horrific or sexy, needy and hungry or aloof and mysterious. They can be anything to anyone, really. You can identify with them or battle against them. They are like the darkest side of ourselves.”

Ed: “Are any of the characters’ personalities based on real people?”

Freda: “I suppose Charlotte is a bit of me, really – I’m sure I would have been exactly that sort of hopeless quivering wreck if I was thrown into that awful high society party scene! And Holly in A Dance in Blood Velvet was based on a friend of mine who said ‘Please can I be a character in your next book?’ Unfortunately Holly turned out nothing like my friend at all, so I decided it is not a good idea to base characters on real people. Most are just out of my imagination. However, a few weeks ago, someone else asked me if he can be horribly killed in my next book, so I shall do my best to accommodate his wishes!”

Ed: “Did you plan the vampire books as a trilogy?”

Freda: “No, it just evolved that way. A Taste of Blood Wine was meant to be a one-off. But then the character of Violette popped into my head one day and I found I had so much to say about her it took another two books to say it!”

Ed: “How long does it take you to write a novel?”

Freda: “About a year, on average. The quickest I have ever done it is four months – I was given a rather ridiculous deadline for ‘Dark Cathedral’ – but that was a lot of pressure. Physically it is possible to write the words very fast, but the delay comes in having to work out the plot, the structure, the setting, and so on – not to mention the intrusions of everyday life!”

Ed: “How do you plan your day when you are ‘mid novel’?”

Freda: “Rather chaotically, I’m afraid. If I am feeling energetic and inspired, I can start at 8 or 9 am and work through until 8 or 9 in the evening. Unfortunately good days are balanced by bad days when I feel brain-dead and can’t write a word! When this happens you might as well give up and do something else, rather than sit at the PC torturing yourself! I try to set myself minimum page targets, say 3 pages, so at least I will have written something and not wasted the entire day. It’s hardest with the first draft, when I don’t quite know where I’m going with it. My favourite part is rewriting, when I’ve got the ‘skeleton’ there and I can enjoy filling the story out and giving it a final polish.”

Ed: “Can we expect any more vampire novels from you, Freda?”

Freda: “I had plans for a fourth, when unfortunately that particular publisher decided to drop most of its fantasy authors. So it never got written. But I would really like to go back to that world one day, I’m sure there is lots more to say about Karl and Charlotte and Violette and all my other beloved blood-draining fiends. Fingers crossed it will happen one day…”

Ed: “What advice would you give to aspiring writers?”

Freda: “Don’t be too precious about your work. Unless you are a genius, there’s always room for improvement. The best writers are usually those who are prepared to take constructive criticism and do plenty of rethinking and rewriting. Try to find a group of like-minded friends so you can read each other’s work, discuss ideas and make suggestions for strengthening it. This kind of feedback can be enormously helpful. Then when you are ready to sell your work, get the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook – this is the writers’ bible, with lots of helpful advice and addresses of publishers and agents. Be prepared for a lot of rejection – this is usually no reflection on the quality of your work – and be very patient!”

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