Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on Tor.com featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!
Today we’re joined by Freda Warrington, author of Grail of the Summer Stars, Elfland, The Court of the Midnight King, Dracula the Undead, A Blackbird in Silver Darkness, and many other fantasy novels. Her latest novel, A Taste of Blood Wine, is available now from Titan Books.
Join us as we cover subjects ranging from Stevie Nicks to the seven dwarves, and more!
If you could be reincarnated as any historical figure, who would you like to be?
I’m very tempted to say Richard III. I know things did not end well for him, but it would be my only chance to learn what he was really like, what he thought and how he felt and why he acted as he did—that would be irresistible. (Perhaps I could go back as my own alternative history version of him from my novel The Court of the Midnight King?) I would love to know how his life really was. I would make sure he wrote everything down and kept full records for the benefit of future historians! And I would love to know how he would feel to learn that there is such massive interest in him, over 500 years after his death. I still get shivers to think he was lying under a car park that I must have walked past scores of times…
If you could choose your own personal theme song to play every time you enter a room, what would you pick?
I can’t think of one, but I think the idea of having a personal theme tune that plays whenever you enter the room is absolutely hilarious. It works especially well for cats. Oh wait—I have one! Of course. It would have to be “The Ace of Spades” by Motorhead. I requested it as our wedding march but my husband seemed to think I was joking!
Bad news: You’re about to be marooned alone on a desert island—name the five things you would bring along.
Oh my goodness, that’s a challenging question. I think you should lay down more rules or people will be taking entire houses, libraries and towns with them! I would like my husband, but I don’t think he counts as a “thing,” so let’s try to be realistic. I’m assuming there would be basic foodstuffs like milk on the island? I would like an unlimited supply of my favourite tea, and ditto a nice red wine. A DVD player with a boxed set of The Big Bang Theory—but if you let me have more than one TV series I’d be taking Buffy, Doctor Who and I don’t know what else! Music-wise, a compilation of all my favourite Stevie Nicks songs. That only leaves one thing… the obvious choice would be a book so it would have to be something really useful, like a massive encyclopedia. Either that, or my childhood teddy bear for companionship? Which would leave you less lonely? Perhaps I could have my bear fitted with a hard drive, so that every time I pull a string he tells me a piece of fascinating knowledge that I’ll never be able to use because, um, I’m stuck on a desert island!
If you could name a planet after anyone (other than yourself), who would you choose and why?
I would like to bestow a planet with my husband’s last name, Llewellyn. The planet Llewellyn would be small, rugged, rocky, tough yet benevolent, with a big smile—not unlike the moon, in fact. Can we rename the moon?
That’s an easy one. My most recent book to be published is a gothic vampire romance, A Taste of Blood Wine (Titan) which will soon be followed by its sequels (A Dance in Blood Velvet and The Dark Blood of Poppies). I originally started the earliest version in the 1980s, then worked on the novels properly in the early 1990s, when they were first published in the UK. I always listened to Stevie Nicks a lot and loved her blend of dark romance and rock, so her albums—especially Bella Donna and Wild Heart—became a kind of soundtrack in my head to A Taste of Blood Wine. She inspired the atmosphere, to the extent that—even though she may have been singing about something else entirely—I felt she was singing my story! Listen to songs like “Sisters of the Moon,” “Wild Heart,” “Outside the Rain,” and “Beauty and the Beast” and you’ll get the idea.
What D&D character alignment best describes you first thing in the morning?
I had to select this question, for the simple reason that I have absolutely no idea what it means. But if I was one of the seven dwarves, Grumpy.
Choose your preferred fictional vacation spot: Narnia or Middle Earth (or some other fictional realm)…
Actually the place I’d really love to visit is the Blue Plane H’tebhmella, a weird dimension that appears in my first published novel, A Blackbird in Silver. It’s a very tranquil, ethereal place, weird and unearthly and very beautiful. I admit to being somewhat inspired by the paintings of Roger Dean! However, the catch is that it’s not a human realm—it’s too perfect and changeless, which means that most humans can’t endure staying there for too long.
What was your gateway to SF/Fantasy, as a child or young adult?
Difficult to pin down exactly—we had fairy tales of course, but just regarded them as part of normal literature, not something of a distinct genre. I remember having The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe read to us at school, but I hated it! I’ve no idea why—it wasn’t until I was about twelve that I grew to enjoy the Narnia books. I loved The Lord of the Rings, but actually it was a combination of Ray Bradbury, Michael Moorcock, Tanith Lee and Alan Garner that really got me into fantasy. They had such weird and wonderful imaginations, and created worlds where anything could happen.
What would your Patronus/familiar be?
A hare. I don’t know why, or what it says about me. It just is a hare.
If you were secretly going to write fanfic (or, even better, slashfic) about any two characters, who would they be?
This could triple up with the “guilty secret” question and the “favourite monster” question—Spike and Buffy. Or anything with Spike!
List three things you’d like our readers to know about you and your work.
- I write best when I’m feeling passionate about my characters—not just in the romantic sense, but in every sense: completely emotionally invested in the story. I always hope the reader will take out of the story all the heart and soul I put in.
- Of the 20 (so far) novels I’ve written, I’m most fond of my vampire series, A Taste of Blood Wine, A Dance in Blood Velvet, and The Dark Blood of Poppies (Titan). I hope people will realize they were written a loooong time before the more recent vampire crazes, and that they’ll enjoy the 1920s setting and all the aforementioned passion. Oh, that makes it sound as if I wrote them in the 1920s! I’m not quite that old!
- I never know whether to be offended or flattered when people express surprise that they’ve really enjoyed one of my books. Why are they so surprised?? Sometimes they say, “I don’t even like fantasy, but I really liked this!” On balance, I’m pleased. What I would most like your readers to know about my work is that I would be very, very happy if they’d give it a try! They might be pleasantly surprised…