Giveaways Inspirations and Influences

Grail of the Summer Stars Blog Tour & Giveaway: Freda Warrington on Inspirations & Influences

“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their…well, Inspirations and Influences. The cool thing is that the writers are given free rein so they can go wild and write about anything they want. It can be about their new book, series or about their career as a whole.

Today we are thrilled to welcome Freda Warrington as our guest of the day! Freda is the author of the outstanding fantasy series, the Aetherial tales: Elfland, Midsummer Night and now Grail of the Summer Stars. To celebrate the release of the third book in the series, we are delighted to have the talented Warrington over to talk inspirations and influences.

Grail of the Summer Stars Freda Warrington

Give a warm welcome to Freda, folks!

Write Until You Fly by Freda Warrington

Hi Book Smugglers, I’m so pleased to be invited back. It’s always fun to talk about the process of writing, especially when a new book is coming out – I’m sitting at my desk looking at the beautiful copy of Grail of the Summer Stars that arrived yesterday. Beautiful, she adds hurriedly, thanks to the gorgeous cover artwork by Kinuko Craft – although I do hope you’ll enjoy the contents as well. What you need to know about the amazing Ms Craft is that she actually reads the whole manuscript of every book she illustrates. She did so with the first two Aetherial Tales, Elfland and Midsummer Night, too. Study her paintings, and you can see all sorts of details that she could only have gleaned by reading the story. A mermaid-like figure entwined with a weird water-serpent, a ruined temple, a mysterious glass sphere full of stars…

Elfland Midsummer Night

Grail of the Summer Stars can be read as a stand-alone, although it helps if you have read the first two because it completes a background arc across the three stories. Although the Aetherial Tales are set in the real world, my un-human Aetherial characters often wander off into the Otherworld. As for Grail, I wanted to write a mystery that was also an adventure, and a romance, and eventually several other (unplanned) things too.

Unplanned revelations that lift your story off the ground and take it to places you didn’t expect are so satisfying. The best part of writing is reaching that magical place where you no longer care about any other book you’ve ever read, any film you’ve seen, or the “imaginary critic” looking over your shoulder. You become so immersed in your own created world that it takes on a life of its own, and becomes so real that the novel almost writes itself. That’s what I call flying – especially when you’re not even tempted to look down!

It’s not always easy reaching that happy place. Every time I start a new book, it’s like standing at the bottom of the mountain again and wondering how I’ll ever get up that steep rugged trail. Sometimes – when I’ve had enough of staring at a blank screen! – I’ll go to my bookshelf and pull out some favourites to remind myself that putting one word in front of another is not impossible, after all. The books that help are nearly always very old friends from my teenage years. Perhaps Red Moon, Black Mountain by Joy Chant, or The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle, or a Tanith Lee novel, awash with gothic imagery and colour. Maybe some Alan Garner or Michael Moorcock. I might look at favourite paintings or listen to music to ease me into the “zone”.

Red Moon Black Mountain The Last Unicorn

Of course I loved CS Lewis and Tolkien too, but they are not my go-to books when I need a kick-start. Forgive me if my memory’s faulty, but I don’t remember much mystery in Lord of the Rings. More a case of – “Here come the ring-wraiths, this is how they became what they are, now run like hell!” or, “Here is One Ring, and this is what we must do to destroy it…” LotR was more about “How?” than “What the heck…?”

For Grail I wanted to capture a feel of enigma wrapped in mystery, or however the saying goes. Stevie, a museum curator, receives a strange, mesmeric painting from an old friend, Daniel. But why has he sent it, and why has he gone missing? That’s just the start as Stevie tries to unravel the deeper mystery of who she really is, and what the gorgeous stranger Mistangamesh wants with her, and what’s become of his naughty brother Rufus… and then all the stuff that lies even deeper in the Otherworld. The biggest surprise for me was the resolution of an arc that simmered in the background of the first two novels. I didn’t realize it was going to be so crucial until a certain character loomed up in the story and gave me a revelation – aha, so that’s what this is about!

Thank you, subconscious. I love you. (Sometimes!) Anyway, although Grail of the Summer Stars reaches a fairly epic conclusion, I’ve a feeling that my imagination is very far from finished with my Aetherial universe. To me, it’s a special place in which there are yet more stories to be told.

About the Author:

Freda Warrington, who was born in and lives in Leicestershire, England, is the author of twenty novels. GRAIL OF THE SUMMER STARS is her third Aetherial Tales novel, her first series to be published in the United States. The first, ELFLAND, was named Best Fantasy of the Year by RT Book Reviews.

Follow Freda on her website, blog, and on facebook.

Giveaway Details:

Grail of the Summer Stars

We have one copy of Grail of the Summer Stars up for grabs! The contest is open to ALL and will run until Sunday May 12 at 12:01am EST. To enter, use the form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

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  • Tim R
    May 5, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    I’m going to go with Charles de Lint’s The Little Country.

  • Katy K.
    May 5, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Thank you for the lovely thoughts, Freda, and for adding yet more books to my TBR list – both yours and Joy Chant, which I feel like I ought to have read already but haven’t.

  • Stephanie Burgis
    May 5, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    My first favorite was Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks, but I also really love Freda’s Elfland!

  • scribe kira
    May 5, 2013 at 2:05 pm


  • Gerd D.
    May 5, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    I think I’ll go with Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson/Charles & Anna novels.
    Come for the werewolves stay for the fairies. 🙂

  • Birthe V
    May 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    I haven’t read much about faries, and would love to read Freda Warrington. Robert Jordan’s “The wheel of time” is one of my favourites.

  • Mary Anne
    May 5, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    There are three urban fantasy novels from the 80s that always remind me of each other, even though they are not the same. Emma Bull’s “War for the Oaks”, Charles de Lint’s “Jack the Giant Killer” and “Gossamer Axe” by Gael Baudino. There were elves and battle and all the old fairy tale creatures, made either really cool, or really scary. In a slightly different tone was R. A. MacAvoy’s “The Grey Horse” (which I had forgot about until I started thinking about this question, and when I was double-checking the spelling for the author’s last name on Amazon, just found it for the Kindle! Yippee!) Irish myths and legends.

  • MarieC
    May 5, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    I love the Fey in the Mercy Thompson series, but I also love the very different Fey in Laurell Hamilton’s Meredith Gentry series.

  • Lexi
    May 5, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    When I was younger I found Bordertown and always loved those stories and the urban fey in them. On a different note, Michelle Sagara and Lynn Flewelling have fey like species in their books that I really enjoy.

  • Emma
    May 5, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Gah, not sure i did the entry form right, but anyway for me the most recent (otherwise it it would be impossible to name one!) would be Juliet Marilliers Wildwood Dancing, which is just magical in all the right ways (although I totally agree with the love for P Briggs)

  • Justine
    May 5, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    My favorite Fey is Tina!

    Bad joke?

    Alright, then I’ll go with books by Maggie Stiefvater and Holly Black.

  • Nathalý H
    May 5, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    I love it!!!!

  • Mary Preston
    May 5, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    It would have to be Disney’s PETER PAN. Tinkerbell has so much attitude!!!

  • Jet
    May 5, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    I imprinted early on Mercedes Lackey’s SERRAted Edge series. Racecar driving elves in the suburbs, sure, I’ll go with that.

  • Jennifer Allis Provost
    May 5, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    My favorite is War For the Oaks by Emma Bull. That phouka!

  • Llehn
    May 6, 2013 at 3:58 am

    Jack of Kinrowan by Charles De Lint.

  • DebraG
    May 6, 2013 at 5:33 am

    I like them in Lord of the Rings.

  • Hebe
    May 6, 2013 at 7:28 am

    Yes, the Elves in The Lord of the Rings are my favourite – if they count – failing that, the elves in Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett are also fascinating.

  • Bibliotropic
    May 6, 2013 at 8:41 am

    I’d have to say that so far, my favourite book involving the fey has to be Except the Queen, by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder. It was a wonderful book, and I loved reading it!

  • Katrina
    May 6, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Valiant by Holly Black: abandoned subway stations, faerie drugs, duels, trolls, iron, it’s got it all!

  • Vanessa
    May 6, 2013 at 10:14 am

    The Nac Mac Feegle have to count as Fey so I’m going to go with the Tiffany Aching books by Terry Pratchett. The Wee Free Men etc.

  • Giada M.
    May 6, 2013 at 10:47 am

    I love The Lord of the Rings. Thank you for this chance! 😀

  • hapax
    May 6, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Hmm. Either the fey in Neil Gaiman’s STARDUST (especially as painted by Charles Vess) or the beautiful and cruel fey in Holly Black’s TITHE sort-of series.

  • Katie J
    May 6, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Lord of The Rings

  • superbwg
    May 6, 2013 at 11:54 am

    So many books to choose from, I am a fantasy freak so I have whole bookshelves dedicated to the fey. The Faery Reel is a short story collection that gives you every possible form of fairy. I loved Wildwood Dancing, Peter Pan, My Fairy Bad Day, like I said so many!

  • Alyssa @ Books Take You Places
    May 6, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Hands down my favorite is definitely The Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier!! These are the kinds of books that first made me LOVE reading. Such a great giveaway, thank you!

  • Jorie
    May 6, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    What captivated my attention initially to cast an entry into “Grail of the Summer Stars” bookaway was the lovely and enchanting cover art for the novels in this series!! Oh my dear stars — when I read that the illustrator who painted them had the inspiration drawn out of the words from the story itself, I was most impressed! I oft wonder why there is less and less cover art being created by illustrators and painters!? Their artwork gives such an added dimension to the story your about to read, and it visually makes the world awaiting your eyes tangible and real, in a way that enhances your reading pleasure! 🙂

    My favourite book or film that involves the fey or fairies!? That’s a bit of a hard choice! I have not become acquainted with many fey in novels, as that is one part of the fantasy genre I am always hopeful to sink myself into! And, of course, there is the possiblity I am forgetting a book at the moment! Therefore, I will mention that the film series I do enjoy seeing is “Tinkerbell” due to how they stitch life lessons into the storylines for children. I also appreciated Julia Robert’s character protrayal of “Tink” in “Hook”. It’s been my intent for awhile to read: Wildwood Dancing! I noticed someone else mentiond this title! I came across it at the library and have had my interest perked ever since!!

    Ironically, I know more of the fey through artwork rather than books or movies! Especially if you hop on Etsy and scope out the lovely artists who create fantasy art! 🙂

    I can personally relate to the feeling of ‘flying’ whilst writing, as I am a writer too, and I have experienced that exact same thing: your fully consumed by the craft and creative muse as it washes over a writer as she or he writes down the bones of the story! Reality and Time take a backseat, because your harkening into your imagination and it’s through your mind’s eye that everything and anything is possible! It’s a wonderful moment for any writer, because you’ve crossed into the world you’ve created in order to tell the story in the best way that you can! 🙂

    I enjoyed getting this glimpse into the author’s writing life, and I will most definitely be requesting this book at my local library — err, rather, series! I adore reading series in order, and if I am blessed to *win!* I will be forever grateful to have stopped by today to be in time for the giveaway!

    A note of gratitude to The Book Smugglers: Thank you for allowing us to write a blog comment to participate! I always struggle to cast entries in Rafflecopter giveaways because I am not social media inclined, and they always involve a service I do not use! Bless you!

  • Serena
    May 7, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Probably the Mercy Thompson series, for me.

  • sarac
    May 7, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    I really like Thea Harrison’s Elder Races books.

  • Lan
    May 8, 2013 at 12:24 am

    Always Peter Pan 🙂

  • Kate
    May 8, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    I will always love Niel Gaimain’s faeries above all others…

  • Christine
    May 8, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Oh, oh, OH! What a lovely post. I read Elfland a couple of years ago and oh, my! I loved it so. It is definitely among my favorite faerie-type stories. I recently read Gaiman’s Stardust and enjoyed it very much.. also loved Except the Queen by Yolen & Snyder.

  • Joanna
    May 8, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Oh my those covers on Freda’s books are amazing!! Lord of the Rings was my first real exposure to fantasy so I’ll go with that.

  • Pip
    May 8, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Probably Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier, or Valiant by Holly Black (I am a sucker for love stories haha)

  • Alexandra the Great
    May 8, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    I would have to say O.R. Melling’s entire work, but The Chronicles of Faerie and The Singing Stone stand out in particular. I discovered these when I was probably 10 or 11, and they still hold up so well. Magic + the fae + Ireland + plucky (usually Canadian) heroines = happy me. Her books also taught me to fake my way through Irish pronunciation, so there is that too 🙂

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  • iatetheoreos
    May 10, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    My favorite book with fairies in it is definitely Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

  • SueCCCP
    May 11, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    The funniest ‘fair’ folk are definitely the Mac Nac Feegles in Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series, but my favorite is still the pixies in Kim Harrison’s Hollows series: Jenx is my hero! 🙂

  • Alison
    May 11, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    I would choose Tad William’s Shadowmarch series

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