Freda WarringtonAuthor of A Taste of Blood Wine, Grail of the Summer Stars, Elfland, The Court of the Midnight King, Dracula the Undead, A Blackbird in Silver Darkness... and many more fantasy novels and short stories.
The Rainbow Gate and Sorrow's Light
Two stand-alone novels, these don't belong to any series so I've decide to pop them on a page together. They're related to each other only by the fact that they were each inspired by strange dreams! Both were issued in hardback and in paperback.
The Rainbow Gate
New English Library (Hodder) 1989
"She is emerging as a formidable novelist, already in command of dark romance and blighted love." - Vector (BSFA magazine)
Which of the worlds was real? And where were the boundaries?
As a child, Helen and her friend Rianna had wandered freely through Charnwood Forest into an enchanted otherworld of brightly-coloured creatures and strangely beautiful, charismatic people. Then Rianna moved away and the enchantment vanished.
Now, fifteen years later, she has returned suddenly, secretive and haunted. And soon Helen finds herself drawn back across those half-forgotten, ever-shifting boundaries between reality and fable. Drawn back into the twin lands of Tevera: the sun-bright, singing lands of the Chalcenians and the chill, sad underworld of the Domendrans.
Very different but connected worlds, their pull is growing stronger. An age-old conflict between the realms of light and darkness is breaking through into Helen's everyday world, dragging in her loved ones too. Wonder gives way to bewilderment and fright. As they come to understand the enigmatic people of Tevera, they realise that they must play their part in the conflict that will save or destroy our own world.
Author's comment... For my first four books I was in the "Blackbird" world so this was almost like writing my first novel! The idea originated from several different strands. Firstly, I wanted to write about Bradgate Park and Charnwood Forest (in Leicestershire, England) where I spent my formative and inspirational time, and still do. It's a wild landscape of hills, ancient volcanic rocks, oak trees and bracken with an otherworldly feel - as the main character Helen discovers when she finds the walls have disappeared and the park goes on forever.
Another strand was a bizarre and rather daft dream I had, which was supposedly an episode of Doctor Who! In this dream, the idea was that when you died, you passed to the underworld and were given a "soul doll". If you could make the doll come to life, it meant you had a particularly strong spirit and had earned another bash at life.
I was also eager to incorporate a local legend, Black Annis, a child-eating witch who was supposed to dwell in Leicester. I moved her to Bradgate Park, as a housing development had obliterated her original cave! In reality, Black Annis was no mere witch but the Wind Hag herself - the Crone manifestation of the Great Goddess. These elements all came together to produce a strange and rather intriguing story. Cover artist Mick van Houten, using photos I sent him, painted a terrific representation of Bradgate Park.
I returned to the Charnwood landscape (albeit setting the story in a fictional village) for my 2009 novel, Elfland. However, there's nothing of The Rainbow Gate's concepts in Elfland, so I can only conclude they take place in parallel realities!
Pan Macmillan 1993 hardback, trade paperback and paperback
Iolithie is cousin to the Royal Family, content in her life as she blossoms into adulthood. Then Prince Tykavn's intended princess is slaughtered by the Unseen - the evil supernatural denizens of the Stolen Land - and Iolithie is chosen as the replacement bride.
Outwardly, her Prince is all she could have hoped, but in the privacy of their bedchamber, Iolithie discovers her husband is more than just deeply religious. His elaborate rituals and rites to placate the sun-god Ama are becoming an obsession, his intense devotion a crippling illness.
The priests and counsellors, even her own family, ignore her pleas, until Iolithie has only one chance to save her Prince. She must travel to the mother-kingdom Onafross and beg help from the King, her father-in-law. But to get there, she must cross the Stolen Land, where the Unseen worship the demon-goddess Sudema, the Evening Star ... and kill any of Ama's children who trespass on their domain ...
Author's comment... A one-off and rather strange little fantasy partly inspired by a visit to Iceland (the country, not the supermarket) and partly by witnessing at close quarters the appalling distress that can be caused by OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) and other psychological problems, combined with a wish to explore the blurred boundaries of superstition and religious ritual.
The whole plot dropped into my head in one of those rare moments of revelation as I woke up from a dream one morning. Sorrow's Light never received much attention (despite lovely cover art by David Bergen), but nevertheless, the journalist and writer Stan Nicholls wrote an excellent critical review of it in the St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers.