Here's Marcus's answer to my usual
SCC: At Radu's funeral, the priest surrounds the corpse with hawthorn twigs. In the Celtic mythic tradition the hawthorn is associated, amongst other things with the advance of Summer and the defeat of Winter. Given the theme of the battle between the Shadow Queen and the Winter King which runs throughout My Swordhand is Singing, were you aware of the symbolisms attached to this particular wood when you wrote the book?
MS: The short answer is yes, hawthorn is one of the more magical woods in many European traditions, and I found it enjoyable seeing these things blurred and spread across various folk traditions, including that of the Transylvanian vampire lore. Incidentally, the apparent 'practical' origin of the thorn was that it would pop a bloated corpse, thus taking away some of its apparently evil manifestation.
SCC: Thanks, Marcus. I somehow know that that idea of popping a bloated corpse is going to stay with me for some time.