It is another interview packed weekend on Amberkatze's Book Blog. My first first guest this weekend is author Helen Scott Taylor . Her award winning debut book THE MAGIC KNOT was the first book in her Magic Knot Fairies series. Book #2 THE PHOENIX CHARM is already out and I had the pleasure of reading it.
If you would like to read a sample of Helen's work then you can read her free story called Jack's Garden. To try and win a copy of the PHOENIX CHARM then read till the end of the interview.
Enjoy getting to know Helen!
Amber - Welcome to Amberkatze's Book Blog! It is great to have you here as a guest! Could you start things off by telling us a little about your Magic Knot Fairies series?
Helen - As I live in the UK, I naturally explored the local Celtic myths when I conceived my fantasy world for The Magic Knot fairies. The myths and legends about fairies are so rich and varied that they provide a wonderful starting point to create fantasy worlds. I have used all kinds of fairies in my stories, Cornish piskies, a vampiric nightstalker with wings, shape shifters, beautiful immortals, the list goes on. I love the idea of another secret world where these beautiful people with magical powers exist alongside our mundane world.
Amber - How did you come up with the idea for The Magic Knot Fairies series? Was it a long process or did it just come to you?
Helen - The first book in the series, The Magic Knot, started life in my head as a short contemporary story about identical twin Irish brothers who ran a pub in Cornwall. This is because when I started writing I attempted short contemporary romance before I tried paranormal. When Harlequin rejected my first story because my characters were too unconventional, my Irish brothers morphed into fairies and my Magic Knot world was born. When I wrote the first book, I intended it as a standalone, but my subconscious must have wanted to make it a series as I wrote in a number of secondary characters who begged for their own stories.
Amber - The second book in the series, THE PHOENIX CHARM, was not long ago released. What is THE PHOENIX CHARM all about? Do you need to read THE MAGIC KNOT first?
Helen – The Phoenix Charm is the sequel to The Magic Knot, set in my Celtic contemporary fantasy world. (The book works as a standalone story as well.) The hero of The Phoenix Charm, Michael, is left in charge of his small nephews. Michael is a storyteller with an eye for the ladies, a taste for Irish whisky, and heaps of fairy glamour. In short, he’s a bit of a rascal. When one of his nephews is trapped in the Underworld, he has to shape up fast. With the help of the Cornish pisky wise woman, Cordelia, and Nightshade, a vampiric winged fairy, he travels to the Underworld to rescue the child.
Amber -What inspired you to use Cornwall and Wales in The Phoenix Charm? Have you ever visited the UK?
Helen - I live in Devon, in the English West country, just over the border from Cornwall. As I know the area well it seemed to be the logical place to set my stories. I have had many wonderful vacations in Wales, and the idea that in Welsh Celtic mythology The Welsh Fairy King is also King of the Underworld caught my imagination.
Amber - Are you like any of your characters? Do you base any of the characters of your books on people you know?
Helen – My characters come straight from my imagination. The only character I’ve based on a real person is the heroine’s cat familiar in The Phoenix Charm. I based Tamsy on my own cat. I would love to be bonded to my cat and be able to feel her thoughts and see through her eyes.
Amber - What kind of research do you have to do to write a book? Anything interesting or is research boring?
Helen – Research, especially creating my fantasy world, is my favorite part of writing. I set my Magic Knot Fairies series in places near where I live so I could visit them. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Dublin and the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland where part of The Magic Knot is set, and Wales where part of The Phoenix Charm is set. This summer I spent two weeks visiting castles and other historic sites in Scotland to do research for my third book, The Ruby Kiss, which will be out at the end of 2010.I love reading up about fairies and folk law. I have a shelf full of research books jammed with sticky tabs marking all my favorite parts.
Amber - How many more books will there be in the series? Are you working on any other projects you would like to tell us about?
Helen - I plan five books and two novellas in this world. The first three books are contracted—two out and the third, The Ruby Kiss, scheduled for release on December 28 2010. I have a novella allied to the Magic Knot fairies in The Mammoth Book of Irish Romance out now and another novella due out in October 2010 in an anthology called A Midwinter Fantasy.
Amber - How do you pick the names you use in your books? Do they have any special meanings?
Helen –I love picking names. I spend a while getting them right and they have to suit the character. I usually use Internet sites that list names as reference.
Amber - Have you always wanted to be an author? and why did you pick this genre?
Helen - I have always loved reading, and when I was young, I enjoyed making up stories. For many years, I concentrated on my career, then building my business and my family. It was only when I turned forty and I started looking for something I felt was missing from my life that I rediscovered my love of storytelling. My favorite genres to read are romance and fantasy so writing paranormal or fantasy romance made sense.
Amber - What is the easiest and hardest part about being an author?
Helen –For me, the easiest part is the research. I’m researching the Victorians at the moment for a new series and loving it. The hardest part for me is promotion because I’d always rather be writing.
Amber - How do you relax? Do you have any hobbies?
Helen –I like to walk and watch movies sometimes. My leisure time is often spent reading.
Amber – A lot of authors have 'soundtracks' for their books. Is there any music influenced your books?
Helen – I made up a soundtrack with Irish Celtic songs before I started writing The Magic Knot. I tend to have tracks that evoke certain characters. I listen to Evanescence a lot as that always makes me think of my character Troy.
Amber - What books do you enjoy reading? Do you have any favourite authors/series?
Helen – I have eclectic tastes and read a variety of genres. My favorite reads are romance, fantasy, and mystery. I’ll read any type of romance or women’s fiction.
Amber - If you could be any paranormal creature, what would you be and why?
Helen – A cat shape shifter because I love cats. I would love to have a cat familiar like my heroine in The Phoenix Charm.
Amber - Thank you for visiting Amberkatze's Book Blog! I hope you will come back for another visit in the future!
Helen- Thank you so much for having me as a guest. It’s been a pleasure.
Helen has kindly said that she will give away a signed copy of The Phoenix Charm to one lucky commenter.
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The contest will stay open until Sunday 25th of April 2010 4pm CET and the winner will be picked by a randomizer. Entrants should check back to see if they have won. I do not hunt down winners and will pick new winners for any prizes not claimed within 7 days.