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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Author Interview & Contest with Helen Scott Taylor

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.


Contest Time

Helen has kindly said that she will give away a signed copy of The Phoenix Charm to one lucky commenter.

How to Enter

If you were writing a book, what location would you use??

No Location - No Entry!

Earn more entries for each place you link this contest on the net. You can post on Facebook, Twitter & MySpace but make sure you add links here for me to confirm your entries!

You can also earn extra entries by emailing your friends about the contest. Just make sure you send a copy of your email or receipt to me at Amberkatzes_book_blog at gmx dot net.

Make sure you post your links here so I can confirm your entries.

Keep the contests going by using the Amazon links below and around the site!

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.

Good Luck!


Unknown said...

Well If I would choose a location it would be in Idaho because Idaho is beautiful it has beautiful mountains and lakes,and because you never really see book settings in Idaho

Rosie said...

That's an easy one. If I were writing a book, it would be set in Scotland. I just love the history, beauty of the country, and slight mysticism that goes along with the Scottish countryside. It would probably be a time travel.

Blodeuedd said...

Since I love Ireland, Scotland and Wales I would set it there...or be really different and place it here in Finland, no one does that

Roxy said...

Don't enter me, I've already won a copy. Just wanted to say I read it and really enjoyed it.

If I wrote I book, I would choose Egypt as a setting. Its just always fascinated me.

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Hi Amber, thank you for having me as your guest today. What fun reading the comments.

Blodeuedd, we obviously think alike as the first three books in my Magic Knot series are set in Ireland (The Magic Knot), Wales, (The Phoenix charm) and Scotland (The Ruby Kiss due out in December 10). And I have a novella set in my Magic Knot world coming out in September that is set in Iceland--so not quite Finland but a Norse country.

Rosie, I agree that Scotland is a wonderful setting. I spent a lovely vacation exploring the countryside and castles of Scotland before I wrote The Ruby Kiss.

Elizabeth, I've never visited Idaho, but mountains and lakes sound lovely. I'm looking forward to visiting the USA more in the future.

Roxy, I'm delighted that you enjoyed The Phoenix Charm. Funny you should choose Egypt. I've just written a novella called The Sons of Ra for The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance II based on Egyptian mythology, although it is set in France and England.

Thanks for stopping by to read my interview!


Curling up by the Fire said...

I would choose Croatia as not many books have their settings there. There is so much history there and with it being pretty close to Italy and Romania, the ideas just come flowing. And it's absolutely beautiful with a couple of UNESCO sites.

Martha Lawson said...

New Orleans!! I'm in love with that city even tho I've never been there!!

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Barbara E. said...

I would use a location I've always wanted to visit, such as Australia or New Zealand. Then I'd have a wonderful excuse to go on a lot of research trips to make sure my story had authentic details :o)

Anonymous said...

I'd chose New Orleans or New York, I've always wanted to go to both places.


Anonymous said...

I posted on Facebook

Anonymous said...

I tweeted the giveaway

Anonymous said...

I email you and 5 friends about the giveaway



Simply Stacie said...

I would use the Scottish Highlands!

simplystacieblog at gmail dot com

Giada M. said...

I would choose Italy, with its gorgeous countryside and little towns. (I'm Italian BTW :P) Thank you for the interesting interview! Please enter me in the contest, if it's international.

Thank you!

Giada M.

fabgiada @ gmail.com

Kimberly B. said...

Well,I do write, and so far I've found myself setting things in California, where I lived for the first 28 years of my life, and particularly on the California coast. When I can afford to travel more, however, I'd love to set some books in Greece or Turkey, so that I could visit those countries for research! Thanks for the great giveaway!

Deirdre said...

I'd set it in Galway, Ireland, where I'm from. It would also probably be set in the 90's cause that's when I was in college there.

wyvernfriend at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

My location would be Austria because I know Austria best and wouldn´t need too much research ;D
I´m lazy, I know..
But probably I would make up a different fantasy world with my own countries and cities.

Benita said...

If I were writing a book, the setting would be Italy. Who can resist reading a book that takes place in Italy? Besides, the countryside, the waters, the architecture, the food, the art...all would be of prime importance and graphically written about as an integral part of the story.


throuthehaze said...

It depends on the type of book, but most likely I would choose Scotland.
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

vvb32 reads said...

i like the book phoenix charm book trailer especially the charm overlaying the child's hand overlaying the adult hand. powerful image.

if I were to write, i'd choose california as my location. magical and mysterious things can happen in the redwoods with its old trees.
vvb32 at yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

If I was going to write a book, I would want it set in New Orleans or Scotland. I have always wanted to bo to both places, so I would enjoy any research I would have to do.

Anonymous said...

I would set my story in Indiana because it's where I'm from.


Helen Scott Taylor said...

Hi Stephanie,
Croatia is an interesting setting idea. I'm visiting Germany in a few months and I imagine it is similar as the countries are close.

Hi Martha and Christine, New Orleans is such an evocative place. I have never visited but I've read some great stories set there.

Hi Barbara E, I think the only stories I've read set in Australia or New Zeland and Harlequin Romances. I always get the feeling the country is like a wild beast that needs to be tamed.

Hi Stacie, I definitely agree with you about Scotland. I think part of the charm is the Celtic history.

Hi Giada and Benita, Italy is a place I long to set a book. I have visited a couple of times and it cries out to me to set a story there. I'm sure I will one of these days.

Hi Kimberly, I've not visited Greece or Turkey but I'd love to. One of these days...

Hi Deirdre, I've visited Ireland a couple of times--Dublin and the Wicklow mountains on one visit and County Cork the second time. I used The Wicklow Mountains as the setting for the Irish Fairy Queen's home in The Magic Knot and based it on an historic house we visited called Powerscourt. Had a fantastic time. Ireland is very like Devon where I live in England.

Hi Inara, I understand what you mean about making up your own fantasy worlds. I'm writing about my own made-up world at the moment, but I needed a starting point in a real place to base it on. I love mixing things up and using elements of lots of different cultures together.

Thank you all for stopping by to read my interview!


Van Pham said...

If i was writing a book, some locations i would chose are London, Egypt, or russia.


Persephone said...

The setting in my book/etc would most likely be my home state of Rhode Island, because I have read next nothing with RI as the main setting. And RI is a nice place. As much as certain authors proclaim there is nothing to do here (ouch, that comment hurt), I'll show them!

Next I would probably pick South Korea, because I am a big Kdrama nerd.

I tweeted

patronus89013 at yahoo dot com

Sue Brandes said...

I love anywhere in the British Isles. Just beautiful over there and the history is fastinating. Thanks for the great interview. I am looking forward to your books. I have not had the pleasure of reading one as of yet.

jellybelly82158 said...

What location would I chose?
It would more than likely be the United States.

jellybelly82158 at gmail dot com

jellybelly82158 said...

Shared on Twitter - jellybelly82158


jellybelly82158 said...

shared on facebook -


mariska said...

I'm gonna choose, Scotland, Ireland..and BALI :) those mysteries and exotic places !

i tweeted : https://twitter.com/becunique/status/12427126614

uniquas at ymail dot com

Llehn said...

Somewhere Asian and underused maybe Korea or Malaysia or Singapore.

SandyG265 said...

I'd write a story that takes place out west. Probably in New Mexico.

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Thank you to everyone who stopped by to read my interview and leave a comment. It was a pleasure being here.


Unknown said...

I'd write a story set in Paris! The city oozes athmosphere it can be goothic, romantic, menacing, modern, it has so many faces, and beautiful locations!

+1 tweeted here: http://twitter.com/Stella_ExLibris/status/12598924792

+1 also spread the word on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000899165880&v=wall&story_fbid=120098758002363&ref=mf

thank you!

stella.exlibris (at) gmail DOT com

Ina said...

Hi there!
would choose Budapest as a setting for my story :)
greetings, Ina

Anonymous said...

If I were writing a book it would be set in someplace that I knew really well, so that I would be able to really describe it. That actually only leaves southern Ohio, so I guess that's where it would be set!


Terri Dell said...

I would pick the Rocky Mountains. Cold and cozy in the winter for romance but also a great setting for a mystery

Terri Dell said...

tweet http://twitter.com/Ziggywag/status/12752914524

mrsshukra said...

It would have to be places I've visited ... I would pick Madrid or Lisbon!


clynsg said...

The location would have to correlate with the story, but I think Washington DC has a lot of possibilities.

cgclynsg0 at gmail dot com

angie said...

If I were to write a book I think my setting would have to be Hollywood. There is always so much action and gossip going on there:) And it is also close to the beach!
I tweeted http://twitter.com/bangersis/status/12768561166
Thanks for the giveaway!
email bangersis(at)msn(dot)com

jellybelly82158 said...

What location would I chose? I like the US but I also like to read about other parts of the world. I guess I would have to say Scotland or Irland.

jellybelly82158 at gmail dot com

heidi330 said...

That's easy. I'm working on a book right now and the setting is in Ireland and the other book is Scotland. I love both of these places. I have always had a connection to Ireland. I come from irish family so I'm not sure if thats why or I feel I lived there in a past life. I enjoyed both of these books. I love the fae and everything about them. thanks Helen for being here.


jeanette8042 said...

I would set the book in Italy. I love the both the history and modern aspects of Italy. Plus, it's a pretty romantic place.

lilazncutie1215 @ yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

i see lots of other women think the same , but god i love the pics of ireland and the accents on men

Spav said...

I would set it in Spain, because it's the location I know best.

Tweet: http://twitter.com/Sparima/status/12816902106