Jen: Today we welcome Helen Scott Taylor back to Book Talk. Helen, will you please share a short bio with us?
Helen: I live in Devon in South West England in a beautiful part of the English countryside. I live with my husband and two kids (although they’re not really kids any more), two Shih Tzus, and a sweet cat who was the inspiration for the cat in The Phoenix Charm.
Jen: Tell us about The Phoenix Charm and where it’s available.
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 whiskey, 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.
The Phoenix Charm is available at all good book stores—bricks & mortar, and online.
Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Helen: My son enjoys writing, but he’s never finished a book. He has so many ideas he starts a new story before he finishes the one he’s working on. He’s keen on drama and he’s starting a media, film and television course at college next year, which involves scriptwriting. I can imagine his writing taking that direction in the future. My daughter’s fiancé is in a rock band and writes songs, so I’m not sure if that counts! His group is called Icaruss. They play progressive rock and are hugely talented.
Jen: Describe your writing in three words.
Helen: Adventure-fantasy romance!
Jen: What is it about the romance genre that appeals to you?
Helen: I have to admit that I love a HEA. I hate watching films or reading books that just fizzle out or end unhappily. I love the modern romance market where so many other genres are blended with romance. There is so much choice for today’s romance reader.
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Helen: I set my Magic Knot Fairies series in places near where I live so I can visit them for research. The first in the series was set in Cornwall and Ireland, while The Phoenix Charm is set in Cornwall and Wales. My fantasy world is based on Celtic mythology and these areas are steeped in Celtic myth and legend so they provide wonderful settings. 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.
Jen: How do you pick the character’s names?
Helen: When I know the nationality of a character, I then search an Internet site for male/female names for that nationality and a name usually jumps out at me as being right. Occasionally, I know the character’s name as soon as they appear in my head.
Jen: Is there a genre that you’d like to write? Is there a genre you’ll probably stay away from and why?
Helen: I write contemporary fantasy romance, but I’d love to write high fantasy—where I can create a completely imaginary world. I have plans to write a high fantasy when I have finished the third in my current series. I will probably stay away from contemporary romance. Not because I don’t enjoy writing the genre, but I think it would be more difficult for a British writer to appeal to an American audience.
Jen: What five authors or people, from the past or present, have been important to you as an author? What question or comment have you always wanted to say to them?
- Catherine Spangler, because the first speculative romance I discovered was her novel Shielder.
- Laurel K. Hamilton because I loved her early books and they got me interested in paranormal.
- Someone called Trish Johnson who acted as my mentor when I first started writing. I don’t think she is published, but I learned heaps from her when I was a newbie.
- My two critique partners Joan Leacott and Mona Risk who have stuck with me through thick and thin, helping me to improve my stories.
Jen: If you could travel back in time for one year, what time and place would you choose? And if you could only take 3 things with you, what would they be?
Helen: Gosh, I never know how to answer questions like this. I would rather visit a fantasy world than a historical time in the real world. I have just seen the movie Avatar and I would love to visit the world of Pandora. If I were staying there, I guess I’d need a tent, sleeping bag, and insect repellent. I would normally have a book to read on my ‘must have’ list, but I think I’d be too busy sightseeing to read.
Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Helen: Jennifer Ashley read my first book The Magic Knot and called it Adventure-fantasy romance. I think that sums up my stories perfectly.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Helen: I have a novella called The Feast of Beauty in The Mammoth Book of Irish Romance due out on January 28th. I am currently writing the third in my fantasy series, The Ruby Kiss, about Nightshade, my vampiric nightstalker. The book will be out on December 28th 2010. I am also writing two novellas, one about the Magic Knot world to appear in a fantasy anthology next October and another novella for The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2. I’ve tried something different for this one and created a new world around a group of men called the Sons of Ra, based on Egyptian mythology/history. They renew themselves and the women they love with fire, while protecting themselves and the world from Set and Anubis and their evil followers. I’ve ended up trying to cram a whole long story into a novella. I think I’ll have to write some full-length novels about these guys.
Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Helen: What is your favorite type of paranormal/fantasy character? And is there any type of paranormal or fantasy creature of character you would like to see more of?
Jen: Readers, Helen is giving away a copy of The Phoenix Charm to a random commenter. To enter the contest you must first leave a question or comment for Helen. Then to complete your entry, you need to either leave your email address in your comment or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. The contest winner will be chosen on Sunday, January 24.