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Helen Scott Taylor and The Phoenix Charm

We’ve got Helen Scott Taylor  in the house today. Woot!!! I’m really excited to have her with us and I’m going to be giving away a copy of  The Phoenix Charm, which you can read the excerpt by clicking on the name.

The Magic Knot was amazing, so waiting for The Phoenix Charm to release seemed like forever. The cover art is awesome and this is one story no one will want to put down.  

Okay, if you’re ready, here goes. We’ll start with some craft type of questions:

Vicki: How did you get started writing and have you always written paranormal?

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.

I started writing in 2003. I took many writing classes and read a lot of writing craft books. The Internet is wonderful for giving access to online writing classes run by RWA chapters. The first book I wrote was a short contemporary, which I sent to Mills & Boon. My characters were too unconventional for contemporary romance, so I tried my hand at paranormal. My first paranormal romance did well in contests, but it was my second paranormal romance, The Magic Knot that brought me success when in 2008 it won the American Title IV contest run by Dorchester Publishing and RT Bookreviews Magazine.

The Phoenix Charm, the second in the series, has just been released and the third, The Ruby Kiss, is due out in December 2010.

Vicki: Do you write on a schedule: as in everyday, morning or night, for a certain length of time, or when the muse is talking?   

Helen: I tend to wake late and get mundane things done in the morning and work in my business in the afternoon. Then in the evening, I write. When I’m writing a first draft I have a weekly word count I aim to achieve, but I don’t beat myself up if I don’t reach the word count. Sometimes I need to stop for a day’s thinking time, especially if the story changes direction or isn’t working out as I hoped.

Vicki: During your first draft, are you more character driven or plot driven?

Helen: I work by getting to know my characters and then following them as they live their story—so character driven—usually. There are always exceptions of course. The novella I’m currently writing has proven to be an exception. I have had to rethink the characters to fit the type of plot I wanted. I’ve ended up with a hero who is different to any I’ve had before.

Vicki: Over all, are you a plotter or a pantser?

Helen: Total pantser. When I start a story, I only have a vague idea where the plot will go. I do make sure I know my characters, though. I like to know what is important to them and what their internal conflicts are.

Vicki: I’m totally with you. So, you’re not only an amazing writer, a wife, and mom, but you also have a company you run with your husband (which from your bio is a story in itself). How do you manage to do it all?

Helen: Some days I wonder. Especially when the business is going through a tough patch as it has been recently with the recession and other troublesome issues. I find when I have mundane problems they can clog up my creative process and make it more difficult to get into the writing zone to create my stories. But I have found if I push myself to get the story written I can do it, even when life is busy.

Vicki: When you wrote the first book, The Magic Knot, did you know it would be a series?

Helen: I wrote The Magic Knot as a standalone, but in the back of my mind, I knew I could take some of the secondary characters and give them their own stories if the opportunity arose. I find it amazing how I wrote things into The Magic Knot that are now coming to fruition in the following books. I had no idea that I was creating those opportunities for myself in the first book.

Vicki: Do you know how many books will be in the series?

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 in a couple of weeks and another novella due out in October 2010.

Vicki:  What’s your favorite part of the job?

Helen: Creating the fantasy world! I adore researching the fairies, mythology, folk law, settings and having the world form and evolve in my mind. The next series I’m planning will be high fantasy where I create a complete world unconnected to our world. The lure of this world is already overtaking my brain.

Vicki: With the release of The Magic Knot and now The Phoenix Charm, have you found it easier or harder when you sit in front of the computer? What has changed for you now that you are under actual deadlines from an editor?

Helen: I like deadlines. They help me to focus and be productive. I did find it very tough writing the second book, though, as people had expectations of me and the book. When I was unpublished, the only expectations were my own.

Vicki: Can you tell us a little about The Phoenix Charm and about your story in The Mammoth Book of Irish Romance?

Helen: 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.

I have a novella linked to my Magic Knot Fairy world called The Feast of Beauty in The Mammoth Book of Irish Romance coming out in late January. This story is about the people of Lir the Irish Sea god 

This is a short blurb for The Feast of Beauty:

Kate’s grandmother’s dying wish is that she should return her pearl pendant to the tiny fishing village in Ireland where she was born. At the village’s Midsummer Feast of Beauty, the unearthly silver hair and emerald eyes of Esras, the wealthy local landowner, mesmerize Kate. But how can she trust her heart to a man who claims to be a sea fairy king?  

Vicki: Both sound absolutely fabulous!! Whose journey was it harder to write, Michael’s or Cordelia’s? And I can just say here you write yummy heroes!! 

Helen: I struggled with Michael in the early stages of conceiving The Phoenix Charm because he was such a rascal in the first book, I wasn’t sure how to reform him and make him heroic. In the end, I thought of him rather like a reformed Regency rake—so often seen in Regency romance—and then I had no trouble. Michael changed so much during The Phoenix Charm he amazed me. There is a scene near the end of the book where he has to face a villain who is much stronger than he is. I had no idea how Michael would overcome him, but he managed to come out on top in his own inimitable fashion.

Vicki: If you weren’t an author, and could be anything you wanted to be, what would it be and why?

Helen: I had dreams of becoming a veterinarian when I was younger as I’ve always loved animals. I used to help in my local vet’s surgery during summer vacation when I was a teenager.

Vicki: Now for a few fun questions, are you a strappy heels or flat sandals kind of girl?

Helen: Flats. I do occasionally wear heels but only low ones.

Vicki: Favorite hero you like to read – Hunky sexy hero or Nerdy, but still sexy hero?

Helen: Gosh! This is impossible to answer. I enjoy every type of hero from the Harlequin Presents alpha-male businessmen, to the charming playboy type like Michael, to the nerdy type like Daniel in Stargate. I am writing a Norse god hero at the moment who’s unlike any hero I’ve written before. He’s a warrior god, shaggy haired, given to action rather than words. I’m still finding my way with him, but he’s growing on me. Then again, I also adore my character Troy who is beautiful with long blond hair and a penchant for bright colors and lace—although he’s lethal. I think I like variety LOL.

Vicki: Ooh, Troy sounds enchanting!! Favorite word?

Helen:  Chocolate. (Can you tell I’m on a diet?)

Vicki: Least favorite word?

Helen: As and it. I always have to cut them from my writing.

Vicki: What’s your favorite romance book of all time?

Helen: I’m not sure it is my favorite of all time, but it is certainly one of my favorites: Golden Paradise by Susan Johnson. I loved the characters and the setting.  

Vicki: Any advice for those of us who are aspiring writers and parting words for our readers?

Helen: For writers working toward publication my advice is simply never give up. I’ve read statistics claiming there are thousands of aspiring authors who never make it to every one who does. But I’m sure many fail because they give up. This is equally true for anything we want to achieve in life.

Vicki: Helen it was a blast having you here.

Okay everyone, it’s your turn. Any questions for Helen? Leave your comments and/or questions to be included in the drawing for a copy of The Phoenix Charm.

Hugs,

Vicki

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21 Responses

  1. What a great interview. I have not heard of this series but I am definitely going to have to pick it up.

  2. Heather – you will love it!! Helen should be on in a little while to say hi (time difference from her part of the pond). 🙂

  3. I am heading to B&N at lunch I’m going to have to look for the 1st one The Magic Knot and pick it up today.

  4. Yay! I can’t wait to hear what you think about it. I was hooked from the very beginning.

  5. Enjoyed the interview, nice having you here!

  6. Sounds like a great series! I enjoy reading Celtic stories.

  7. Vicki, Thank you so much for having me as a guest today!

    Heather, I’m delighted you like the sound of my series. I hope you can still find The Magic Knot in B&N.

    Teresa W, I’m glad you enjoyed the interview!

    Chey, Celtic seems to be a popular mythology for paranormal stories. Probably because there is so much wonderful source material to work with.

    Helen

  8. Helen,

    no I wasn’t able to find The Magic Knot at B&N. I will have to look at half.com and paperbackswap, along with Amazon to try and find it.

    However, I did go ahead and purchase The Phoenix Charm.

  9. Hi Heather,

    Well at least B&N had The Phoenix Charm. B&N do have The Magic Knot in their online store. It’s on Amazon of course.

    Hope you enjoy the books!

    Helen

  10. Hi Helen,

    I’ve heard so much about your new book The Phoenix Charm and it sounds like an amazing read.

    I enjoyed the interview and the book trailer was great.

    Took a little tour on your web and had some fun with your quiz on which Earth Element I am.
    Turns out I’m Air.

    Congratulations on your release!!

    armiefox at yahoo dot com

  11. hi, Helen! Welcome to the blog. Your books always sound so fascinating! I know someone will be lucky in winning a copy!

  12. Hi Armenia,

    Thank you for the congratulations. Glad you enjoyed my website. I’m Air as well. Definitely right for me with my head in the clouds.

    Helen

  13. Hi Keri,

    Thank you for the warm welcome. It’s great to be here!

    Helen

  14. Loved the interview, Ladies! Great to have you with us today, Helen!! 🙂

  15. Fantastic interview! The Phoenix Charm sounds great and I love the cover!

  16. What a great interview. I enjoyed learning more about Helen. The Phoenix Charm sound real interesting to me.

  17. The Magic Knot was awesome. I finally got the chance to pick it up as a birthday gift to myself in September. Now I can’t wait for the others

  18. What’s your favorite favorite scene(s) on this book ?

    would love to have the chance to read your book : )

  19. Helen these books sound brilliant – being married to a half_irishman I should read more Irish based stories lol.

    If one of your books could be made into a movie which one would it be and who would play the main characters? xx

  20. Hey everyone. Sorry I wasn’t around much after the morning. The day job was a bear today and I couldn’t get back to where I wanted to be.

    Helen, as always it’s so much fun to have you. You already know I love your writing and your characters.

    Now for the winner of The Phoenix Charm…Armenia!!!

    Email me at vickilanewrites @ yahoo.com with your snail mail addy and please put winner – The Phoenix Charm in the subject.

    Major congrats and I know you’re going to love it!!!

  21. Thank you Helen Scott Taylor and Vicki !!! I am so looking forward to reading The Phoenix Charm.

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