I’m so excited to have Helen Scott Taylor in the house today. She’s an amazing author and last year’s American Title winner with Dorchester Publishing. Her world building is great and you’re immediately pulled into Niall O’Connor and Rosenwyn Tremain’s world.
Helen it’s great to have you here. I’ve been waiting for your book to hit the shelves since the first time I read the excerpt on your website. Yes, I said first time, as I’ve re-read it several times.
Me: Needless to say, I’m already a huge fan. Can you tell us how you came up with this idea and what’s coming up next?
Helen: I initially conceived the idea for The Magic Knot to be a contemporary story of identical twin Irish brothers running a pub in Cornwall. When I changed my focus from contemporary romance to paranormal, I wanted to write something a little different from the vampire and shape-shifter stories other authors have done so well. I researched myths and folk law and decided the fairy world provided great scope to develop my own interesting characters and a world a little different to anything else that is available.
I have two male secondary characters that play sizeable roles in The Magic Knot. Michael is the hero’s brother, and Nightshade is a winged vampiric fairy who can’t decide if he is their ally or enemy. I’m hard at work on the sequel due out in December. The Phoenix Charm features Michael as the hero, and the next book I have planned is Nightshade’s story.
Me: You won the American Title with Dorchester. What was the call like? How did you celebrate?
Helen: The day after voting closed, I had an email from the Romantic Times editor who was coordinating the contest to tell me I’d won. By the final round we were down to two entries, so I knew I had a 50:50 chance of winning. But I was still disbelieving when I received the email with the good news. My family took me out for a celebratory dinner, and we had to take a photograph of us celebrating to appear in Romantic Times!
Me: With the release of The Magic Knot and working on the next book, have you found it easier or harder when you sit in front the computer? What has changed for you now that you have deadlines?
Helen: I’ve read other newly published authors say that the first book they wrote after being published was the hardest, because they have greater expectations of themselves. I’m definitely finding this is true. The first hurdle was having my second book accepted for publication, then the worry over whether it is as good as the first book. I’ve not written a sequel before, so I’m learning how to write a stand-alone book that is also a continuation from the first. I’m sure there will be new challenges at every stage in this business. All I can say is getting a book published is most certainly the beginning of the work and not the end.
Me: You run your own business, write, and have kids. What do you like to do in your spare time?
Helen: I don’t have a lot of spare time. I try to have a walk most days, but I’m a fair-weather walker and don’t go out in the cold and rain. Unfortunately, we’ve had our coldest winter for twenty years in the UK. I would like to read more but rarely get time these days. When I have to choose between reading and writing, writing usually wins.
One thing I do enjoy is visiting historic houses. The British National Trust historic houses are open from Easter to October. I like to make time to visit some every year, especially while I’m researching a book. I like to use historic houses as settings in my novels, even though my fantasy worlds are contemporary set. In The Magic Knot, I used a Palladian mansion called Powerscourt, near Enniskerry in Ireland, as the inspiration for the Irish fairy queen’s home. In The Phoenix Charm, much of the action takes place in a medieval castle situated on an island in the middle of a lake in Wales.
Me: Whose journey was harder to write, Niall’s or Rosenwvn? And can I just add I love the line Niall’s soft Irish brogue.
Helen: Niall’s was more difficult. I found him a challenging character to write, as he is so proud and private. He didn’t want anyone poking their nose in his business, not the heroine, or me! Rose was much easier as she is very down to earth and practical.
Me: Did you do your research for Ireland online or have you visited the beautiful land of green?
Helen: I took a special trip to Ireland to research The Magic Knot. My husband and I spent four days visiting the area of the Wicklow Mountains where the Irish fairy troop lives. The weather was bad most of the time. When we drove over the Wicklow Mountains, which is more rightly just an area of high moorland, all we could see was mist. We enjoyed visiting the Palladian mansion, Powerscourt. The gardens and the waterfall in the middle of the lake were beautiful.
Me: Was The Magic Knot your first book, or do you like most of us and have the manuscript graveyard with the dust bunnies?
Helen: The Magic Knot was the third book I wrote. The first was a short contemporary, which helped me learn how to write, but also taught me short contemporary was not my genre. The second ms was a paranormal romance, Passion Beyond Reason, about a parallel world inhabited by demons. This story did very well in contests, winning as many as The Magic Knot. In fact in once contest where both my paranormals finaled, Passion won and beat The Magic Knot into second place. I intend to revise that story and submit it sometime.
Me: For those of us in the pre-published stage, what advice and motivation would give us?
Helen: I don’t think there is any magic formula to getting published. Success is down to hard work and persistence. I took lots of online classes and read many craft books. My husband jokes that I must have put myself through the equivalent of a degree in creative writing. My advice is to learn the craft, write stories, enter contests, and submit your work. It might take one book, or twenty before one is accepted, but eventually it will happen if you persevere. There is an element of luck involved—your story being the right genre on the right editor’s desk at the right time. But if you write enough and send out enough that will eventually be your story.
Me: Did I say I'm so excited you're here??? Cause I am :)Thank you for sharing your a little of your world and your characters world with us. And isn't the cover amazing.
Okay, everyone, now it’s your turn. Leave your questions in the comment section and Helen will be back through out the day to answer them.