Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Celtic Fairytales

Today we welcome Helen Scott Taylor, who is visiting to talk about Celtic fairy tales and give away a copy of her latest release, The Phoenix Charm. Check out the excerpt at www. helenscotttaylor.com.

As I live in the UK, I naturally explored the local Celtic myths when I conceived my fantasy world for The Magic Knot fairies. I live in Devon, in the English West country. A short distance away is the county of Cornwall, an area with strong Celtic legends. The rolling countryside with its wooded valleys and mysterious lanes, its ancient houses and churches, and its megaliths and rugged coastline inspired me to base my fairy world there.

In each of the books in the series, I take my characters to a different place. In The Magic Knot, the characters go to Ireland. I had a wonderful time visiting Dublin and the Wicklow Mountains for research. In The Phoenix Charm, I send my characters to Wales to face the Welsh Fairy King, who is also King of the Underworld. In the third book (due out at the end of 2010), my hero ends up in Scotland trying to survive the machinations of the Unseelie and Seelie Scottish Fairy Courts. I visited Scotland in summer 2009 for research, and had a fantastic time exploring the countryside and visiting as many castles as I could cram into two weeks.

I wanted my fairy characters to be human sized, so I tweaked the existing mythology and made my Cornish piskies tall rather than small. (These are what we call pixies in most of England, but in Cornwall, they are called piskies.) The heroes of both the first two books in the series are Irish. I love the Irish accent. Combine that with dark hair and blue eyes and my sexy identical twin heroes sprang to life in my mind. The Irish Tuatha Dè Danaan are a noble race of fairies, supposedly descended from Greek gods, so they were ideal for my story. Just to mix things up a little, I gave my heroes some leprechaun blood as well. The hero of The Magic Knot has the leprechaun touch of luck, while Michael, the hero of The Phoenix Charm, inherited his powers from his father. I won't give away what his powers are as they are fundamental to the plot. (The title gives you a clue.)

Celtic mythology has provided the starting point for my fairy world, but I like to give the old myths a new spin and also introduce some ideas that are just my own. The character of Nightshade sprang from my imagination. He is a black vampiric fairy with wings and silver eyes. He is a major secondary character in the first two books of the series, and his own book, The Ruby Kiss, will be out at the end of 2010.

I've also included some Norse Mythology in my fairy world, although that only comes in to the later stories. A novella called The Frost Fairy set in the Magic Knot Fairy world, due out at the end of September 2010, is actually set in the Norse gods' kingdom of Asgard.

I really wanted to include a dragon in The Phoenix Charm as much of the action is set in Wales and a red dragon is pictured on the Welsh flag. Although the dragon is mentioned, I didn't manage to include it in the story until the third book.

I think the Tuatha Dè Danaan are my favorite mythological race. What is your favorite type of mythological character? One lucky commenter wins a copy of The Phoenix Charm.


Blodeuedd said...

I love Celtic mythology, I think the name says it all :)
If I can pick some Welsh gods as the fav then i take them. I always did like Annwyn, the otherworld.

CrystalGB said...

Hi Helen My answer would be a fairy or a unicorn.

Rosie said...

I think I would be a fairy, so dainty and delicate. Thanks for stopping by and telling us about your books. I'm anxious to start this series.


Helen Scott Taylor said...

Hi Blodeuedd,
You're right, the Welsh gods and godesses are interesting. There are heaps of myths about them but there aren't nearly as many stories written about them as about the Irish and Scottish fairies.

Hi CrystalGB,
Unicorns fascinate me as well. I haven't read many books featuring Unicorns. I'll have to look out for some.

Hi Rosie,
There are so many types of fairies they are a wonderful source of material for writers. The fairy world includes everything imaginable, including vampires and shape shifters.


robinky42 said...

I would pick a fairy. I have read your first book and enjoyed it very much.

Jackie (Literary Escapism) said...

I've been hearing such great things about this series, I would love a chance to win.

I think, my favorite mythological creature would have to be the basic witch. I'm not really sure if this counts as mythological or not, there's usually some form of witch in most Fairy Tales and I generally love those characters. They are either good, evil or really don't give a damn. Seems like a good way to be.

Armenia said...

Hi Helen, I have to agree with you on the Tuatha De Danaan. I was first introduced to the mythological race with KMM's Highlander series. I was both intrigued and mesmerized by the power and wit they possessed.

I would love to find out more of the dragon in your story. It sounds pretty interesting.

donnas said...

I love all types of mythology. But right now my favorites are the fae.

stacey said...

My Fav is The Dragon.Your books look like agreat read.looking forward to buy them some day soon.
Happy New Years!!

Ada said...

Hi Helene…thanx 4 the gr8 blog. Luv ur series! I 1st heard…by my older sis who begged & pleaded me 2 read…about the mythological race of the ‘Tuatha De Danaan’ while reading KMM’s Highlander series. What a fascinating race! Espec that oh so dark, dangerous & sinfully delich Fae, Adam Black. My fav type of mythological character would have 2 b the Fae…luv 2 play naughty w/ them. Think of all the fun I would have! *wicked smile*

All the best 4 the New Yr. Good Luck every1!

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Hi RobinKy42,
I'm glad you enjoyed The Magic Knot. I love fairies as you can tell!

Hi Jackie,
You're right that witches are versatile characters. And a version of the witch appears in most mythologies. The heroine in The Phoenix Charm is a fairy witch, and she has a cat familiar.

Hi Armenia,
The dragon in my series belongs to a villian, so it creates havoc, but not until the third book, The Ruby Kiss.

Hi Donnas,
Fae are definitely popular at the moment. When I wrote The Magic Knot in 2006 there weren't many fae romances around. But the last few years have seen many hit the shelves.

Hi Stacey,
I think dragon shapeshifters sound fun. I haven't read any books about them yet, but I know there are a few around.

Hi Ada,
The Tuatha De Danaan are a writer's gift really. The tick all the boxes for romance, magic and danger. Fun to play with!


Daelith said...

I've not heard of this series so I'm glad I dropped in today and saw this. I will be adding them to my wish list.

I'm definitely a dragon lover. Been hooked on them since reading Anne McCaffrey when I was 13.
Unicorns and Pegasus come in a close second.

Thank you!