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.