by Trish Milburn
For several months beginning in August 2007, Helen Scott Taylor and I were two of the 10 finalists in the American Title contest sponsored by Romantic Times BOOKclub magazine and Dorchester Publishing. The prize for the winner? A publishing contract with Dorchester for the winning book. American Title works a lot like American Idol. There were five rounds of online voting, and each round had us putting up some other portion of our book -- first line, descriptions of the hero and heroine, first love scene, etc. Helen and I made it all the way down to the final two, and when the final votes were counted, Helen was declared the winner.
And that's as it should be. See, after the contest started, I sold my first book, a YA novel that will hit shelves this April. But since I was still unsold as of the contest deadline, everyone said I was eligible to stay in the American Title contest. So, at the urging of several fellow writers, I did so. But the final placements allowed Helen the awesome opportunity to have her first novel, The Magic Knot, published. And hopefully I benefitted with a bit of publicity for the novel I'd already sold.
At the time, Helen and I hadn't met in person. But we finally did at the Romantic Times conference last April, then again at the Romance Writers of America Conference in July. We both even ended up on the same city tour of San Francisco prior to the RWA conference, unknown to either of us until we bumped into each other on the ferry. I've discovered over the past year and a half that Helen is a pretty cool gal. So I'm thrilled to host her here in the Lair today.
Q. Your book, The Magic Knot, comes out today. Were you able to sleep at all last night?
A. A friend e-mailed me last week and told me The Magic Knot was already available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. So I’ve had a few days to get used to the idea that it is finally on sale. But even so, the official release date is exciting. I hope it will be on bookshelves now. Although as I live in the UK, I won’t get to check out the high street booksellers. So if anyone sees it on sale in Borders, I’d love to know. Or better still, I’d love a photograph of my book on the shelf.
Q. Tell us a little about The Magic Knot. Was this your first manuscript? How did this story come about?
A. The Magic Knot actually started life in my head as a short contemporary story about Irish identical twin brothers who ran a pub in Cornwall. That is the only part of the original premise that survived. Somewhere during my pondering over the story, the Irish brothers became fairies, I threw in an evil druid and a fire-wielding Irish fairy queen, and my Magic Knot paranormal world was born. This is the third manuscript I wrote. The first was a short contemporary, and the second was a paranormal about a parallel world inhabited by Demons that I’m still hoping to sell once I’ve revised it again.
Here's the back cover copy for the book:
HE’S A BIKER WITH AN ATTITUDE
What woman wouldn’t be attracted to Niall O’Connor’s soft Irish brogue and dark good looks? But Rosenwyn Tremain must find her father, and she isn’t going to let a sexy, stubborn Irishman and his motorcycle distract her. Rose’s intuition tells her he’s hiding something, a secret even the cards cannot divine. Her tarot deck always reads true, but how can one man represent both Justice and Betrayal?
SHE’S A WOMAN ON A MISSION
Magic. Niall’s body tingles with it when he finds the woman snooping in his room. Rosenwyn might believe she’s a no-nonsense accountant, but her essence whispers to him of ancient fairy magic that enslaves even as it seduces. Her heritage could endanger those he’d die to protect, but her powers and her passion, if properly awakened, might be the only thing that can save both their families, vanquish a fairy queen bent on revenge, and fulfill a prophecy that will bind their hearts together with…THE MAGIC KNOT
Q. The Magic Knot was the winner of the American Title contest sponsored by Dorchester Publishing and Romantic Times. What was it like to go through all those rounds of the contest? And how did you react when you found out you'd won?
A. Taking part in the American Title contest was a fantastic experience. I’m so grateful to Romantic Times and Dorchester for running the contest and giving me a chance to have my book published. As you were with me competing for the winner's tiara right to the final round, I don’t need to tell you it was hard work and stressful taking part—but a lot of fun as well. I made so many new writing contacts and friends through the contest. I didn’t get much writing done while I was taking part as a lot of my time and mental energy went into promotion. But that was wonderful practice for all the promotion I’ve done running up to the release of The Magic Knot. I was amazed when I won. I was delighted to be selected as a finalist, but I thought I’d be knocked out in the early rounds as Romantic Times is not on sale in the UK and I assumed that would be a disadvantage. It was only when I reached the penultimate round that I thought I maybe had a shot at winning. Looking back on the experience now, it feels surreal, especially when I remember going up on stage in Pittsburgh at the Romantic Times convention to accept my prize.
Q. I noticed on your Web site that you've gotten some very nice reviews for The Magic Knot? Were you nervous to read the reviews as they came in? Do you remember who gave the book its first review?
A. I was jittery waiting for the first reviews of The Magic Knot to come in. The first review was from Manic Readers. I found out about the first review when a MySpace friend contacted me and congratulated me on the good review. So far all the reviews have been good, some great. I’m fairly thick skinned, but I’m not sure how I’d have felt if the reviews were bad. I’m delighted (and relieved) that everyone who has read the book so far has liked it. I have relaxed about the reviews now that I have a number of good ones. I keep telling myself you can’t please everyone so not to expect all the reviews to be perfect.
Q. What are you working on now?
A. I’ve written the first draft of a sequel to The Magic Knot featuring Michael, the Magic Knot hero’s brother. Currently, I’m revising and editing. Michael was a tough hero to write as he is a bit of a rascal. But he turned out to be remarkable and to have much more depth to him than I had suspected when I wrote The Magic Knot. Right up until I wrote his final showdown with the powerful villain in the sequel, I wasn’t sure how Michael would win out, but he triumphed in his own inimitable way.
Q. When you have free time, what do you like to do?
A. Between running my own business, writing, and kids, I don’t have much free time. I do try to make time for a walk every day, but I’m a fair weather walker so I’m afraid the cold and wet puts me off. I love reading but don’t get much time to read these days. When I go on vacation or have time off over Christmas or Easter, I read as much as possible.
Thanks so much for being with us today, Helen. And here's to oodles of sales for The Magic Knot.
One lucky commenter will win her very own copy of The Magic Knot, so be sure to ask Helen any additional questions you have.
If you'd like to read the first two chapters of The Magic Knot, visit Helen's Web site at http://www.helenscotttaylor.com/.
And don't forget that the Bandita Invasion of RNTV continues all week. Stop by today to enjoy more Bandita vignettes of the photo entitled GIRL IN A CAGE. Try your hand at finishing the stories! That's http://wwww.romancenovel.tv/wordpress/rntv/marias-blog/