Author Interview: Helen Savore

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What do you do when you are not writing?

I’ve got a family: a husband I banter with constantly, and a little one who I’m enchanted with, seeing him learn the whole world. I’m a recovering workaholic, but I’m still a fairly obsessed engineer. I like playing European style board games. During my pregnancy I played Spirit Island daily, since you can do 1 and 2 player games. Probably my favorite right now. I used to be a bigger video game player, but that’s slacked with first work, and then the writing become more serious. Can anyone tell me if the Tales of Vesperia remake is any good?

I fold origami. I love having portable art. It’s a great stress relief to anywhere just whip out some paper and start folding. Then as a bonus I get to leave little surprises all over the place. I do cranes the most, I think I’ve hit 1000 a time or two because I’ve had some major wishes granted. I don’t always remember other forms so I enjoy relearning or researching them. I channel a bit of Bob Ross too, when I make ‘happy little accidents’ my figures then get a touch of originality. Once my first five publishing push is done I’m contemplating recording some origami adventures not only to share, but so I have a record for some of the more complex forms.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

One of the funniest piece of feedback I got was how unrealistic it was to have a cat hanging around an ATM. Now, as a reader sometimes I’m there too, and something mundane takes me out of a fantasy story, despite completely buying that dragons are flying in the skies. What made this particularly funny, is I literally witnessed it during my trip to Wales. I have a picture.

More seriously there are emotions that are replicated here, though the situations have a cast differently. But, that’s storytelling. Emotions are universal despite how fantastic or mundane the situations are. Is a dream imagination or experience? Some of the ideas do come from especially vivid dreams. When I wake up, I both need to capture the images and then make sense of them. This often leads to story premises. Also, not so much in The Phoenix Grail, but some of my gaming is translating into the later novels.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

Sure. The Phoenix Grail kicks off a series that is a Contemporary Continuation of King Arthur’s Court. Alexandrea is a descendant of Bedivere, one of the few survivors of the Massacre of Camlann. She’s working with Merlin’s last apprentice, Moralynn, attempting to summon the Phoenix to stop the deaths that the fae are causing on earth. Right at the moment she realizes she will be Moralynn’s last apprentice and must find the grail immediately, she discovers her childhood friend can see the fae too. Though the pressure is now on, she isn’t quite ready to share the burden, and questions the path she should follow for the greater good.

In addition to extending the Arthurian legend, the story elevates Oberon to a godlike creator, Titania to Fate, and the Phoenix channeling human life into a cycle of reincarnation. The story gives readers the chance to explore the hero’s experience from three different perspectives: the newly awakened, the destined, and the failed.

Do you work with an outline, or just write?

I like to think of myself as a Literary Engineer, I work better with an outline. I have tried both planning and pansting, because experimentation is needed to figure out what works best for you. I’ve grabbed a lot of good questions from various resources to both spec out the over arching drive of the book, its characters, and a scene planning sheet. Once I start working on a chapter I have a “draft zero” where I write only dialog or major movement if it’s a fight scene. Speaking of, I’ve finally come to accept my best fight scenes are those I put in a greater amount of planning, choreographing through doodling, and making a beat sheet from each fighter’s perspective. During development editing I’ll also do some writing exercises on heightening emotions at certain points, and revisiting character motivations and their arc, now that I know them better.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I’m not sure, since sex (or more rightly gender) isn’t binary. It’s not only what I believe, but pertinent to the series. In The Sword in the Throne, book two of The Phoenix Succession, we dive deeper into fae society and our human characters realize the fae are generally nonbinary. This has been one of my biggest struggle with the series is how to address peoples across the gender spectrum. Also balancing how each character might perceive this differently but not confusing the reader.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Awake by Jessica Grey. It’s a fun take on the Sleeping Beauty story, not just connecting it into the modern day, but giving it a weight and heft I’m desperately looking for in the tales I was told in my youth.  We get both the mix of bringing fairy world intruding in modern life, and modern life overwhelming the fairy tales. It walks that line well. I can see this story really unfolding, so when the most fantastic parts come out, there is no incredulity, it’s just fear for the characters to survive this.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I am the god of my worlds so I’ve designed a place that you can tell a lot of different stories, with differing degrees of connectivity. Tales of the Faerie Forge includes trilogies like The Phoenix Succession, and stand alone Chronicles featuring either a solo character or a single pivotal moment in history, like how Lady of the Lake forged Excalibur. The series planned after Phoenix Succession – Rounding the Table – is going to be a bit looser, traveling all over the globe and the fae realms to bring together the modern knights of the round table. Since the ordering of the series and chronicles aren’t entirely chronological, I have a collection of “afterwards.” These are kind of like end credit beats, but are  meant to be relevant if you’ve read particular pairings of books.


You can also follow her on Twitter @ImaPaperNinja.


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