Monday, April 16, 2007

Party Post 5

Helen Kirkman always enjoyed dreaming up adventure stories. Her love affair with history began when, as a schoolgirl, she stood on the mysterious grassy remains of an Anglo Saxon hill fort and dreamed of what might have been. Helen now writes for Harlequin's mainstream romance imprint, HQN Books.

What takes you into a story?

“…the long narrow pool mirrored the ripe moon, and through the open side windows Rebecca detected the scent of orange blossom and a whiff of jasmine on the night air.”

I call that “the magic step”.

It’s “almost summer” in Tessa’s “Black Widow Bride” and with a single sentence, I’m standing with Rebecca at the window and Damon is about to appear in the darkness.

My favourite gift from a book is being transported into another world. What takes you there? A short description? Something a character says?

Speaking of stories and gifts, I have a book to give away! “Pride & Passions” is a luxury Quills Aussie/NZ double edition which includes a fabulous, adventurous regency by Gail Ranstrom, teamed with my “Warriors of the Dragon Banner” story “Fearless” - in which a reckless woman tries to seduce a man to her will.

Imagine a summer in England long ago, with the east wind bringing the clear tang of the sea. Lady Judith, brave enough to fight Vikings, goes to meet Einhard, suspected pirate, owner of longships, a desperate man searching for his son. Their quests clash and then intertwine, demanding a sacrifice from each.

When my “Warriors of the Dragon Banner” lived, people had lots of poetic names for the sea: “the swan road”, “the whale’s pasture”. A sword might be a “snake blade” or a “battle flame”. Einhard’s longship was a “slipway wolf”.

They loved playing with words, joking the way we do and making up riddles.

Try this one: “On the way, a wonder, water became bone.” Think about the change of seasons.

Tell me what takes you into the story world, or try solving the riddle and I’ll draw the winners name from those who reply and send a copy of “Pride & Passions”. I love the duo edition cover, although it’s a different style from my North American covers for “Fearless” and “Untamed”.


Check out the “Warriors of the Dragon Banner” www.helenkirkman.com

Tessa says: Winners announced in 24 hours time. More than one giveaway is running, scroll down to find more!


Blogger robynl said...

it could be a dramatic happening such as a shooting or an accident or it could be as simple as an eloquent description of a certain place.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

The characters and how they feel brings me into a story. I imagine what it must be like to be them!

3:56 PM  
Blogger ellie said...

The answer to the riddle is ice. An old Anglo Saxon riddle. Love your beautiful blog and website. Congrats.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Tammy said...

Hi Helen!! Nice to "see" you here! My guess is....ice


I loved Untamed...nice 52 inch chest I think we decided at the eHar party!!


5:35 PM  
Blogger traveler said...

What captures my attention and interest in a novel is a vivid description of the setting as well as an in depth portrayal of the characters involved. I become lost and enthralled totally within the pages.

5:37 PM  
Blogger principessa said...

A locale which is brought alive through the individuals who live there.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Cherie J said...

For me the book is all about it's characters. If I can't relate to a character at all or a character has too many flaws it will cause me to lose interest in the book.

6:00 PM  
Blogger Karen G said...

A setting I can picture and want to visit will take me into the story.

6:11 PM  
Blogger misty wright said...

It is the writers voice and the emotion that takes me into a story. I need to have that connect before I can really get into character. Tessa does this wonderfully with Her first book!!! :D


6:24 PM  
Blogger Karina Bliss said...

Great riddle, Helen, post a few more.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Helen Kirkman said...

You guys are too smart :-). The answer to the riddle is ICE.

Interesting comments! Yes, I'd agree it's a combination of factors that pulls me into a story...vivid setting and characters.

I love seeing a setting through the character's eyes.

The sense of immediacy is one of the reasons I love Tessa's story.

And hi Tammy!! Yes, I've been so lucky with my covers. Especially the 52 inch chest on Untamed.

Catch you all again soon


7:19 PM  
Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Helen, I love the feeling that I'm entering a whole world. You know, the characters have texture, the settings have texture, the dialogue has texture. The world of the book has a reality as strong as the reality of my own life when it's done really well.

9:04 PM  
Blogger Helen Kirkman said...

Anna - I love that description of "having texture". The very best thing is when the book world is as strong as the real world.

I think the key is seeing through the character's eyes. That makes me think of the heroines showing me a complete world in Mary Stewart's books, or the heroine of Daphne Du Maurier's "Rebecca" who doesn't even have a name but creates such a compelling world you feel you really *are* that woman.

Anyone else got a favourite character world?

Oh, and Karina wanted another riddle? Maybe in my next post :-)


9:29 PM  
Blogger Helen Kirkman said...

OK, try this riddle:

This creature devours words. When I heard of that wonder it struck me as strange that a small creature should swallow the utterance of some man, a thief gorge in the darkness on a great man's speech of distinction. The thievish stranger was not at all the wiser because he gulped down those words.

We've got one knowledgeable Anglo Saxon riddle enthusiast in Ellie. Anyone else happy to give it a go?

Thanks for your positive comments on the website, Ellie :-) It's great you enjoy Saxon and Viking things. It's such an exciting world to share!


10:01 PM  
Blogger LadyVampire said...

What brings me into a story? Everything. Books are trips to exotic new places or twists on the normal. Bringing an exciting adventure or a romantic encounter to someone without them even stepping a foot out the door. I am drawn to the characters that seem almost alive, and to the far off or imaginary lands that I've never visited before. I enjoy the thrill of adventures I probably will never go on in my lifetime, and the the simple way a book can take me away from reality, putting all my worries and troubles on hold for a time. I am caught up in the magical way a author weaves her words and make me a part of the story.
As for the second riddle. I think the answer is a moth.

11:51 PM  
Blogger Helenk said...

helen, i love stories. all sorts of stories. and from each genre, i think i am looking for something a little different. But the two things that give a book a special something are -- characters and setting. Nothing beats a vividly crafted world with fantastic characters.

1:52 AM  
Blogger Annie West said...


I love a book that drags me into a real world - somewhere vibrant and believable. For instance, have you written any of Lindsey Davis' Falco books? The place just FEELS like ancient Rome and the characters are so real and three dimensional. One of the best things in the world is when I pick up a book (particularly a romance) and am dragged instantly into another reality - mainly because the characters are so strongly painted!

By the way, I wanted to say how much I enjoy your covers. That was what made me pick up one of your books the first time - and I'm so glad I did!


2:19 AM  
Blogger Helen Kirkman said...

Yes, vivid settings and strong characters and Ladyvampire's adventures!

And thanks so much for your comments on my covers, Annie. I've been lucky there, and I love them not only for the obvious reasons :-) but for the feeling of strength and drama that goes with them - all the qualities I love weaving into stories.

My mother is the Lindsay Davis fan. She has all the Falco books (some of them presents from dutiful daughter!!). I've dipped into the Falco stories and I totally agree about feeling yourself in Rome and having that magic feeling of being in a different world, but sharing it with people you relate to and care about.

That's the best kind of reading experience! I love hearing how others feel about story magic.


2:33 AM  
Blogger Maureen said...

Hi Helen!

My guess is that your riddle is about water turning to ice in winter. It's the author's descriptions of the little details that brings me into a story.

2:59 AM  
Blogger KimW said...

A summer in England..I want to go!

Usually it's the dialog between the main character that gets me into the story. If I like them, I generally love the book.

4:01 AM  
Blogger CrystalG said...

An opening that is suspenseful or the characters have good interaction is what draws me in.

5:04 AM  
Blogger Tammy said...

Hi again Helen, for your second riddle, my guess is bookworm.

6:59 AM  
Blogger Tessa Radley said...

Helen, what a wonderful discussion. I'm so enjoying the posts and thank you for the lovely compliments.

I love rich writing too, that sense of place, of slipping into a different world. I'm reading UNTAMED at the moment, and loving it.


5:11 PM  
Blogger Helen Kirkman said...

Kimw - I used to make the old joke about English summers being "one fine day", but the last two times I've been there, it has been so *hot*. Much warmer and finer than I remember from childhood (I'm sure it's supposed to be the other way round!!)

As for stories, it's fascinating how the importance of character keeps coming up - hearing their dialogue, seeing the setting through their eyes. Thanks for your comments.

You're all too good at riddling. Ice is the answer to my main question. The answer to the second in my comments is *us* :-) ie a bookworm!

You guys would have won the riddling contest against Gollum in Tolkein's "The Hobbit". (Tolkein based this scene on Anglo Saxon riddling games). I do mention riddles in my next book "Captured" coming out in August, but that's another story and the riddles the hero is familiar with are of a less exalted kind - he's very aware of his rough background.

And thanks Tessa, for the comment on "Untamed". Hey, speaking of heroes, I love the man on your next cover!!!


12:39 AM  

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