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July 24, 2013

Blood Destiny 101 with Helen Harper

I stumbled upon Helen Harper's BLOOD DESTINY series one day while perusing Amazon for great deals. The cover arts for the books are simply gorgeous and the blurb piqued my interest. It was love at first sight for me and I know I have to do a feature for her. BLOOD DESTINY is an Urban Fantasy series that I'm sure a lot of you will positively respond to. So without further ado, here's the 101.



BRAINE: Hi Helen! Thanks for stopping by Talk Supe to talk about your series, BLOOD DESTINY. Can you tell us what the series premise is?

HELEN HARPER: Thanks for having me! 

The BLOOD DESTINY series centres around a young woman named Mack. Her mother abandoned her with a pack of shifters when she was just a child. However, because she’s not a shapeshifter herself, she’s always felt as if she’s somehow on the periphery of that society. Some of the pack members are her friends while others hate her for her humanity and see her as weak. That’s despite the fact that she’s better than all of them in a fight. Her very bad temper lands her in a lot of trouble as well. She’s a very strong and independent woman and hates being perceived as anything less, so when she comes up against Lord Corrigan, who is essentially the head of all the United Kingdom’s shapeshifters, she doesn’t know how to cope.


And yet, as the books unfold, we find out more and more about her heritage, and the fact that she’s not as human as she thinks…


BRAINE: What kinds of preternatural creatures are we going to meet in BLOOD DESTINY?

HELEN HARPER: There are all sorts! Obviously shapeshifters feature quite majorly, along with mages and the occasional vampire and faerie as the books progress. There is even a dragon! The most interesting preternatural characters are, I think, the ones who Mackenzie ends up clashing against. Every creature included is already part of some folklore somewhere around the world. I like to think that if they exist in stories that have been passed down from generation to generation, then they might just exist in real life too.


BRAINE: Can you tell us a little bit about the setting? I saw Scotland in one of the blurbs and that's an instant book turn on for me. Men in kilts?! Yowza!

HELEN HARPER: All the books are set in the United Kingdom, ranging from deep within the city of London to much more rural settings in Cornwall, Scotland, and near Wales. I have tried to stick as closely as possible to the real places, using sites that already exist and that already have some measure of folklore attached to them. As an example, the second book, Bloodmagic, takes place in Inverness in Scotland, and some important scenes centre around an ancient burial ground known as the Clava Cairns. Those cairns really exist! The more I could make use of 'real' elements such as those, the more real the books seem to me as I write. It helps to be fully immersed in my own world. 

One of my favourite lines when I started the first book was something I pulled off the internet about the Beast of Bodmin Moor. There really were stories about a large predatory animal stalking around that area - and the army really was called in to deal with it. A general genuinely did comment on the beast's 'almost human intelligence'. That was just too good not to use in the book!


BRAINE: You mentioned all all sorts of supernatural beings will be featured in the series, how are your creatures and myth different from the archetypes? 

HELEN HARPER: Probably in the way that they interact with each other and the relationships that they form. A lot of the creatures start out as fairly stereotypical examples. But when we find out more about them, we realise there’s a lot more to them; I haven’t tried to change the archetypes in any way – just instead to dig a bit deeper beyond the surface. I think that’s true of us in real life also. We tend to look at what’s on the surface rather than what is really underneath.


BRAINE: Can you tell us a little something about your heroine, Mack?

HELEN HARPER: She has bright red hair that she’s secretly very proud of, but that hints at her true heritage and her personality. She’s a massively loyal friend, and is desperate to belong somewhere, but she definitely doesn’t mince her words, and can often come across as very hostile and abrasive.


BRAINE: Red hair always means TROUBLE. What do you think it is about Mack that readers will like and identify with?

HELEN HARPER: Mack isn’t perfect. She uncovers the fact that she holds some incredible powers, and she would be an amazing person to have going to bat for you because she’s so fiercely loyal. But she has many faults and many insecurities at the same time, just in the same way that I think we as people do.


BRAINE: And of course I have to ask you about Lord Alpha, Corrigan! The name alone is so sexy. Is he the hero or the villain? What is it about him that readers will fall in love with?

HELEN HARPER: And Corrigan himself is seriously sexy! He is a part of all four books, and the romance between him and Mack builds gradually in each one. He is much more of a hero than a villain, however Mack often doesn’t see him that way and they clash more than once. As far as she’s concerned, he’s a power hungry megalomaniac, but she can’t deny her attraction towards him. He is definitely an alpha male, but she’s an alpha female so it’s not a smooth path for either of them…


BRAINE: Corrigan sounds like the perfect Alpha, obnoxious but irresistibly sexy! How many books are there in the series, printed and yet to be released?

HELEN HARPER: So far there are four books in the series. I’m just about to start writing the fifth. I think it will probably be the last one following Mack, but I can’t say for sure. I don’t like planning out the stories before I write them – I find it much more exciting to watch them unfold myself as I type, so generally it depends on where the characters take me as to what happens and how far the series goes. If Mack has more to tell me, then there’ll be more books!


BRAINE: For those who aren't familiar with the series, which other UF/PNR series does BLOOD DESTINY share a zip code with?

HELEN HARPER: A lot of fans have suggested that they are similar to Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, as well as Patricia Briggs’ and Dannika Dark's books. I love the genre and wanted to explore it myself as a writer, and I don’t think I stray too far off the beaten track that others have already been down. That can be a good thing for some readers and a bad thing for others! Surprisingly, I get many comments as well that it’s a pleasant surprise having the series set in the UK instead of the USA. I find it baffling that there aren’t more UF/PNR British writers when we have such a rich mythical history to plumb.


BRAINE: If BLOOD DESTINY is to be on the front page of NYT, what would the headline say? 

HELEN HARPER: That’s really hard! ‘Red Hot Rages’ perhaps? Although that suggests lots of sex (which there isn’t!)….er…..maybe 

How having a big mouth can be a very bad thing


BRAINE: LOL, I love it! Any new projects in the works? 

HELEN HARPER: I want to go back to my roots as a reader and delve into epic fantasy, I think. There are so many writers out there at the moment whom I really admire: Patrick Rothfuss, Joe Abercrombie, to name just two, that I feel inspired to give it a try myself. I grew up on traditional fantasy stories so I have lots of ideas swirling around. Once I've finished book five of BLOOD DESTINY, then I'll see where the land lies!



BRAINE: Do you have upcoming gigs or book signings? 

HELEN HARPER: I’m doing a virtual book promo tour at the moment so every couple of weeks I will keep popping up online on various book blogs. I live in Malaysia at the moment, however, so it’s difficult to even begin to think about arranging anything concrete. Hopefully there will be something in the future, but I can't promise!



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Bloodfire
Blood Destiny 1
December 29, 2012
156 Pages
Mack might be, to all intents and purposes, a normal looking human, but she lives with a pack of shapeshifters in Cornwall in rural England after being dumped there by her mother when she was just a young child. She desperately wants to be accepted by her surrogate family, not least because a lot of them hate her for merely being human, but for some reason her blood just won't allow the transformation to occur.

With a terrible temper to match her fiery red hair, Mack is extraordinarily useful in a fight, and when her pack alpha is brutally and abruptly murdered, she swears vengeance. Unfortunately, his murder also draws in the Brethren - the leaders of the shapeshifter world - who will slaughter everyone in Mack's small rural pack if they discover her true identity. Unfortunately Corrigan, the green-eyed muscle-bound Lord Alpha of the Brethren, doesn't let much slip by him.



Bloodfire
Blood Destiny 2
December 29, 2012
156 Pages

After escaping the claws of Corrigan, the Lord Alpha of the Brethren, Mack is trying to lead a quiet lonely life in Inverness in rural Scotland, away from anyone who might happen to be a shapeshifter. However, when she lands a job at an old bookstore owned by a mysterious elderly woman who not only has a familiar passion for herbal lore but also seems to know more than she should, Mack ends up caught in a maelstrom between the Ministry of Mages, the Fae and the Brethren.

Now she has to decide between staying hidden and facing the music, as well as confronting her real feelings for the green eyed power of Corrigan himself.

Bloodrage
Blood Destiny 3
March 7, 2013
237 Pages
Mack begins her training at the mages' academy in the hope that, by complying, the stasis spell will be lifted from her old friend, Mrs. Alcoon. However, once there, she finds herself surrounded by unfriendly adults and petulant teenagers, the majority of whom seem determined to see her fail.

Feeling attacked on all fronts, Mack finds it harder and harder to keep a rein on her temper. Forced to attend anger management classes and deal with the predatory attentions of Corrigan, the Lord Alpha of the shapeshifter world, her emotions start to unravel. But when she comes across a familiar text within the walls of the mages' library, which might just provide the clues she needs to unlock the secrets of her background and her dragon blood, she realises that her problems are only just beginning.


Blood Politics
Blood Destiny 4
May 22, 2013
242 Pages
You'd think that life would finally be dealing Mack Smith a kind hand. Living in London, and with the opening of the new improved city version of Clava Books mere days away, things appear to be settling down. Other than the terrible nightmares about dragons, that is. Or the fact that she's being constantly tailed by a string of mages, shifters and faeries, all of whom are constantly demanding her attention. And that's without even bringing the temptation of Corrigan, Lord Alpha of the Brethren, into the equation.

Then, when a local dryad asks her for some help, things really start to fire up. There are some long hot summer days ahead.


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