Giveaways Inspirations and Influences

Guest Author & Giveaway: Karen Mahoney on Inspirations & Influences

Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their…well, Inspirations and Influences. The cool thing is that the writers are given free rein so they can go wild and write about anything they want. It can be about their new book, series or about their career as a whole.

Today’s guest is our dear friend Karen Mahoney – writer of UF/YA whose second book – The Wood Queen – is coming out this month in the US, UK and Australia. We had to invite Kaz to talk about her inspirations and influences – so here she is, ladies and gents…

…Kaz Mahoney!

First of all, thanks for having me over. I always love to talk bookish things with my smuggling buddies!

The Wood Queen is the second novel I have published and the second book in a trilogy. If you think it gets easier the more work you publish, I am here to tell you that you have it all wrong. Second novels are more laden with expectations: the ones we put on ourselves, those from our editor/publisher, and of course the ones we should quite rightly expect from our readers. All these things conspire to make it extra tricky to get that second story out there.

Thank goodness, I managed it and – amazingly – I’m quite proud of the result! The Wood Queen sees things get more complicated for Donna Underwood, and she has to become a stronger person as a result. I love writing a YA heroine who is figuring out her own path and trying to solve her own problems.

In the spirit of the regular Inspirations & Influences posts that The Book Smugglers host from other authors, here is a short list of Three Things That Inspired/Influenced The Wood Queen:

1. ‘The Handless Maiden’ or ‘Girl with Silver Hands’ folklore from all over the world. I talked about this at length elsewhere when The Iron Witch came out, and it remains an influence over the entire trilogy.

Art by Susan Sorrell Hill

2. Donna Troy, a character from DC Comics (she used to be Wonder Girl in her younger days), who is definitely an inspiration for my Donna Underwood.

Art by Phil Jimenez

3. Roger Bacon, a thirteenth century English alchemist was said to have carried out all kinds of magical experiments. He seems like a fascinating character: a friar, who hundreds of years after his death had more and more sorcery attached to his name and reputation. He was a man of faith and a man of science, that much seems clear, but there are some rich legends that I dug into and ‘borrowed’ for one particular character in The Wood Queen.

Thanks Kaz! And now for the giveaway…


Courtesy of the author, we are giving away two signed copies of The Wood Queen and the two winners get to choose which edition they like best (covers above). In order to enter, simply leave a comment here telling us what’s your favourite folklore-inspired story. The contest is open to ALL and will run till February 11 at 11:59PM (PST). Only one entry per person, please – multiple comments will be disqualified. Good luck!


  • Birgit
    February 2, 2012 at 12:56 am

    I’ll stick to the classics – Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” is based on “The Devil’s Bet,” a story of a shrewish wife and a devilish water spirit, which is one of my favs.

  • Carol Thompson
    February 2, 2012 at 1:51 am

    One of my favorites is Eight Days of Luke by Diana Wynne Jones.

    I believe it is based on a Norse myth and I have been told that Neil Gaimen’s American Gods is based on the same myth.

    Thanks for the giveaway and for opening it to worldwide entries.

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  • Lily Froggy
    February 2, 2012 at 2:33 am

    I don’t know if American Gods is a proper folklore-inspired story but I am such a Gaiman fan that I couldn’t pick anything else. Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Butterfly_Ghost
    February 2, 2012 at 3:31 am

    It’s really hard to take a pick because there are so many great myth-inspired stories out there… I mean, basically anything to do with fairies or vampires is based on some kind of lore. But a book I read recently and whose world building I thought was really awesome is Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton. It’s inspired by the Medusa myth.

    Thanks for the giveaway, and for making it international!

  • Emily
    February 2, 2012 at 3:48 am

    Oh, I really can’t wait to read The Wood Queen!

    Hmm, I would have to say that my favourite tale turned novel would have to be The Goose Girl, collected by The Brothers Grimm, to the novel The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale.

    I really love the original tale and was excited when I found that there was a full out novel based on it!

    Thanks for the competition!


  • Calamity Jane
    February 2, 2012 at 3:57 am

    Another international contest! Awsome!

    I would have to pick The Mists of Avalon as one of my favorite folklore inspired tales….the Arthurian legends are pretty much British folklore right?

    *keeps fingers crossed* 🙂

  • Bookklovr22
    February 2, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Fury by Elizabeth Miles, which is based on the Furies of Greek myths, is probably my favorite lore turned novel. I also liked The Goddess Test by Aimée Carter, it’s kind of a modern day Hades and Persephone story.

    Thanks for the Giveaway!

  • Ginny
    February 2, 2012 at 5:28 am

    I love Jim C. Hines’ Princess series with is based on a mix of faerie tales, and has three strong female main characters who save the prince.

  • jude
    February 2, 2012 at 5:41 am

    I am liking the recommendations in the comment thread! I really loved Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest–a wrenching and beautiful rendition of “The Six Swans.”

  • Mandi Venard
    February 2, 2012 at 5:49 am

    I definitely have to echo, The Daughter of the Forest, such a beautiful book.

  • Shannon H
    February 2, 2012 at 6:20 am

    I really love Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley

  • Kelly L.
    February 2, 2012 at 6:32 am

    Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones. Based on the Tam Lin and True Thomas ballads. Just a terrific book. I evangelize it to everyone. 😀

  • The Wood Queen in the UK!! | Karen Mahoney – Urban Fantasy Writer
    February 2, 2012 at 6:40 am

    […] celebrate the UK release of The Wood Queen, I’m posting at The Book Smugglers today with a brief look at the Inspirations & Influences behind the novel, along with an […]

  • Emily Thompson
    February 2, 2012 at 6:40 am

    I think Entwined by Heather Dixon is my favourite. It’s a retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses, and it was amazing. Like, unbelievably so.

  • SarahC,
    February 2, 2012 at 6:49 am

    Like Lily Froggy, I can’t pick anything other than American Gods as Neil Gaiman is wonderful. 😀

  • Ellie
    February 2, 2012 at 7:02 am

    I love The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale.

  • Jackie Kessler
    February 2, 2012 at 7:12 am

    **don’t enter me in the giveaway**

    Kaz, I used to love Donna Troy — but I stopped reading The Teen Titans way before the Troia storyline stuff, so I just remember her as Wonder Girl. 🙂

    Favorite folklore-inspired story? Um. Well, it’s not folklore; it’s Biblical. LAMB by Christopher Moore, about Christ’s childhood best friend, Biff. Utterly brilliant.

  • Brenda
    February 2, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, based on Cinderella, of course.

  • Nikki Egerton
    February 2, 2012 at 7:38 am

    You pretty much just have to tell me a story is based on folklore, or a fairy take and I’m interested!
    One I read and liked recently was Deerskin, by Robin McKinley, based on the French Donkeyskin fairy tale.

    Thanks for the giveaway Kaz and congrats on the release of The Wood Queen


  • Greg
    February 2, 2012 at 7:51 am


    Took me a few minutes to think it through and being a D&D player from way back and a fan of foreign myths…. I’d have to say the Hellboy comic because Mignola pulls on the Russian stories of Baba Yaga. I’d also throw in Bill Willinghams brilliant use of folk lore and fairy tales in his comics Elementals, Pantheon and the more recent Fables…

  • Greg
    February 2, 2012 at 7:52 am


    Took me a few minutes to think it through and being a D&D player from way back and a fan of foreign myths…. I’d have to say the Hellboy comic because Mignola pulls on the Russian stories of Baba Yaga. I’d also throw in Bill Willinghams brilliant use of folk lore and fairy tales in his comics Elementals, Pantheon and the more recent Fables

  • Becky
    February 2, 2012 at 7:58 am

    I love all of the Tor Fairy Tale series, particularly Tam Lin by Pamela Dean.

  • Katy
    February 2, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Oh there are so many to mention! One of my recent faves (I just reviewed this book with my students yesterday) is Breadcrumbs by Ann Ursu. Allusions galore!! And then an all-time fave is Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier because Beauty and the Beast retellings have a soft spot in my heart, and Marillier’s is one of the best i.m.p.o.

  • Suzanne B.
    February 2, 2012 at 8:23 am

    The answer has recently changed – I just read Tam Lin, by Pamela Dean, and I’m madly in love. Based, of course, on the Tam Lin myth, but with an English majors vs. mysterious Classic majors throwdown. Sheer awesomeness.

  • Stephanie
    February 2, 2012 at 8:24 am

    I would say Ash by Malindo Lo. A wonderful, elegant retelling of Cinderella beween two women.

  • Katie
    February 2, 2012 at 8:26 am

    I would have to say “Wildwood Dancing” is my favorite folklore re-telling.

  • Mallorie
    February 2, 2012 at 8:43 am

    My favorite fairy tale has always been The Twelve Dancing Princesses and so I loved Entwined and Princess of the Midnight Ball

  • Lothfleur
    February 2, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Thank you for the giveway!
    My favorite folklore-inspired story is Ash, by Malinda Lo. It’s based on Cinderella but with a twist and after reading it, you can’t help asking yourself how the world would have been if we’d had a similar version of Cinderella.

  • Allyson
    February 2, 2012 at 8:53 am

    I have to agree with several others above- Tam Lin by Pamela Dean is my favorite folk tale retelling. I read it at least once a year- sometimes twice!

  • Ashley
    February 2, 2012 at 8:56 am

    I have to say that Outlaws of Sherwood is probably one of my favorite books.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Rena
    February 2, 2012 at 9:18 am

    I already saw this answer in the comments above but I have to say it as well. I loved Ash by Malinda Lo, it got me thinking about all the other fairytales and how you could retell them in a different light.
    P.S. I can’t wait for the Wood Queen to come out!

  • Tina
    February 2, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Wildwood Dancing which is based on the 12 dancing princesses fairytale

  • Pippi55
    February 2, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Either The Daughter of the Forest or Ash, I really can’t decide.

  • Vanessa
    February 2, 2012 at 10:21 am

    I love Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley. But Tam Lin by Pamela Dean is right up there too. Sooo hard to pick.

  • Kay-Kay-Bay
    February 2, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Entwined by Heather Dixon has already been mentioned a couple times, but it really is good.
    I also love Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones.

  • Mieneke
    February 2, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Yay! Another international giveaway 🙂

    My favorite folklore tale is Cinderella, and my favourite retelling of that is Ash by Malinda Lo.

  • Laurie L
    February 2, 2012 at 11:11 am

    For me, any of Juliet Marilier’s books, especially “Daughter of the Forest” and “Wildwood Dancing”

  • keri
    February 2, 2012 at 11:17 am

    It’s often hard to decide, but I’m very much fond of the anthologies that Ellen Datlow and Terry Windling edited, especially the Silver Birch, Blood Moon one because of “The Sea Hag” by Melissa Lee Shaw – a retelling of “The Little Mermaid”. (I love that whole series of anthologies, though!) I”m also crazy about The Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale…

  • Serena
    February 2, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Another vote for Daughter of the Forest, one of my favorite books of all time.

  • Rin
    February 2, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Ohhh.. I’ll have to go with Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley.

  • Irene
    February 2, 2012 at 11:45 am

    I quite liked Ash by Malinda Lo. 🙂
    Can’t wait for The Wood Queen!

  • MK
    February 2, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    My favorite traditional fairy tale is definitely the Firebird (at least, I think that counts as a traditional one?). My favorite modern fairy tale is “Cold” by A.S. Byatt, which is a tale about an ice princess who falls for a desert prince. Kind of a “a bird may love a fish, but where would they live” situation with absolutely brilliant writing.

    As for for works inspired by fairy tales, I really, really love Daughter of the Forest and Ash.

  • Lisa Stafko
    February 2, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    My calendar this year is called Vampireology. It has interesting folklore and stories

  • Lis
    February 2, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    My favourite folklore-inspired story is ‘The Book of Lost Things’ by John Connolly, a great book, in which Connolly takes a great many fairy tales and myths and wraps them around, twisting them so wonderfully gruesome until they all form a new story.

  • Breanne
    February 2, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    It’s already been mentioned but I also have to go with Daughter of the Forest.

  • Mary Preston
    February 2, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    I loved reading HEART’S BLOOD by Juliet Marillier. It is inspired by BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

  • Alex
    February 2, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    I have to choose!?

    Fine. Um…. Tamsin, by Peter S. Beagle. Ghosts + old manor + protagonist with an excellent voice + history + British folklore = one of my Top 5 Books to Bring on a Desert Island.

  • Yun-A
    February 2, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    I have so many favorites, but currently, my favorite is “Snow” by Tracy Lynn, based on Snow White. It’s part of Simon & Schuster’s “Once Upon a Time” series.

  • Victoria Zumbrum
    February 2, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    I love the legend of King Arthur and Camelot. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read this book.

  • paige
    February 2, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    That looks like a great book. I recently read Entwined and loved it.

  • Angela
    February 2, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    I am so happy 😛 I got The Wood Queen today in the mail! The Australian cover is pretty.

  • scribe kira
    February 2, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    hmm…folklore novel…does the goose girl by shannon hale count? i liked that book. or…maybe the book of lost things–that incorporates a LOT of different fairy tales. hmm…but FOLKLORE…well, that’s all i’ve got, so i suppose they will have to do–i do love them both though!!! =o) (plus, i have wanted to read the first book in this series for a long time, so i am also counting that. =o) )

  • Rhylee
    February 2, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Oh I can never think on the spot. I have always loved Ella Enchanted.

  • Raina
    February 2, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier. Because Juliet Marillier is a boss.

  • Rachel
    February 2, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    I really liked “The Stolen Child” by Keith Donohue, which is based on the legend of the Changeling.

  • Llehn
    February 2, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    I’m going with A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan which is inspired by Sleeping Beauty.

  • Dovile
    February 2, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    My favorite story is torn by Amanda Hocking, which is based on stories of changelings. i liked her take on it.

    Love the Australian cover!

    spamscape [at] gmail [dot] com

  • Yuko86
    February 3, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Thank you for the giveaway.

    My favourite folklore-based story is, without any doubt at all, Ash by Malinda Lo: a very particular retelling of Cinderella.

  • Rachel
    February 3, 2012 at 12:25 am

    Absolutely anything by Juliet Marillier 🙂

  • Nimue
    February 3, 2012 at 12:55 am

    The Mists of Avalon. I love this book and still re-read it occasionally. It’s sad, beautiful, sometimes funny and in the end just bittersweet.

    For once I actually love all three national covers. They did a good job for the Wood Queen.

  • Helle
    February 3, 2012 at 3:37 am

    If I have to pick just one, my favourite would have to be Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier 🙂

  • Justine
    February 3, 2012 at 3:59 am

    Mulan is my pick!

  • Audra Holtwick
    February 3, 2012 at 5:44 am


  • Heidi
    February 3, 2012 at 10:25 am

    I love The Secret of Roan Inish, inspired by selkie folklore.

    I agree with Nimue, I’m surprised to say I actually like all three covers. I love the colors of the Aussie cover, but my favorite is the US one.

  • Annie
    February 3, 2012 at 11:11 am

    I’d have to say that Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier is myfavorite (if that counts!)

  • Stephanie Burgis
    February 3, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    This is a really hard question to answer! But: maybe, today: ICE, by Sarah Beth Durst.

    Huge, huge congratulations, Kaz!

  • Mel B
    February 3, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    I love the American cover because I love a series that matches cover artwork and the UK cover is beautiful as well 🙂 I loved the first book and CAN NOT wait for the Wood Queen to be out!

  • Tina@Tinasbookreviews
    February 3, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Briar Rose is one of my favorite retelling of Sleeping Beauty…

    Thanks for the giveaway..!

  • jenmitch
    February 3, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    though i think the connection with sleeping beauty is pretty thin, i LOVED a long long sleep. that book freaking rocked my world.

    thanks for the give away — i’ve been hoping to read the iron witch for a while now!

  • Shavana
    February 3, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Hmm. I don’t know. I love Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix, which is all about Cinderella after the fairy-tale ends. I also love Mists of Avalon and Briar Rose. I love a lot of Gregory Maguire’s retellings of old fairytales. I’m not sure if these count, but they’re all great books!!

  • Na S.
    February 4, 2012 at 12:32 am

    I haven’t come across too many folk-lore inspired stories but I enjoy those based on fairy tales such as Hansel and Gretzel and Beauty and the Beast. All of the covers are beautiful!

  • Peta
    February 4, 2012 at 3:15 am

    So glad to see that other people have also gone for Juliet Marillier. After much agonising, I’ve finally gone for Daughter of the Forest (the first book of hers I read) but Wildwood Dancing was a pretty close second.

  • Becky B
    February 4, 2012 at 7:07 am

    I love “The Black Swan” by Mercedes Lackey–inspired by the story behind the ballet “Swan Lake,” (that’s kind of folklore, right?)

    Juliet Marillier’s “Daughter of the Forest” is another fantastic book.

  • Lucia Hua
    February 4, 2012 at 10:39 am

    The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa… fairies yay! Also Gail Carson Levine’s books… Ella Enchanted yay!!!

  • Charlene
    February 6, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Mists of Avalon has to be my favorite based on folklore.

  • miki
    February 6, 2012 at 3:13 am

    the mist of avalon is also my my favorite

    thanks you a lot for this international giveaway. All the cover are pretty but i prefer the us and australian one

    all the best

  • 5 things on a Monday | Karen Mahoney – Urban Fantasy Writer
    February 6, 2012 at 5:30 am

    […] Smuggled! Don’t forget to enter The Book Smugglers’ giveaway for The Wood Queen. You can choose whichever edition you like best, if you win. (You can also ask me for a copy of The […]

  • Becky C.
    February 6, 2012 at 8:35 am

    A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

  • Jessica@a GREAT read
    February 6, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Ooh toughie! I guess almost any tale! Especially ones that take after fairy tales! I really enjoy those since I love fairy tales! Although lately there have been some novels that take a Greek myth as their basis for storyline and those are awesome too!

  • Debora B
    February 6, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Anything related to the Arthurian Legend, but mostly The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. The Wood Queen sounds amazing! Thanks for the giveaway =)

  • Dellan
    February 6, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Beauty by Robin McKinley

  • donnas
    February 6, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Gregory Macquires alternate retellings are my favorites.

  • catherine james
    February 7, 2012 at 12:46 am

    I’m so excited about The Wood Queen‘s release! Congratulations on your second novel hitting the shelves Kaz. You’ve singlehandedly rekindled my interest in alchemy. 😀

  • Wendy
    February 7, 2012 at 8:12 am

    I seriously LOVED Beastly by Alex Finn because the whole story was told from the beasts point of view and we got to see his transformation from idiot to Mr. nice guy. 😀

  • NatarshaOZ
    February 7, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    The Books of Blood by Clive Barker are still a stand out for me all these years later. When I first read them I didn’t realise just how much mythology had been layered into his stories. Subtle, diverse, very very dark and brilliant.

  • hannahak
    February 7, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    I’d have to go for Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George, based off of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. But such a hard choice!

  • Hannah w
    February 8, 2012 at 4:06 am

    I love North Child by Edith Pattou, I’m pretty sure it’s based on a fairy tale, it seemed familiar… any how it’s a great book :]

  • Happy Book Birthday, to me! | Karen Mahoney – Urban Fantasy Writer
    February 8, 2012 at 8:17 am

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  • Elie
    February 8, 2012 at 8:30 am

    There are tons to choose from. I am drawn to those that have a dark spin. Like the wicked versions of Little Red or Cinderellla.

  • Annabelle H
    February 8, 2012 at 10:15 am

    My favourite folklore-inspired story is the Soul Screamers series about Banshees.

  • Alina
    February 8, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    I would like to enter the contest

  • Isabel G-G
    February 8, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    My favorite folklore-inspired story is Shadows on the Moon, by Zoe Marriott.

  • cindy v
    February 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    can wait to read your books The folklore story is the Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa

  • Chenise Jones
    February 8, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    A Long, Long Sleep was an amazing book!

  • Rachael
    February 9, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    I’m reading this right now, its just as good as I expected!

    I’m going to have too go with two folk-law inspired books:
    (1.) Maggie Stiefvater’s “Scorpio Races’ based on an Irish Folklore tale of horses from the sea.
    (2.) Jackson Pearce’s “Sisters Red” based on the Brothers Grimm’s “Little Red Riding Hood.”

    I love, love the UK cover. 🙂

  • Memory
    February 10, 2012 at 11:47 am

    I’m torn between ELLA ENCHANTED by Gail Carson Levine and BEAUTY by Robin McKinley. I love both sooooo much.

  • Alecsa All
    February 11, 2012 at 10:20 am

    My favourite is Beastly by Alex Flinn.

  • Flori
    February 11, 2012 at 10:23 am

    I think my favourite folklore-inspired story is Ella Enchanted

  • Susan Sorrell Hill
    February 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Hi Karen,
    Thank you for using and crediting my “Girl with Silver Hands” image in your above post for The Handless Maiden Tale…and thank you for your compliments, too!

    My vote for your survey would definitely go to Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters Trilogy (now five delicious tomes), and in particular, the first book: The Daughter of Sevenwaters. I don’t think I could live without reading these books at least once a year, preferably twice!

    Best wishes on your fascinating site, Susan

  • Smugglers’ Stash and News | The Book Smugglers
    February 12, 2012 at 10:09 am

    […] MIENEKE […]

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