Posts Tagged ‘God Save the Queen’

Twisted Characters & Why We Love Them – LONG LIVE THE QUEEN!

I have a confession to make — I like characters that are flawed. I like them bitter and acerbic, and as capable of evil as they are of goodness. I particularly like those who are a little…unhinged. Not so much crazy-dangerous as crazy-reckless.

In the Immortal Empire series, I created Xandra Vardan who I think is a delightfully twisted character. I don’t want to go into spoiler territory, so I’ll say only that Xandy is a monster — even amongst the werewolves and vampires that populate her world. She’s a good-hearted person (for the most part). She’s loyal to those she loves and would do anything to protect them. She’s also snarky, petty and sometimes a raving bitch. And sometimes, she’d like to eat your liver — maybe open a vein. It would be entirely too easy for Xandra to kill, and she’s pretty certain she’d like it. In most stories she’d probably be the villain. In Long Live the Queen (and the first two books in the series, God Save the Queen, The Queen is Dead), she’s the hero.

I don’t think I’m alone in this preference for slightly mad characters. There’s a reason why Faith was so popular with Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans. She was predictable only in her unpredictability — a wild card. I loved it when Willow went dark, or when Spike and Dru came out to play.

A common mistake amongst authors — new and experienced — is to make our main character(s) so ‘good’ that they lack depth. That depth tends to then go into secondary characters who end up stealing every scene they’re in because they’re much more interesting and complex than the hero. In other cases, it simply doesn’t make sense for the protagonist to be that twisted. Buffy was a little of both. She didn’t have the luxury of being mad. Buffy had to be responsible and strong and righteous. That doesn’t mean she was always good, however. After all, she seem to have a thing for emotionally unstable men… One of my favorite episodes, though, is the one that had you wondering if Buffy really was a vampire slayer, or a poor delusional girl in a mental hospital. Either way, she’s screwed.

The bottom line is that characters need a balance of unpredictability to go with that predictable behavior. Everyone has a code by which they live, but we’re all capable of horrendous things. However, in a protagonist, that balance needs to be really clear — your narrator needs to be at least a little bit reliable. The most fascinating characters are good people capable of terrible things.

Or not so great people capable of great things. A great example of a recent character who made being twisted work is Captain Jack Sparrow. Not the most heroic of men, but when it comes right down to it, he can usually be depended on to do the right thing — or something that will lead to the right thing.

Xandra tries to be a good person, but sometimes she falls short. She’s not really that nice  — she’s selfish and petulant, and sometimes she’s a raving bitch. There were times when I worried for her sanity, and those were the times I loved her most. The monster in her wants blood and violence and maybe a little song and dance to go with it. In the movie Con Air Steve Buscemi’s character Garland Gray is an absolute nutcase — a psychopathic killer who once wore a victim’s head as a hat. He’s twisted. He’s also the most compelling character in the whole movie, and when he walks away in the end, you’re rooting for him even though you know he’s a monster. In fact, if you want a great example of twisted characters, watch ‘Sons of Anarchy’ — almost every one on that show is exactly the sort of character capable of both good and evil. I think Xandra would feel right at home.

In LONG LIVE THE QUEEN (US | UK | AUS) Xandra comes up against a character even more twisted than herself. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that Ally was incredibly fun to write. She was also heart-breaking. The more whacked I tried to make her, the more attached I became. My favorite characters in the series are the ones that are monsters and accept it — maybe even like it. At the very least, they make no excuses.

LONG LIVE THE QUEEN is out now! Look for it online and in stores everywhere. If you’re new to this series, check out the first book GOD SAVE THE QUEEN (US | UK | AUS).

Your playlist for a Victorian-punk Fantasy novel

Artwork for Emilie Autumn album Opheliac - the perfect soundtrack for the Immortal Empire series by Kate Locke, which starts with GOD SAVE THE QUEEN
Album artwork for Opheliac by Emilie Autumn. Image from

I don’t know about other authors, but for me the process of writing a book has always included music. Music provides so much inspiration for me, can really help in capturing the tone or feel of a scene – or an entire book! There are songs that have come to be so associated with one of my stories that I can’t listen to them without thinking of the characters the lyrics have come to represent.

I came into my teens in the 80s – I do not feel that old! – the decade of the music video. I remember seeing ‘Thriller’ for the first time, and staring slack-jawed at the TV as this amazing story played out in front of me. Aha’s ‘Take On Me’ is still one of my all-time favorite videos. The merging of music and story took hold of me and refused to let go.

The first book I ever wrote (I was 12 so be kind!) was about a rock band. OK, it was about Duran Duran, but I changed the names. Over 300 pages of angst and music – I even wrote lyrics, which were awful. To this day, if a song grabs my attention I’m going to think of a story to go along with it – my own little music video playing inside my head. It doesn’t matter if it’s Nine Inch Nails, Bon Jovi or Alice Cooper, if it catches my attention, I’m going to find the plot and play it out in my head.

God Save the Queen - a vctorian punk urban fantasy novel by Kate Locke - and perfect to go with Emile Autumn's album OpheliacSo, it shouldn’t surprise you that the Immortal Empire has a soundtrack behind it. As I plotted and planned, and then began to write, I actually embarked upon a quest to find the the perfect music. I wanted something that was modern, but would make me think of the Victorian Era as well. Then, I discovered Emilie Autumn and I knew I’d found my soundtrack. Not just my soundtrack, but a target audience. At this point I wasn’t certain my weird little book would be of interest to anyone, but then I visited Emilie’s fan boards and realized that there were people out there who would like this sort of book.

I could ramble on and on about music and how it inspires me, and how I’m making a jacket to wear to Emilie’s next concert in New York with all the glee of a 14 year-old dying her bangs to match John Taylor’s, but I think I’ll share some of my playlists with you instead. Here are just a few songs (in no particular order) that I listened to while writing these books. Will they make you think of various scenes or characters in the Immortal Empire? Oh, I’m not going to list songs from LONG LIVE THE QUEEN – I don’t want to give anything away! (more…)

This Day In Alternate History

Locke_TheQueenIsDead-HCTHE QUEEN IS DEAD (US | UK | AUS) releases officially today and if you thought GOD SAVE THE QUEEN (US | UK | AUS) was good, wait until you read this next installment of The Immortal Empire series. If you’re new to these, get ready for a modern day London unlike our own in so many fun  and mysterious ways. But you might be wondering how it got that way. To fill in the gaps, Kate Locke has written up an alternate timeline of notable events in the world of the Immortal Empire. So get ready. Get set. This is not your average history lesson, boys and girls. 

February 5 2010 – Vex MacLaughlin spies a grown Xandra Vardan for the first time at a society function. Sources claim to have overheard Churchill telling the Scottish wolf to stay away from his ‘dear girl.’

March 27 1937 – The corpse of Human League activist and German painter Adolf Hitler was found in his home almost completely drained of blood. The killer was never found.

April 4 1968 – Popular British TV show ‘Coronation Street’ introduces it’s first Half-blood character, Nancy. The daughter of a working class couple who had no idea that both of them carried the plague from long-dead ancestors. Nancy’s look was based on model Jean Shrimpton, and her iconic violet hair was said to be inspired by an Andy Warhol painting of Marilyn Monroe.

April 16 2012 – Sid Vicious released his Frank Sinatra tribute album and dedicated it to his wife Nancy.

May 24 1819 – Her Ensanguined Majesty Queen Victoria was born. Her parents knew she was a vampire the moment she bit her nurse.

June 3 2001 – Bertie, Prince of Wales is named one of the world’s ‘sexiest men’ by People Magazine. His mother, Queen Victoria is not amused. Werewolf Alpha Vex MacLaughlin is also mentioned. He was decidedly amused.

June 3 1990 – Courtesan Juliet Claire is attacked and bitten by a were while pregnant with the Duke of Vardan’s eldest daughter.

July 13 1971 – A pink-haired half-blood named Locke was mistakenly admitted to Bedlam Asylum for the Insane when she began to rant about the voices in her head. The poor soul wasn’t mad, she was just an author. Though, some would say the two are synonymous.

August 21, 1765 – The Duke of Clarence born the first goblin of the Royal Family. His mother, a strong woman by all accounts, fainted at the sight of him.

September 17 1982 – Miranda Windsor crowned the first aristocrat Miss America. She was also Miss Congeniality.

September 30st 1972  – American toy company Mattel introduces it’s ‘Vampire Barbie’. A half-blood Skipper and Werewolf Ken follow.

October 12 1905 – Exotic dancer Mata Hari becomes mistress to Bertie, the Prince of Wales.

November 8 1847 – Birthday of Bram Stoker, who would be exiled from the UK because of his scandalous depiction of vampires in his novel Dracula.

December 18 1990 — Alexandra Vardan born. Long may she reign.

Want to know more? Kate Locke elaborates in this article on RT Book Reviews.

Read a sample from THE QUEEN IS DEAD by Kate Locke

Locke_TheQueenIsDead-HCXandra is back next month in the next installment of the Immortal Empire series!  THE QUEEN IS DEAD (US | UK | AUS) will knock your spats off when a new threat to kingdom and crown rises up and Xandra and her family find themselves again at the heart of the matter.

The first chapter can be found here, but if you haven’t read GOD SAVE THE QUEEN (US | UK | AUS) yet, HOLD UP!  There are some major spoilers ahead. So do yourself a favor and start with GOD SAVE THE QUEEN – a unique blend of urban fantasy and Victorian flare. Check out some of the great praise these novels have received.

Praise for the Immortal Empire series:

“Locke has developed an intricate and darkly political world that has various races on edge and on the verge of confrontation. Packed with knife-edged danger, treachery and murder, nothing is simple, as Xandra quickly learns. Although it certainly helps to have read the first book in Locke’s Immortal Empire series, readers can pick up the story from here. If you like your steampunk gritty and challenging, this is the series for you!” – RT Reviews on THE QUEEN IS DEAD

“Readers will be intrigued by the author’s original take on the origins of vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures and their interactions with “normal” humans. Rapid-paced action and an original interpretation of goblins (they are not J.K. Rowling’s cranky, clever, gold-centric goblins) add much to differentiate Locke’s fantasy from the rest of the pack.” – Library Journal on GOD SAVE THE QUEEN

“This is truly a book to sink your teeth into.” – SF REVU on GOD SAVE THE QUEEN

God Save the Queen, Tea & Duran Duran

God Save the Queen (US | UK | AUS) is about vampires, goblins, werewolves, humans and in-betweens. It’s about politics, power and loyalty, with a healthy dose of sex and blood tossed in for good measure. It’s set in a world where the Victorian Era never ended, and the Black Death ironically created an immortal aristocracy.

It also never would have been written without tea and Duran Duran.

When I was but a babe in the wilds of rural Nova Scotia, the first hot drink I remember having was not hot chocolate, but tea. Tea, it was understood, fixed everything, complimented all food groups, and had magical properties. We brewed it by the bag if we had to, but the norm was to toss a handful of leaves into a pot, add hot water and spend the rest of the day picking the bloody things out of your teeth. My mother read tea leaves. In fact, she was quite well known for it. She said the leaves in the bottom of my cup told her I was going to be a writer (she also told me they said I’d meet John Taylor, but more on him later). People came from all over to have her read their leaves. Some of them came back every freaking week, eager to hear what she saw in the bottom of their cup.

I wondered if perhaps she should buy stock in Red Rose.

My mum passed away a year and a half ago. She never did buy stock in Red Rose tea, but she passed on her knowledge of the leaves, and when I have a cuppa, I almost always think of her. I also think of her whenever I see Victorian clutter, pink Christmas tree ornaments, big hats and Grisly Adams (don’t ask). Anyway, tea remains an important part of my life and my career. I feel I must also acknowledge Mum’s love of the supernatural as well, because this apple certainly didn’t fall far when it comes to things that lurk in the shadows. My mother also made up bedtime stories for me, and sometimes we’d plot them together.