True Colorz is your web source for all things YA in the LGBTQ community! Our blog features new releases, featured authors, interviews, and reviews/recommended reading.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Featured Author: Eleanor Keane

Eleanor Keane is the author of The Breathing Ghosts and The Blood Witching- two dark vampire fantasy novels aimed at young adults, and the accompanying short story collection, The Ghosts' Feast. All have strong alternative LGBT characters- including a host of out and proud lesbian vampires and very gay werewolves- and are available to buy as ebooks from Amazon and

Eleanor has written previously for For Books' Sake,, Vampire Review and for the Feminist Library, London (UK,) and has also given numerous readings from The Breathing Ghosts, including at Westminster Reference Library, London (with the poets and authors Sophia Blackwell and Roz Kaveney) Freedom Press Anarchist Bookshop and the Feminist Library, also in London (with the author Liam Livings.) She has previously been interviewed for Dark Gothic Resurrected ezine (Summer 2013 issue) and for Nyx Book Reviews. She is also a feminist.

Connect with Eleanor Keane on Twitter @EleanorKeane1 or visit her website:

Q&A with Author Eleanor Keane:

  1. Tell us about your cover design. Is there any symbolism from the story reflected in the cover?

    Firstly, I should mention that the cover art for all my literary work is by the very talented graphic designer and artist, Rebecca Weaver. I didn’t want to include images of young women on my covers as I see that a lot in popular YA fiction already, and as a feminist I didn’t want to project an ideal of what my characters ‘should’ look like, i.e. ‘beautiful’, ‘perfect’, thin or airbrushed.

    Instead, I intended the cover design for The Breathing Ghosts to be more symbolic. I wanted it to reflect the idea of containment, entrapment and freedom, so I included a cage- literally a ‘gilded cage’. The butterfly escaping from the cage also symbolizes the plight of one my vampire characters- a vampire named Violet Valvayne, who longs to be free of her controlling brother so that she can start a relationship with the vampire huntress Rowan Oakwood. Violet is gentle and inherently fragile, just like the butterfly, but the door of her ‘gilded cage’ is all too ready to close upon her.

    The motif of the cage is seen again on the cover of my short story collection, The Ghosts’ Feast, which also features LGBT vampires. This time, there is a black rose within the cage, which to me symbolizes the darkness and decadence of the vampires within the stories, and their own dark desires.

    The cover for my most recent work, The Blood Witching, features a black pentacle (a four pointed star in a circle) surrounded by white butterflies. This is because the novel focuses on a lesbian vampire sorceress known as the Blood Witch, who uses a pentagram (a four-pointed star) as her symbol. The white butterflies symbolize her unfortunate victims.

  2. In what way is your story unique compared to other books in this genre?

    Without sounding too big-headed, I think my story is unique compared to other YA dark fantasy fiction mainly because of the variety of its LGBT characters. In some YA vampire fiction, LGBT characters aren’t included at all. Instead, the only role models for young teens are (usually white) heterosexual, which seems a real shame given the sexual freedom, power and diversity that vampires can often represent. Sometimes LGBT characters are included, but either as a ‘villain’ type, or as ‘sidekick’ or ‘token’ characters who struggle either with their sexuality and/or with their relationships. They don’t really seem to progress or develop as characters beyond their sexuality, whereas mine have fully fleshed-out back stories, personal tragedies, secrets, memories, foibles and quirks. There’s no definitive ‘good’ or ‘bad’ characters either- even the cruellest of vampires can in turn be vulnerable, and vice versa.

    In The Breathing Ghosts, the heroine-Rowan Oakwood-is openly and unashamedly lesbian, whilst in some ways the sequel, The Blood Witching, focuses on the fall-out from a lesbian relationship that went hideously, horribly wrong. That one failed relationship acts as magnet for most of the action, and the pain and loss of that heartbreak has left dangerous scars, and a desperate need for revenge.

    I was keen to add humour and lightness to what could otherwise be quite a dark plot, but I also didn’t want to tie every relationship up with a neat little bow. In my opinion, real life isn’t like that- especially not for LGBT young adults who may face discrimination, homophobia, prejudice and bullying on a daily basis. I wanted to explore what it means today to be an outsider, to be different, and to truly be yourself, without resorting to overtly-saccharine ‘happy endings’, irrelevant love triangles or abstinence plots.

    I think it’s important to show realistic LGBT relationships- regardless of whether they’re between vampires or werewolves. As a result, some of the issues within my work revolve around social anxiety, sexuality and difference. Most of my characters can be seen as survivors in some way, and though they may be scarred by their experiences, they’re ultimately stronger because of what they’ve had to go through.

  3. What part of the story was the most fun to write? The most challenging?

    In terms of what was ‘fun’ to write, I’d say the humorous scenes. It’s really important for me to include humour in my work, particularly when dealing with tough issues and when using a Gothic- and sometimes quite macabre- tone. You always have to have light with shade! I also love describing amazingly outrageous outfits for one of my characters named Nerissa Naughton- who just happens to be a Goth lesbian vampire. So far some of her best outfits have included black velvet, stripy tights, skull necklaces and a badge saying ‘If You’re Pissed Off And You Know It Clap Your Hands.’

    In terms of challenging writing, I sometimes find it challenging to write dialogue- I prefer to write descriptive scenes.

  4. What other interests do you have outside of writing?

    As a committed feminist, I often go to feminist protests and demonstrations (which is more interesting than it sounds!) I also love going to galleries and museums and looking at the art of the Pre-Raphaelites. (I don’t think there will ever be a better artist than Dante Gabriel Rossetti, or at least no-one with a better name.) I also love shopping for vinyl records (I love rock music from the ‘60s and ‘70s) going to the cinema, dancing badly and browsing second-hand book shops. My guilty pleasure is Starbucks coffee.
  5. Which authors do you enjoy reading?

    I particularly like J.R.R. Tolkien, Anne Rice, Dorothy L. Sayers, Poppy Z. Brite, Michael Moorcock, Kate Millett, Cassandra Clare, J.K. Rowling, Kit Berry, Angela Carter, Joanne Harris and Garth Nix.
  6. Are there any LGBT charities or resources that are near and dear to you that you would like to give a shout out to?

    I think the Terence Higgins Trust does some very valuable work, as well as Stonewall and Mermaids, a charity for children and teenagers with gender identity issues. I also support the work of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation- which although not specifically an LGBT resource, does work to fight against the discrimination and intolerance aimed at people from alternative subcultures.
  7. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    That it’s okay to be yourself- even if that doesn’t fit into what others consider as ‘normal,’ or ‘average.’ In my first novel, The Breathing Ghosts, this is reflected in the novel’s focus on diversity and ‘uniqueness’- whether characters are vampire, mortal, gay, straight, werewolf or teenager, they all have something that marks them out as ‘different.’ More than that, instead of feeling ashamed or embarrassed about their difference, they openly accept, understand and embrace it. I feel there is great strength is truly being who you are, and not being afraid to defy convention and break the mould.

Now Available from Eleanor Keane:

The Breathing Ghosts Eighteen year old Rowan Oakwood isn’t quite like other girls. She’s a lesbian, a loner, an orphan and the first and last female vampire hunter of her line, forced to hunt vampires with a magic she can barely control.

But when the cold-hearted and cunning vampire Virgil Valvayne sets out for a brutal revenge, she soon finds herself a target.

Rowan knows she has no choice but to kill Virgil, so why is she so drawn to his beautiful and reclusive sister? And is Violet Valvayne really all she seems?

Soon boundaries are crossed, loyalties shift and dark alliances are forged, until Rowan doesn’t know whom to hate, whom to hunt, or whom to love…
The Blood Witching Angelica Blackthorne is many things: beautiful, bold, cruel and in the grip of a madness that threatens to destroy her. Resurrected as a vampire sorceress known as the Blood Witch, Angelica's lust for power knows no bounds, and she will stop at nothing to claim back her ex-lover, the vampire Nerissa Naughton- despite having murdered Nerissa's family years before.

Nerissa Naughton may be powerful, but confronting Angelica could cost her everything-even with the help of an unusual alliance of vampires, werewolves, mortals and the vampire huntress Rowan Oakwood.

With Angelica desperate to win Nerissa back, only three things are certain: hearts will be broken, blood will be spilled, and nothing will be the same again...
The Ghost's Feast In The Ghosts' Feast, the lives, loves and losses of some of the vampires within Eleanor Keane’s The Breathing Ghosts come to the fore: a young boy tries on his mother’s corset, a vampire servant becomes obsessed with her mistress, a lavish feast is laid out for the dead, and a dark goddess concocts deadly schemes.

These short stories - amongst many others - travel from Ancient Pompeii, to 19th century Venice, to London in the Swinging Sixties, and all of them are woven together with ominous undercurrents of desire, death and vengeance. Who can we trust? Who can we believe in?

In the world of The Ghosts’ Feast, some vampires are monsters, some monsters are human, and nothing is quite what is seems…

1 comment:

  1. Just getting to see this interview, and I had to comment on how much I enjoyed it. I am so impressed with the ideas behind the covers and the goals Eleanor has for them and her writing, especially the realism and fully-formed characters. Thank you for the interview, and I will definitely be checking out Ms. Keane's work.