While in Washington DC recently, I went to the International Spy Museum. They were having a special exhibit, "Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains." It was terrific fun and just packed with people, too. Everyone loves imagine being a secret agent—or else a supervillain. Okay, maybe more people want to be a villain; there were a lot of gleeful cat-stroking evil laughs there.
There's just something really appealing about the idea of the secret agent. Like playing dress-up as kids, it's a way to inhabit different roles. Even the villains get to remake their lives and their homes. Who doesn't want a supervillain lair? And what about those minions? When they're embodied by cool people like Grace Jones and Richard Kiel, they upstage the main villain altogether.
Of course Bond has to win in the end, so we can feel safe in the world. We might like to play the bad guys for a while but we all like to win. And Bond always looks good doing it. When I describe my secret agent Chastity Flame to people I usually use the shorthand description that she's like an über-sexy female James Bond. Since the Bond reboot with the yummy Daniel Craig that's a good selling point, although when I started thinking about Chas what I had in mind was the kick-ass heroine of Peter O'Donnell's comics and novels (and yes, the rather camp, pop art movie version from the 60s with the gorgeous Monica Vitti) Modesty Blaise.
You may notice a slight similarity of the names; it stated as a joke: "Oh, I'll think of something better by the time I finish…" but I ended up liking the name and I like that it's an homage to O'Donnell's heroine.
One of the things I loved about Bond in the reboot era (apart from Daniel Craig, yum yum!) was the relationship between him and M. Not surprising that the orphan should bond with the authority figure. I made Chastity an orphan too, who bonds with her boss 'Monitor' (which is also a nod to the Fry & Laurie parody of John Le Carré's novels). But she's mostly been on her own ever since.
In the second book, Lush Situation, we see further developments in her ability, as well as in her complicated love life. Once again there will be a lot of steamy encounters (scorching hot fun!) but there's also the opportunity for Chas to begin forging friendships, something she doesn't have a lot of experience with doing. She's really conflicted—it's only natural to want to build friendships, but she also realizes that being friends with someone in her line of work can put people in danger.
One of the lovely things about this series is working with cover artist S. L. Johnson who has a terrific sense of design. She has created some incredible covers for the books that really give them the oomph they deserve.
The first Chastity Flame book has a computer hacker, so she put some 0s and 1s in the background that spell out a special message (we had a contest to reward the first person too figure out the message!). I love the way the flames form her curvy hips and echo the fire from her gun.
In LushSituation the theme is human trafficking, which gets linked to an upscale London sex club for women. The handcuff hanging from Chas's hand echoes both of these themes, so at the same time it's playful and sinister. In the background are rows of stilettos, which create an eye-catching wallpaper to the image. The two covers look great side by side. I can't wait to see what the third one will look like, so I better get busy writing it!
For more on K.A. Laity, check out her page on AMAZON
Or follow her on Twitter @katelaity