The best books have the best characters. Think of Fagin from Oliver Twist, Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series, Tyrion Lannister of A Song of Ice and Fire or Matilda from her eponymous book.
Parents shouldn't have favourite children, teachers shouldn't have favourite pupils and authors shouldn't have favourite characters. So, here are some of my favourites:
Book: The Walker (Swords & Stars, Dead Moon)
Daryo is the loudest voice in my head, even years after I've finished his story. Starting as an orphaned baby, through his oppressive childhood, violent adolescent, heroic adulthood and ultimate death, I've followed Daryo through his whole life. I know his flaws, his favourite foods, his passions and his peeves. At least in my imagination, he's a whole person and, when I wrote his story, he often went off on his own tangents, dragging me along.
My sword and my service, Walker. And my thanks.
Book: Millennium Short Stories- Someone to love
Daryo's the loud voice, Charlie's the first. She was my first 'complete' character, more than just a few lines in a notebook. Charlie has her own hopes and dreams, she experiences loss and pain but ultimately hope. I've always thought of Charlie as the angel on the shoulder: flawed in her own way but ultimately trying to do right by everyone, especially family, as I do.
Princess is based on a true story so many of the characters are essentially the real people with some key details changed. Ashleigh (sorry, Ash) is an original, a composite of several people that I knew at university and elsewhere: slightly androgynous, slightly passive-aggressive and with a distinct sense of self.
Book: Golden Chains
Bae takes a long and difficult journey. As a gregarious apprentice warrior, she sees her instructor murdered, she is captured, brainwashed, sexually abused but ultimately rescued and returned to something like herself. She becomes a capable warrior, a historian and her Order's memory and conscience.
Book: Mortality, Immortality, Bloodlust, Life
Emma is a New England vampire, bitten at the age of just 16 and an immensely powerful, if undisciplined telepath. Accused of 'broadcasting her thoughts like a radio' on more than one occasion, she becomes a very developed, mature young woman and something like a conscience for her House. An Anglophile American with a passion for tea, Emma leads her own coven of vampires in the later books and makes a huge personal sacrifice to protect her family.
Characters have to be somewhere, so where?
Books: Heart, Mind and Honour series
Based on real cities such as Budapest and fictional ones like Ankh-Morpork, Ossmoss and Paloss are the capital cities of the Yashoun Empire. Built on either side of a river and linked by the Seven, later Eight, Bridges, the Twin Cities are complementary but opposite: Ossmoss the fashionable home of the elite, the Emperor and the great temples; Paloss the grubby working engine room. Death, adventure, betrayal, fun, drink and romance flow like the River Dithithindil through a frequently-visited location.
Books: Millennium Short Stories, Princess
This never-named city in the English Midlands started with the Marshland Estate, home to Charlie. As Millennium Short Stories expanded into an anthology, the city grew to accommodate the other tales and the other characters, gaining a City Centre, a shopping precinct, outlying villages and then a university and student district for Princess, as I needed a fictional location to base the true story in. If you look carefully in Princess, you can spot some of the locations pop up again, including Marshland.
One of the few real places in my books, Abingdon is a riverside market town in Oxfordshire, somewhere I've worked a few times and always liked visiting. Although the hair salon, mental health clinic and some of the road names have been altered, I've used it as a base for Princess instead of the actual Hampshire town where the real people that the characters are based on live.
The most famous vampiric addresses in the world are surely Castle Dracula in Transylvania and the Count's House DeVille in Purfleet. But with seven Houses, or families of vampires (Dracula, Nosferatu, Chihuateteo, Impundulu, Aswang, Soucouyant and New England), they all need somewhere to sleep and rest in safety. The older Houses naturally have well-established and well-hidden refuges but for newer Houses or those travelling to new areas need places to stay: House New England have a townhouse in Albany (later New York); House Soucouyant have everything from a chateau in Central France to a shack in a shanty town in Haiti.