twl playlist, track 4: “sign of the gypsy queen”

A surprising number of teenagers in 2019 (some them, no doubt, encouraged by hit films like Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman) are fans of 70’s and 80’s rock.  So, too, is Alyx, the Feisty Teenage Heroine of This Wasted Land, my latest young adult dark fantasy novel.


To go along with that, I set up the table of contents for TWL as a “playlist,” and named each chapter after a hard rock song.  Each relates to their chapter in some way, whether it evokes the mood, mirrors events, reiterates themes, or simply inspired it.  You can find posts about other songs on the playlist here.

It’s Halloween, so let’s get spooky, shall we?


Track 4 of TWL is “Sign of the Gypsy Queen,” which appears on The Nature of the Beast, an album by the underappreciated 80’s pop-metal band April Wine

“Sign” warns of the imminent destruction of a small town, possibly in the Old West, as foretold by “a woman who knows.”  I always interpreted the song as being that the “Gypsy Queen” is a sorceress or witch who causes the calamity that the singer must escape.  That ties in nicely with the character of Freydis, whom Alyx struggles against in TWL

Lightning smokes on the hillrise
Brought the man with the warning light
Shouting loud you had better fly
While the darkness can help you hide
Trouble’s comin’ without control
No one’s stayin’ that’s got a hope

I chose “Sign” as the title for the fourth chapter of TWL because most of that chapter depicts how Alyx meets her future boyfriend Sam in a record store (vinyl is a thing again) where he works.      

I pulled out an album, checked out the cover. In the upper left corner: April Wine.  Must be the band’s name. At the bottom, the album title: The Nature of the Beast.  The rest of it was a big photo of a guitarist rocking out, but instead of being a normal guy, he had a tiger’s head.

nature of the beast

That image–of the tiger-headed man–is significant because it’s the first of a few indirect references in the book to the rakshasa, a shapeshifting demonic entity, capable of creating powerful illusions, from Hindu myth.  The look of the rakshasa was cemented in the imagination of millions of gamers (such as Sam) by this illustration from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons:   


Rakshasas are ruled by Ravana, the antagonist of the epic poem The Ramayana, a major influence on TWL.  More about that some other time. 


Kenton Kilgore writes killer SF/F for young adults and adults who are still young.  In his latest novel, This Wasted Land, high-school senior Alyx Williams learns that witches are real when one attacks her and her boyfriend Sam, dragging him off to a nightmare world where Alyx must go to get him back.  

Kenton is the author of Lost Dogs, the story of the end of the world as seen, heard–and smelled–by a dog.  He also wrote Dragontamer’s Daughters, like Little House on the Prairie…with dragons!  With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature.  Kenton also published Hand-Selling Books to help authors better their sales.   

Follow Kenton on Facebook for frequent posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction.  You can also catch him on Instagram.

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