I really like your style. Where are
you getting such great ideas?
Thank you for the compliment.
The overall plot of a novel simply occurs to me, often in a rather startling
and exhilarating fashion. I’ve been a fan of Erik’s since I was
eleven and though he faces obstacles aplenty in my stories, he overcomes them.
Working through a specific scene is achieved by blocking out the world and
mentally putting myself into 360 degrees of the action. As to the writing
style, that’s just me hacking away at the computer.
Why the roaming clock
on the website’s homepage?
The clock is a tribute
to Erik the Magician - compliments of the Webmaster, Scott.
Oh, Etienne, I become
richer in knowledge reading each one of your books. Now I anticipate the next
one. Do you have plans for these disciples to use their powers in the next
I love Torossian and
he is my hero in 'The Disciples'. Can you please describe Torossian's physical
being? I keep imagining different body forms while reading. I want him to
be like Erik, deformed and bruised but handsome and sexy.
Torossian looks like
a young man - originally rather angular facial features and more or less minus
body hair until it starts to develop. There are two concepts of him in the
Art Galley on the website. Stressed or angry he can move in a rather crab-like
fashion. Anna thinks him very appealing - and Christine was close to having
a physical intimacy with him in 'The Bloodline'. So yes, he projects an odd
but alluring aura. Plus he's more intelligent than people assume. He likes
listening. Personally, I really appreciate that he levitates. "Mind over
I'm confused that Isidore
does not want to put an end to early death. I can't imagine you would be any
prouder reaching this fouth book and putting 100% of yourself, mind and body
into this. How do you inhale all this knowledge for this book? How do you
even begin? Where do you get your information? It's like you lived it all…sometimes
I feel you have!!
Hopefully your reading
has now disclosed that Isidore was from the very start developing a formula
to not only control the aging world population, but send humankind on an evolutionary
leap forward. Something similar to the Cambrian period when life exploded
on this planet. In the next two books we'll see where some of this DNA bloom
sends us. Erik will be particularly taxed. He'll have to adapt.
My personal pride in
writing is about all I have to boost morale. That and the few people that
enjoy my work and take the time to tell me so. I am still very much an unknown
author. I do feel a sense of satisfaction that I haven't written short little
novellas, I've written books. I don't know that I've lived the information
in my stories - writing them is an experience in one sense, and that experience
gets internalized. I love history, science, free thinking, life in general.
Research is accomplished mostly through reading and interviewing people who
lived in Persia or France. Raoul’s self-demolition was written after
I spoke with the local Fire Chief. Asked lots of questions and let my imagination
I think you must be
as fascinating an individual as Erik. Are you really living in a Cathedral
Cave, or is that some kind of analogy?!?
The Cathedral Cave is
an analogy, a very apt one. It's more or less where my mind sees me as I write
my stories. I actually live in a house in Southern California. Front door,
back doors, kitchen, etc.
keep putting out books this fast, you must be working constantly on your writing.
I'm going to have to get a Nook, but I still love to hold a hard cover book
and turn pages, and there's that very special 'book smell'. Don't you think?
I'm sure you would agree with me on this correct?
Laughing. I don’t
own a Kindle, a Nook, or a Sony Reader. (Barely computer literate.) I do,
however, have a loft/library full of books.
After reading The Disciples
of the Night, I can't help but think with all the knowledge and information
you have about Persia, France, etc...you must have this in your background
and in your blood. Any comments?? I was also thinking, imagine if a movie
was made from The Return of the Phantom, a producer would then have 3 books
to follow! If three books are a trilogy what is 4 books???
Anyone can conduct research,
but not everyone will carefully wash off the veneer and isolate the truth.
I have never been to the Middle East. No thoughts about a movie. I’m
writing books. I believe a fourth novel would make a series.
Have you read the “Shades
of Gray” series? I would assume you would not read these books…am
No, I haven't read any
of the "Shades of Gray" books and don't plan on buying them. While
I'm writing my own novels, reading other writers interferes with my concepts.
That probably sounds strange, but most stories don't have what I want and
they leave me frustrated. So, I write what I want to read: Action, mystery,
preternatural suspense, erotica.
What’s your medical
Trauma and abnormal
psychology. I've also worked with veterans who have sustained extensive facial
and throat injury...many do not do well. The ability to communicate playing
a key factor.
Why aren’t you
For a number of reasons
- mostly I’m trying to remain creatively unscathed by the Internet.
People are amazingly critical of honest work that's takes me literally years
to produce. I discovered how quickly negativity sucks a writer dry, turned
off the bilious faucet, and retreated. No thanks. Glad you're enjoying "The
Disciples", remember it's basically a transition book. When I originally
mapped out The Theater of the Lost I realized there was a whole novel lying
somewhere between "The Tale" and" The Theater". Ha, joke
was on the author.
Torossian is still my
hero. We all have to have new heroes and he is such a wonderful part of Erik.
To me he’s so much more the 'knight in shining armor'. I think Torossian
will thrive in the next books along with the vampires. And upon reading the
last chapter, I'm sure Muustah will play a big part in the next two books.
What do you think? Am I correct? I praise you and this book and will read
it again and again. SUCCESS TO YOU, ALWAYS!!
Be assured, Torossian
and the vampires are all through The Theater of the Lost. Erik has a time
wrangling agendas, especially given the worldwide situation of near catastrophe.
Book number six is still a distant foggy project. I do jot down notes as they
occur to me, but I'm far from a developed plot for that sixth novel. You are
such a wonderful artist, think we could have your interpretation of what Torossian
looks like? Just asking. (Chuckle.)
Christine does not do
much for me in this book. She is so modern day. She fends for herself and
I am not use to this personality of control and confidence. I will adjust.
Although I certainly wish I could throw a punch like her. She is strong but
as in the last chapter gives in to her love. Will she become more of a partner
to Erik in the next two books?
In my first novel Christine
presents herself as confident and sure of what she wants. She longs to be
with Erik, she desires that he alone raise his children, and she's willing
to best Raoul and Erik’s objections to make her goals a reality. In
novel # 3, her initial education involved magazines showing her the more pronounced
role of a modern female. These efforts by Thayer and Isidore hit home. In
novel # 4 she likes this present-day world (what little she's seen of it).
Her feminine wiles remain strongly focused on Erik. In # 5, The Theater of
the Lost, the pair will better define themselves, and in # 6, The Concert
of the Mysteries, Christine will once again be instrumental in bringing Erik
back from the brink of madness. I’m happy to read any thoughts you care
to share, my friend. I have a tough time writing about her, so if I succeed
in any manner, I'm quite happy.
Your descriptions of
lovemaking are over the top! The last two chapters have Erik in what seems
to me "a coming out (or in) party". He desperately needs to experience
more of his first life. He needs to become more of that suave and romantic
Phantom that we know and love. I (as a reader of all your books) am not use
to his new life. You’re the maestro, and I am positive he will retrieve
all of his characteristics in the next two books. Am I correct? Will I once
again thrive, tongue licking my lips, on his seductive personality?
In this last book Erik
is still a teenager. Memories of his first life, like movies he remembers
and played in, influence him. But he must go forward and participate in experiences
that will help him to develop a suave romantic character. He almost instinctively
knows how to push Christine's buttons as well as please her. He will grow
in the next two novels, as will she.
I finished ‘The
Disciples' and I am sorry that it has ended, but once again, it has too...so
until the next, here are my thoughts. This story is strong and flows with
significant knowledge. As I read I felt your expertise of the content's authenticity.
The foreign phrases you insert into the text (right along with their meanings)
add color and dimension. They give an added cultural insight into the characters.
Upon reading the last two chapters, my thoughts deviated completely to the
old lovemaking thoughts between Erik and Christine. What a powerful ending
to get these two back together again. Erik seems to have developed a more
confident sexual self after his first (shall I say insertion) with Christine.
They are both a determined pair of hungry entities. You took me by surprise
completely with these two. Especially upon Torossian and Muustah-Veetnah's
entrance! Kind of like two young lovers caught in the dirty deed. Didn't Torossian
see this in advance?
Thanks for the compliments
regarding the novel, especially the last two chapters. Torossian does not
always anticipate coming events, especially while enjoying a brand new wife.
Anna is his love and as a newly wed, she takes his focus. By the way, just
a head's up, I do not consider sexual intimacy between two consenting adults
a 'dirty deed'. This form of congress seems more a mystery of submission to
me; a precise moment of conjoining that allows humans to rise to a very special
book covers are magnificent! Incredible! Your artwork is amazing. I was actually
thinking about your artwork reproduced on canvas. You should sell them as
a standalone next Nov at the Street Faire and online. As you’re aware,
your followers love reminisces of what they’ve read long after they’ve
laid the book to rest. If canvas is well received, then print Posters…they’re
thought of selling my artwork - don't know how I'd even approach replicating
a marketable product. The Webmaster finally talked me into buttons and tote
bags for the Street Faire...took years to convince me promotional items were
a good idea.
Is your name Venezuelan?
Do they know about you overseas?
The name is French-Portuguese.
I’m a U.S. citizen. Do seem to have a small but loyal group of readers...I'm
very grateful for each one and amazed they even know about me. More are outside
the US than domestic - interesting statistic. Perhaps because I'm not well
known, or it might be that with my medical background I write too graphically
for a particular taste. Respectfully, I believe human intimacy is a priority
- right up there with eating-sleeping-safety issues. Humans deprived of touch
and acceptance don't fair well. It's pretty much a given that I am a fan of
Gothic Horror. The environment (right alongside the characters) plays a dark
and moody component in my stories.
Any words about the
metaphysical in your books? I want to say how thrilled I was to see you introduce
Zoroastrianism into your story. I can only hope that vampires are not real,
but the fact that you had Muustah-Veetnah coming from a spaceship engendered
a “yippee” from me.
Sincere thanks for your
kind words. They are quite a compliment! Few readers understand why I entered
the metaphysical realm in my writing. Leroux went there – happily. Personally
I think the spiritual world is all around us; we're simply not attuned. Probably
because pragmatics takes up all our time. We need to work, eat, sleep, etc.
Erik is a dynamic personality. We are all many things, but he is akin to a
diamond with a hundred brilliant facets. In 2006 I took to writing about him.
His heart speaks so clearly to me. Working with
damaged soldiers I've met him many times.
Please don’t forget
to post your email announcement for the publication of The Disciples of
the Night. I love going back and re-reading what was sent to members of
your private email list.
ancient cemetery housed acres of monuments and grave covers, literally dozens
of elaborate moss covered statues in every manner of dramatic pose. the statue
that most intrigued the young man was that of a rather desolate woman. Lying
atop the grave of her lover, her weeping face obscured by her long marble
fingers, she seemed forever frozen in a most excruciating moment of anguish
and grief. At night the eerie figure was especially moving. Standing close
by, lantern in hand, it almost seemed as if she breathed from time to time
- sobbed occasionally - lost as she was in her inconsolable pain. To offer
the distraught woman a few hours of blind solace, the young man brought his
copy of The Disciples of the Night to the graveside. Patiently reading
chapter after chapter out loud, he failed to notice the pale nightwalker coming
to wait at the foot of a neighboring grave.
Touched at the visitor's
devotion, the inquisitive creature waited for the reading to conclude before
asking, in a most melodious voice, "Where does one purchase such a prize
as you and this book you read?"
Lifting the book, the
misguided comforter announced: “The Disciples of the Night, novel
number four from Etienne de Mendes, is available in the Phantom's Store at
would love to know your inspirations for wanting to write a sequel to The
Phantom of the Opera and more about yourself.
My experience with the Phantom began when I was a child. I was raised for
the most part by my paternal grandparents. Loving but strict Portuguese people.
Practically every good trait I can lay claim to comes from their upbringing.
On Saturdays, after chores, I got to watch movies. Spooky stuff was always
my favorite. One Saturday I saw a black and white version of "The Phantom
of the Opera" with Herbert Lom in the lead. At the end I sat there on
the couch – shaking, crying – moved right down to my worn sneakers,
stirred to a connection with this strange deformed man in a mask. He dies
in the end of that movie. It may well be that this movie caused me to go into
medicine. I know that in later years it played a part in my professional choices.
Of that I'm sure because deformity, gross injury, misalignment of any kind
has never troubled me when working with clients. I always see past the superficial
flesh...thank you, Erik! It's been decades and I now own a copy of the above-mentioned
movie. I've only been able to watch it once; it still has an effect on me.
After Lom’s performance I read the novel by Leroux many times. Books
are a great passion of mine. I honestly love them. One day in 2004, I was
driving down the road and saw a theater sign for "The Phantom of the
Opera". I was already well established in my life and hadn't thought
about Erik for a number of years. Across my mind that's all I saw, the words:
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. I sailed through an intersection and was a half-mile
down the road before I realized I'd thought of nothing else but those words.
When I saw the 2004 movie I came home and asked myself..."Ok, what has
to happen for Erik to start winning. Winning big. Winning everything."
Trust me, my medical background told me that such a turn of events would take
an enormous amount of personal work on his part, and some dyed-in-the-wool
loyal-to-the-end OG associates. I went back and re-read the book and started
making lists. Lists lead to sets of circumstances and the story started to
unfold. The chapters sat in a notebook until someone very close to me insisted
on reading it. I didn't start out wanting to be an author. Erik, and patients
like Erik, drove me there. In my career I’ve worked with US military
that have had their faces/throats destroyed in combat. Many do no do well.
The ability to communicate often plays a key factor. I’ll end with a
side note. On the scale of human needs, I place great priority on physical
intimacy. Humans usually do not fair well without acceptance and touch. Our
need for intimacy is right up there with food, sleep, and safety issues. Ingrained
and primordial - it should never be down-played.
of mirrors didn’t rotate? Why does yours?
Erik didn’t install
that particular mechanism in the caverns, but he put it to good use at the
chateau and will use it again in book five with yet a few more improvements.
When did Anna get her
first real look at Torossian?
On their first visit
to the island after that initial flight out of the airport. When they landed
Torossian stayed away, but his attraction to her brought him closer. I believe
he was pleasantly surprised to discover the his frightening appearance didn’t
seem to bother her at all.
he is undeniably loyal, Torossian is not charming or handsome. What is the
attraction for Anna?
She accepts that he’s
different and initially seems to adore her. She’s never been worshipped
and likes the feeling. With the passage of time, she’s drawn to his
raw animalistic nature, his very unique presence, his strength and concern
for his brother. Loves stirs when he leaves for Tehran and willingly volunteers
to place himself in harm’s way for someone else. All her feelings blossom
on the boat returning home. Anna is one of those straight arrows, always on
course, never wavering. (Good contrast to other characters.) She’s also
very honest and happy to voice that she reciprocates Torossian’s feelings.
The covers of the third
and fourth books are dark and murky, not like novels one and two. Is there
an underlying message?
All the covers reflect
Erik’s evolution. Red for his passion and willingness to emerge from
the dance studio. Orange-yellow represents a the vitality bestowed on him
by a wife, children, and Raoul’s title. Life has taken him on a bumpy,
unexpected journey. Purple, he’s reared in privilege on an estate –
a recreation. Looking through the window, wondering why his mind sees such
troubling visions. And now dark blue with Erik in a cavern – night so
easily embraces him, shelters him, hides his deformities. Let’s make
no mistake, he likes the treasure they’ve uncovered. He earned it and
wants to enjoy owning the wealth of a Shah. Now that he is seamlessly reunited
with the Phantom of the Opera, we can move on to The Theater of the Lost.
While Erik and Torossian
search for (and subsequently move the treasure) what is Rakesh doing?
I never considered what a century-leaping, continent-hopping Magus would be
up to…let me elaborate on the answer in the next installment.
Why do you spell Elburz
with an E when current maps spell the mountain range with an A?
Seemed more fitting
to choose the archaic spelling employed in the 1800’s. Gives the reader
a clue to the power the Phantom’s psyche holds on his modern day replica.
After Isidore and Nyah
burn the necrologies, what is inside the wooden crate in the hallway?
I deliberately left
the crate unexplained. I want to have a game with the contents of that box.
It will be posted in the coming months. Start thinking about what object might
decrease the number of guards necessary to guard our captives.
Once they’re on
the garbage scow and headed out to sea, why doesn’t Erik use Anna’s
satellite phone and arrange to get himself off the boat and headed back toward
The practice of working
through agents is deeply ingrained in his mind. This is one more heads-up
to the reader: There is only one Erik now, not two.
At the end of Chapter
41 why does Erik measure Christine while she sleeps?
He does not trust her
to stay put and marry him. A well-founded predicament given that in The Theater
of the Lost she resists a wedding ceremony until she sees what damage has
been done to his face. His reluctance to show her is rather compassionate
and will be elaborated on in the next book.
Is there any way to
pre-order your books? They are hard to get hold of in the UK.
At the moment books
cannot be pre-ordered before the publishing date and the printer’s first
run. After that they’re available. All the published books can be purchased
from the returnofthephantom.com website and most booksellers. We are currently
thinking about producing our own audio CD for use on car trips, treasure hunting
expeditions, laid-back rainy afternoons, etc. If I ever do get blessed with
a regular first-rate publisher pre-ordering should not be a problem. I have
seen the feature offered on Amazon.
Any idea when book number
4 will be published? And can you say something about your writing style?
I have no idea when
the fourth book will be published, probably 2011. Right now I'm in the middle
of writing the rough draft. For me it's like an oil painting. Buying the canvas
is the sitting down and writing the outline - mulling over plot. Research
slaps some basic thoughts into my brain - lots of notes and little chits scattered
about. Those notes get thrown onto the counter like all the “just purchased
paint pigments”. Unfolding the rough draft is where I start to sketch
in who does what and why…the story starts to take on real shape. Next
is the first re-write: whole sections are redefined, details added, and the
tale begins to breathe with life. Every re-write thereafter adds color and
more definition to the picture. Subtleties and contrasts (descriptive nuances)
are important to me. If I'm weaving several stories together, like in The
Tale of the Bloodline, the order of revealed information is a major priority.
This fourth book, The Disciple of the Night, weaves three stories,
not two, more interesting to my mind...you'll see why. I've sketched out a
fifth book, The Theater of the Lost (I like that title). Its plot
is one continuous tale centered around a place that Erik and Torossian have
built. The characters introduced have seemingly little to do with one another,
but we learn as the story goes on that their lives are all surprisingly intertwined.
I love folding plots and characters back upon themselves. Contrasting Erik
and Raoul in the first book was most enjoyable...in some ways they were similar
(love of Christine, a concept of public presentation, etc), but having Raoul
destroy himself and then allowing Erik to step into his shoes...well, does
it get any better for an author? In the second book I had that same sense
of glee bringing Leroux into the plot. Lots of thinking there. Can you tell
I love to write?
OMG. Your books are
great. When can we expect your next novel?
I'm doing research now.
Hopefully you will see it in the first quarter of 2012.