The Season of
The Torn Heart
novel by Etienne de Mendes
Answers Your Questions
just have one question about Julian. Was his deformity caused by the poison
that Sarah ingested early in her pregnancy or was it a genetic defect?
His deformities (both
physical and emotional) were threefold in cause. Yes, there was a genetic misalignment
due to the closeness of his parents, and the poison Sarah ingested trying to
end the pregnancy definitely had an ill-effect on her fetus. But Julian's psychosocial
disorder (both he and his grandfather are somewhat principled sociopaths) is
due to his deep-seated anger. He felt he'd been robbed of parents/family and
lied to, then in the monastery there was Brother Randolph's repeated victimization
to deal with. In the end Julian evolved into his own worst enemy. These were
difficult passages to write.
I am a cutter, non-active
at the moment, and want to know if I can write to you about your novels.
Please feel free to write
anything that you like to me. I have a medical background and will do my best
to understand. You have my word-of-honor that no one reads the emails I receive
but me, and no one has your email address but me. I respect privacy and want
my own, that's why there's nothing about me on the books. I let the main characters
to shine for better or worse, so I bow and give them center stage. If you ask
a question or make an observation, I'll always tell you how I perceive a subject,
but I may need a day or two to think things over. Also, I promise to tell you
if I'm feeling uncomfortable with a subject. So far nothing you've written about
makes me feel uneasy. One girl wrote that she wanted me to talk "dirty"
to her. I think I understand some of the basic needs people experience and what
motivated her request. I told her that she would have to go to another source
for that kind of response, as it wouldn't be coming from me.
How devoted to your writing
are you? Any recommendations for a young novelist? Do critics bother you?
I recommend that you don’t
stop writing, and that you never back away from re-writing and editing a piece.
I work on my stories in my spare time…right up to the point that my brain
turns to mush-o-lah. Then I stop, walk into a closet and scream, go get a snack
and a Pepsi. Readers have the advantage of plowing through a novel. We do not.
For me, some parts are authored out of sequence and then tied together to make
the whole. I don't know if other authors write straight from start to finish,
I just know that I don't. In the editing process I look for ways to make the
piece cohesive. This third book will be another novel I really do not want to
share with the world...even though it takes on another dimension of Erik’s
story. Oh, well...I'll live. I know I have a commitment to publish it. Once
it's out, I'll stick my fingers in my ears and not listen to the inane half
dozen people who want to criticize (another e-mailer tells me they are unhappy
jerks known as ‘flamers’). Try to ignore critics. They do not suggest
how to make stories better, except to say that we shouldn’t have written
anything in the first place. As to my devotion toward writing in the future,
I'll probably continue making up stories (I've done it for some time), just
won't publish. People have lots of different reasons for writing. These three
books are something I wanted to say, and the Phantom is a rich source to dip
into. It's important to me to know that someone else actually likes this stuff.
Thanks for your comments.
Would you put me in one
of your stories if I asked you?
Now, my friend, the problem
with putting your name on a character is that you would expect that individual
to reflect you...in some convoluted way or another. And
that's impossible, given that the stories are fiction and that I don’t
know you. Could you just be happy to see someone with your name and be content
with that? It is perfectly reasonable that you could write about you in a story
in the Writer’s Forum…that should be pretty easy. Come to think
of it, will we ever read part III of your Phantom adventure on the website?
Do you put people you
know into your books?
No. You are safe. Even
members of my family tell me they don't see themselves anywhere in the stories.
I tell them their absence is intentional. They're safe, too. I should be able
to come up with enough extraneous plots on my own. I do appreciate putting a
reader’s thoughts and questions up on the website. Since I don’t
really advertise, it helps others coming to the site to figure things out.
The second book is darker
than the first, and I understand why. All the scenes are very well written,
but I felt repugnant over Sarah and Michael’s actions. I understand why
Erik and the Daroga took the child away. If Erik had the love and attention
that baby had, he would have been so grateful and his life would have been so
very different. That is a sad thing I think, that the baby grew up to be such
a mean little kid. I enjoyed reading this novel for a second and a third time!
The repugnance you felt
is very interesting to me. There are so many facets of life that are truly odious
and the majority of people simple let them slip by without protest. I wanted
to show that we've been trained to stick our noses into the lives and bedrooms
of others and crank up our indignation, curious improper trait of our species.
I try to write about difficult subjects. There's a couple in Germany with four
children...the state keeps taking their little ones away and putting the father
in prison. They are quiet, law-abiding citizens, but their crime is Genetic
Sexual Attraction (GSA). Not murder, terrorism, drug smuggling. Anyway, I've
dealt with the subject of GSA as far as I intend to...the third book takes on
a different vein of world snobbery, especially in the field of science. It also
deals with the fact that we know very little about human memory and inherited
instinct. But then we're in our infancy of learning and the micro-universe lies
From Part Four, if you
ever wanted to, you could start a whole new story about the Daroga and Erik.
If you read the third
book, The Tale of the Bloodline, you will see that I very much want
to develop this relationship between Erik and Khalil. I have also tried to account
for some of the very strange things the Daroga says in Leroux's book. Hopefully
in an interesting, plot oriented fashion.
Part Three seems to be,
as far as I’m concerned, the last part about Erik and his family. I think
the way you handled everything was the only way it could be done. I was saddened
that Julian murdered Mrs. Edwards. He was indeed very remorseless, and I wonder
where it came from? It wasn’t like he hadn’t been loved when he
was a baby. I think God just left those parts out of him. I also think the story
shows that Erik had more character than his son and grandson.
In The Season of the
Witch I tried to show that Erik (despite his drawbacks) has more distinct
insightfulness and courage than his family. He doesn't care for society's rules,
but he does care what society will do to Michael and Sarah, and his grandson.
As to Julian, he wanted others, especially
his grandfather, to feel the pain he was experiencing. "If I hurt, you
can all hurt." In some ways, Julian was a product of what was done to him
from conception onward. He makes very poor choices, but given the physical and
environmental influences surrounding him, the odds were not in his favor...and
he paid the price for his actions. They all did to some degree. It is a very
difficult thing for an author to give up a main character like Louisa Edwards,
but it needed to be done to show Julian's nature and to put Erik into a state
of genuine grief. Did you know that Leroux was a heavy drinker and gambler?
I have often wondered about his level of intoxication when he wrote The
Phantom of the Opera. He aligns the macabre and the whimsical so very well.
There is a scene where Erik is playing violin to Christine in a graveyard...blows
me away every time I read it.
I loved the two different
descriptions of the weddings. Thought they were wonderful. I could picture them
in my mind’s eye so clearly. I could have been there – and wish
I had been. Where do you get the description of the jewelry, costumes, dances,
and other rituals? Did you make them up or did you do a lot of research? The
way I read it, I thought perhaps you have a friend who explained Jewish weddings
and the old time weddings of yesteryear. Regardless, they’re great!
I'll try to answer your
question as simply as I can: because of my background I know a lot about religious
rituals, social customs and medicine. No one needs to explain the particulars
of Jewish or Christian weddings and funerals to me. I grew up on a private estate
and have been around jewelers and other professionals all my life. What I don't
know for a story, I research. I did speak with a policeman and a local fireman
for the answers to several questions I had for the first book, The Return
of the Phantom. For the second novel I spent time looking up the 'why',
not the 'how', of several courtship and wedding rituals. My stories are fiction,
the plot and descriptions started in my head, then went to outlines, and were
finally placed into chapters. Writing a novel is a new experience for me, one
that I approach with enthusiasm for the social issues I feel strongly about.
Hope that helps.
Do you take into consideration
your reader’s thoughts? Could you write more about Erik’s past before
the Opera House?
Your opinions as a reader
help me decide where to put emphasis in the next story, or if I must trim a
scene...where to apply the scissors. What I think I'm hearing from you is that
Erik being human and tender is most appealing. He is an edgy, very specific
kind of predator. At times irrational if not outright insane, but he does his
best with what the past has brought him. You'll learn more about how I see his
upbringing in the third novel, and I hope...in a very entertaining way. I write
about difficult human situations, but they do not represent me in my personal
life. For example, I am not a serial killer or a sexual predator, but that doesn't
mean that I couldn't research the actions and motivations of those people and
write about those characters – especially if I want to point out a particular
trait or tendency.
Are you irritated when
people ask you questions about the Phantom’s children? The book is about
Erik and his life, not about his children. I think you’re very patient
with these people.
I don’t mind answering
questions about the characters. So far, the readers aren’t belaboring
any particular point about the children, and I remind them that they are free
to expound on a scenario and add to the Writer’s Forum on the website.
To be truthful, I’m surprised and more than a little humbled that anyone
would even bother asking about my work. The ones who hate what I write, have
(for the most part) channeled their caustic negativity towards those who will
listen…their railings tend to drain the glass of creative juice most efficiently.
So I ignore them, not because I think I can’t improve. I know I can, but
not every treatment of a subject sits in everyone’s different coffee cup
to perfection. (Some are writers themselves and still don’t get that an
effort is an effort.) As I write I will remain true to myself and hit the keyboard
about the subjects that move me to speak out. Right now, that’s Erik.
Can you please say something
about all the different interpretations of Erik out there?
Variety is the spice of
life. Everyone (author or reader) is entitled to his or her personal interpretation.
Some descriptions fascinate, others infuriate, and some are just plain lame.
But still, all are valid. I see him as deeply troubled, a genius, but very much
a man. Anyone who composes music possesses a certain degree of sensitivity.
I asked myself many times: What would have to happen for him to finally win?
When I started writing these three books I also wanted to address some of the
very human conditions I've come across (and have a little supernatural fun along
I understand about Erik,
the way you wrote about him in your answer. On the very first page when Erik
has written to his "Lonely Heir" he wonders/asks "who the hell
he is" and that made me think from the start that he has played so many
roles over his life that the real Erik is lost. But I still have this question.
When Erik is down in the dungeon where Julian has put him, he struggles to hang
on as the thought of his Christine being in another's arms makes him sick. But,
he told Louisa to come to him if she needed a man! And he had other minor affairs
at the Inn. How does he reconcile that in his mind? I know he doesn't care about
the ways of society, but how can he be so obsessive about Christine and yet
do this? And I have to tell you I was worried towards the end that he wanted
to die to be with Louisa. I couldn't imagine him wanting death, to leave Christine
behind. And I do like your Christine. She is strong, she takes care of her family
and she does not "need" anyone to take care of her - so different
from how many writers portray her. I am a huge fan and have read and reread
your site too many times to count. I love the other reader's questions and your
comments. It helped me, too! You are incredible!
If you understood the
dilemma of Erik’s having to wear so many mantles, then you understand
his exhausting walks and lonely search for an identity of self.
First, I don’t know that Erik ever did anything (except with Pascale)
at the Inn of the Marching Drum, but watch. I allude to that remarkable trait
twice in The Season. He has taught himself to simply stand back and observe.
Smelling like cigars, perfume, or hashish does not mean that someone participated
in anything themselves. It does say that they were in the room, or very close
by. I'll ask him, but you should probably know that he may chose not to answer
Next, Erik loves these women in the
way that he understands love. He is unique, an entity unto himself. He knows
what it is to feel dead inside. He doesn’t want Louisa to feel that way.
Easing her pain is very important to him. And lastly, in the bottom of the oubliette
he thinks about the only woman he ever considered wife (even though they never
had a legal ceremony). Down in the muck, thoughts of Christine give him the
strength to fight a little longer. She feeds his reserves again when she lets
him argue with her after Louisa’s death. You are right; she is both strong
and wise, but she didn’t start out that way. Erik takes a mistress, she
doesn’t care. Erik’s first sexual needs were so exasperating that
he considered having them with a corpse. She doesn’t care. Louisa leads
him into the world of men and women, and she still doesn’t step into the
role of judge. They agreed in The Return to not judge each other, to
simply accept what the other felt or did…as if they were reading a story.
They actually meant it. To ask Erik to behave in a way that you or I would consider
more acceptable simply cannot be done. We have not had his life experience,
nor have we the particular level of genius he’s walking around with in
his head. To me he’s intriguing because he is so different, but then many
men have loved more than one woman for any number of reasons…and vice
versa. When a shark bites, it bites. Read again the bottom of page 237 in The
Season. Erik is his own brand of predator. In my stories Christine evolves,
she grows…and uses her experiences to put Erik, the Angel of Music, into
her life and keep him there. Quite adaptive really.
Erik nearly goes nuts
thinking of any other man even being near his Christine. How can he justify
sleeping with Pascale for all those years, having a child with her and telling
Louisa he loves her and come to him if she wants to be intimate? Double standards
Your question is extremely interesting. First and foremost, let us be honest
about Erik. He does not give a rat's whisker for the morals and standards of
society. He considers humankind to be be basically full of hypocrites; with
their inward ugliness safely hidden from view they have rejected him, and he
in turn has scorned them. He does have a few tender friends who have managed
to chip their way through his defenses. He cares for them in ways that cause
me to pause. Getting inside his head was no easy matter. I've lost count of
how many times I've read Leroux's original novel. In The Return of the Phantom
Erik is willing to share Christine with Raoul, because Raoul can provide stability
for her and has raised her lot in life. It is only when he sees her slipping
away from this world that he reveals himself. Even still he refuses to step
forward and claim her...that is what the whole first book is about. Christine
goes from mouse to champion, from a girl ga-ga over an aristocrat to Erik's
surprising sworn confidant and confederate. The top of page 22, when Erik whispers
to her his private thoughts is a very special moment to my thinking...whatever
he says to her, his words are held private even from us.
In the second book, Erik has evolved in that he has assumed a false identity
for Christine's sake. He wrestles and struggles with his more dominant need
to isolate himself and those he cares for. If the world cannot reach them, the
world cannot hurt them! Add to that the fact that as this false "Count"
he searches constantly for precious autonomy. Who is he? Does he define himself
simply as Christine's husband? As father to these children he's gladly given
her? The answer is an emphatic "no" and his enemies appear from within
the family structure and without. Strictly for entertainment purposes, I brought
Victor back, but then Erik has to face Sarah and Julian (each contorted in their
own way)...and a woman who threatens to betray all he has tried to build up...Pascale.
For the first time in his life there is a female who has not run away because
of how he looks (even Christine was initially frightened out of her socks).
Plus, Pascale - in her own needs - offers an intriguing drug that adds to his
"manliness". (By the way, the descendant of their daughter is a main
character in the third book.)
These are complex people who do not fit into the cookie-cutter mold of Christianity,
Judaism, Islam, etc. They are humans with horrendous selfish faults and they
are capable of great strengths. Society's guidelines are there, to be followed
or rejected (just as real people in the world do constantly, everyday.) Before
I close, I do want to say one thing about Christine. I believe that she becomes
a very courageous person, she is so glad to have Erik finally in her life, to
have him everyday in some degree or another, that she counts herself lucky.
In many ways, she is the most unsung of heroines! Hopefully, the third book
will address some of the praise due her.
Please say something more
about Michael and Sarah’s relationship. The epilogue left me with questions.
Seeing Michael so unattached
and so sad was breaking Sarah’s heart. She wanted to mend the hurt inside
him anyway possible.
Were parts of this book
difficult to write?
Trust me when I tell you
that it takes raw courage to write explicit love scenes. My sister says that
in today's world people want to read about intimacy, but they don't want to
admit that they do. It makes me smile from ear to ear every time someone tells
me they had an emotional response to a scene. My work is not porn, but even
pornography serves an excellent purpose...we use it all the time in fertility
clinics and to help couples - who for some reason cannot be intimate anymore
- to touch each other again.
As a writer you must feel
some of this. What, if any, of these dark passages touched you?
Every time I read the
scene where Julian dies beside Erik in the bottom of the oubliette, I am moved.
The pain they both experienced at that moment tears into the mind. All of Erik's
hopes and dreams for the boy – shot to hell, and Julian never really grasping
the bigger picture. Michael didn’t know the boy, so his grief was delayed…but
Erik’s was quite acute.
Do you think any of the
ghosts on the cover of the season are reaching out to you?
Who knows? I’m not
worried about it. Welcome to the party.
What do you think about
the cruel review that was just posted on amazon.com?
I'm very grateful for
the people who absolutely don't want my artistic heart chewed up and spit out
by a cold and callous world. We both know there is already way too much sorrow
on this planet. The reviewer actually invited me to join them on another website
for discussion. I turned them down.
Did you believe that Pascale
semi-blackmailed Erik into having a relationship with her?
You're actually the first
person who has picked up on the fact that Erik was being coerced into having
an affair. He probably could have figured a way out of the situation had he
tried harder. But in some respects who could blame him? Pascale (I really like
that name) was the first woman who just simply accepted his deformity. Something
tells me that his title and wealth were a definite attraction for the widow.
I know you believe that
descriptions of violence are widely accepted by the public, while descriptions
of human intimacy are hypocritically frowned on. What are your thoughts now
with this second book out?
I recently had an opportunity
to watch the movie Quills and had to chuckle over the fact that the French in
the late 1700’s were debating how much openness about sex should be allowed
in literature and plays. We seemed to have progressed very little. Violence
then and now is considered entertaining. They had the very public event of the
guillotine with its all-encompassing torments. One girl in the movie gets her
back ripped raw in front of a jeering crowd. No one bats a single eyelash over
all the blood and the taking of lives right and left. Geoffrey Rush plays the
main character and to his great credit there is a shot of him in full frontal
nudity. Coming from the field of medicine, I can assure you that if we would
just get over some of these "church bred" hang ups and look at the
real nasty villains of the day, I would be happier. Want to hear some real dirty
words? Cancer. How's that? Malignant sarcoma. Diabetic Ketoacidosis. Necrotizing
Fasciitis. That last one is particularly vile. I once cared for a patient who
spent the last three days of his life in excruciating pain dying from it.
You did this book in four
sections – something like the four seasons?
Because the story spanned
such a long time period, I thought that the mechanism would help change the
focus a little. I could have broken The Season of the Witch into two sections
and sold them as two books with larger print. I didn't do that because I wanted
this portion of Erik's life to be as cohesive as possible. I’m glad the
titled sections worked for you. As to the third section: Erik and Julian's relationship
is the primary plot of the book and we had to have incest to get to Julian.
If the child hadn't been Erik's own blood he never would have taken the measures
he did to protect it. Never.
Will you please write
a fourth book?
If I wrote a fourth book
about Erik it would be "The Disciples of the Night". I have only a
vague idea where that book would start, because I know where The Tale of the
Bloodline ends. Yikes! To even begin mulling over a fourth book boggles the
mind. Thanks for thinking that I am such a prolific author.
I am so amazed that you
email individual fans. I really appreciate your superb talents! What a privilege
it is to correspond with an author. Truly, not many authors would email phans
like you do. I don't think they would make the time, let alone remember each
e-mailer corresponding to them. You make us feel exceptionally special and honored.
I sincerely mean every word of that. Thank you!
Please don't make too
much of me emailing you. Not every reader wants a dialogue. Remember, I am just
a person and I benefit, too. I will not forget those that stuck by me as I wrote
these books. Being something of an isolationist helps me write about Erik, it
also gives me time for emails.
How do you think of all
these twists and turns? Is your mind boiling like 24/7?
No, I am not thinking
plot 24/7. I sleep and do other things. Frequently a picture inspires me, sometimes
music. I found a really creepy set of stairs yesterday that helped me work on
a scene today. Spooky sounds are always good, and they are all around us. Writing
the plot is not the problem...it's trying to get the words right to describe
the plot. Why say wonderful, when the word is really wondrous? Or underwear,
when it's really silken gossamer chemise? Sometimes I look at a segment of plot
in progress and realize that a particular facet has not been explained well.
I know why it’s there, but the circumstances that brought it there haven’t
been well accounted for. Point in hand, why Victor chose to hurt his daughter,
even in death, was one of those weird little quirky things I stumbled upon.
Working through that in my mind brought about some nice little touches to the
Do you believe in the
No, but I believe that
what goes around comes around. We tend to reap what we sow and evil begets evil.
That may sound harsh on my part, but I have seen a great deal of insidious evil
in my life. I don't believe there is a physical devil. I know that the wickedness
humans accomplish is real and that there are disasters Nature creates. I place
responsibility for what happens on planet Earth squarely on humans or Nature.
But it certainly was interesting writing about a disciple of the devil. It’s
Do you remember all the
scenes you write in detail?
To be honest, my thoughts
travel elsewhere after I write a scene or finish a book. I complete the current
area (often knowing I will return to it many times for a re-write) and then
scurry on down the road. I retain overall plot and some particulars. If you
ask a specific question, I might recall its circumstances immediately, or I
may have to go back and look at the section. There's just so much that can be
in my head at one time.
How can I make my characters
You might try thinking
about a person you know that has similar character traits to the individual
you’re writing about. (Combinations of people are totally acceptable.)
Write down four or five characteristics...then employ those characteristics
into plot-action. I'll give it a try...hmm...ok I've got my most interesting
male in mind, and no, it's not this fellow de Mendes, he's too reclusive.
1. extremely intelligent and observes a lot (“Yesterday, you wore the
green shirt...now again today. Blue streaked in arterial blood is not your favorite
2. dry sense of humor that comes up at odd moments (after someone trips over
something: "Gee, I wish I could do that.")
3. loves action movies but isn't exceptionally physical himself (“You
make the popcorn, I made it last time. And don't forget the butter.”)
4. kind hearted, chokes up at sad stories and over injured animals or people
(no example needed, it's just plain touching to see when it happens.)
5. generous with his time (Stops to ask staff all kinds of "I'm interested
in your life" type of questions.)
Did Erik love Pascale?
I don't think Erik ever
got to the point of loving Pascale. He was more in awe of her and her acceptance
– while it lasted. There is a dangerous side to life, and a brighter safer
side. For me Erik’s bright side is the women who cared about him.
Did Sarah love her husband?
How long did she stay drugged to cooperate, years? Any personal surprises as
you wrote it?
Sarah was only drugged
for the first three days of her marriage...so that she would accept Claude not
only as a friend, but as a mate. She is deeply and truly in love with two men.
A phenomenon that occurs quite often in humankind...more often than we'd like
to admit, even if it’s done only mentally. Unfortunately, The Season of
the Witch was already a very hefty volume and since my stories are about Erik,
I wrote very little about Sarah’s life with her husband. The surprise,
at least for me, was when I realized how much Claude loves Michael. Claude is
very much his mother's son, loyal and true. You might want to re-read the epilogue.
It deals with those three more closely.
I was so upset when the
gardens burned to a crisp! I wanted the flames to stop so bad that I could have
grabbed a shovel and helped them.
Sorry, the charring of
the grounds served a specific purpose in the plot. Anything lesser would not
have involved the entire de Chagny community as a united front...and I so wanted
to play around in the seance with an animal burning right outside the window.
Nothing But The Dead, indeed! Bijan didn't know what he was messing with when
he came into a paranormal event with Lucretia rocking at his side. He was not
ready for that degree of metaphysical transference. Ha! Thanks for saying that
you thought my seance scene was "wicked awesome", I worked very hard
on it. That Raoul helped by supplying information was a nice twist in my opinion.
Who says that "dead" means a character never shows up in the plot
In your mind did Erik
do everything he could to help Julian?
Yes, Erik made every effort
to protect and save the boy. I wanted to write a story where Erik had to react
to a flesh and blood replica of himself. I created that third section deeply
into Erik's character. (Real Jekyll-Hyde situation there.)
Any suggestions about
story components for a fledgling writer?
Well, I certainly understand
the predicament of plot and plot choices. Today I ploughed through the notes
of a chapter in the third book that I decided was just plain boring. I know
I have to keep the characters moving forward. I tagged the chapter with a note
that in the next go-round, I will definitely spice things up. Really, it almost
put me to sleep. Action, we need action! (Shouted through director's bullhorn.)
I am all for letting the reader know why something is happening (and the emotions
behind that why), but through action. Lets have movement tell the tale. If an
area is boring add a degree of fire…or comedy.
It saddened me that the
I wouldn't wave goodbye
to the Daroga just yet. He's very much in the third book. His relationship with
Erik is one I want to look at more closely.
Is Michael’s continued
attraction to Sarah the results of a spell involved with eating an eclair or
Just before the carnival
ghost-binding we learn that there is a ring in Michael’s pocket he’s
wanted to give her for years. In the epilogue we learn he still stays away on
trips abroad and yet is gladdened every time he returns home. Sounds like we
are looking at conflicted self-sacrifice...and that is not spell or magic...that
is love. However, one could argue that love is magic and I would readily concede
the point. No, the spell of the powder in the éclair wore off. Real sentiments
were there to carry the attraction forward. He just loves her, and she loves
him. To my thinking the remarkable character is Claude...who confesses at the
end how deeply he loves them both. I guess there are some who would say, "Now
there's a tragedy." Seems more like a triumph of spirit on Claude’s
part, albeit an unusual one.
Bravo, you put Leroux
back into the story!
To my knowledge, no one
has actually put Leroux back in the story as a character. He is definitely in
the original novel...that's for sure. In the 1911 book he runs around assuring
every Parisian who will listen that the Opera Ghost is real. It was great fun
writing the fourth section of The Season of the Witch. Thanks for letting me
know that my book could affect a male. Up to this point all the reviews are
Did any scenes make you
When Armand takes Sarah's
hand and places it strategically under the table was the first. That actually
happened to someone I know...and the reaction was very much the same. Mental
turmoil leading to, "Huh? What? What the...!" The second was one of
my favorite scenes in the book: when the ghost throws a knife out of the pantry-closet
and the flour descends like snow, bodies pile up on the floor in everyone’s
effort to run away. I wish more comedic ideas would come to me. Leroux depicted
Erik with quite a sense of humor and I laugh every time I read the original
novel. What an experience. Also, I want to really thank you properly for thinking
that my interpretation of Erik, though more humanized, is not "fluffy".
I tried very hard to look at the core of the man based on what I could discern.
Ultimately, every Phantom author is left to interpret Erik the way they see
him. I think we should all respect that.
What do you do about mean
If you want to understand
why a writer would be reluctant to publish their stories, read some of the negative
reviews on Amazon. They are rife with exaggerations and misrepresentations:
for example complaining about the spelling of “couer” while using
“phan” and “phiction” in the review. It seems that most
of these people never consider encouraging others, probably because they never
received any encouragement themselves. Independent publishing is a good way
for an unknown author to get into print, as magically binding books is not available.
Most of the negative reviewers I’ve read rigidly do not allow for any
creative interpretation of Erik other than the cookie-cutter we've been handed
for decades. I also think that some are trying to gain recognition for themselves
by climbing on the backs of new authors. I like a lot of movies and books that
the reviewers are negative about. Point in hand, The Season of the Witch just
got a one-star review from someone who likes Gerry Butler's interpretation of
the Phantom. She recommends that no one who enjoys Butler’s performance
read my book. (I personally think he might like it, but that's just a guess
based on his other works.)
As a writer, have you
ever created a place, outside of Erik's world, that you find your mind returning
to in times when you feel sad or alone or perhaps just really tired of everything?
Right now I only write
about Erik and his world, even though I have been asked by two different emailers
to consider writing about vampires. At the moment, that is not a viable option
as we still have a third book to produce.
This story is so different
from The Return of the Phantom. Any comments?
Different story, different issues…especially
for Erik. It's not so much that I wanted to write about the fast train ride
into hell that a soul can take, (or the long walk out), as much as I wanted
to explore what we see in the mirror. For Erik the reflection was Julian, for
Sarah it was Michael. Within the chamber of mirrors we can rise and we can fall.
M'wahaha. Also, as far as I know...no other author anywhere has ever
had Leroux meet his own creation. The third book will follow a different process.
All three novels are their own stories. There is no ghost in the third book,
we will be dealing with other problems there. To my knowledge I only left two
things hanging to be picked up in the third piece of the series.
I loved Julian as a little guy, now
I hate him. He went from mischievous to progressively more violent. Why did
you do this?
Some mental disorders do not surface until puberty. Don’t forget that
Julian was poisoned in utero, like a mother that's doing crack cocaine; her
unborn fetus is also receiving it. Also, life events he cannot control cause
him anger as they pile up around him. Julian doesn't have the amazing intelligence
his grandfather possesses. Besides, his character needed to evolve. Factors
working against Julian and Erik helped to drive the plot.
I think Claude is just such an amazing
young man. I relate to him on so many levels. I find it sweet that he waited
for Sarah, that he still loved her even when her heart was yearning for another.
But couldn’t he have done something else besides drug Sarah on their wedding
Given her astounding and persistent attraction to the morally forbidden, I think
it was rather clever of Claude and Erik to use Pascale’s drug on her.
It seemed to work and pave a way for a more acceptable lifestyle. There was
also an unknown factor facing them: How much of her unholy affinity for Michael
was driven by the ghost’s influence? You tell me.
How could you have let Erik have an
affair with Pascale when he truly loves Christine?
Erik is struggling for autonomy and
a sense of himself. Christine has him romping around playing the Count de Chagny
every day. The groundwork for his dilemma is laid out in the prologue. Don’t
blame me if Erik had an affair…he strolled out on his own. Pascale is
the only woman who just simply accepted his deformity. (Erik's riches and adopted
title got him further with a woman of nobility than his fame as a malformed
genius hiding in the Opera House. That scene was a deliberate snicker at the
snobbery of some aristocrats.)
Does Erik care about the child that
Pascale de Grasse will not let him see?
Yes, very much. He places a paid spy
within Pascale’s household to watch his daughter for him. If I wrote about
Erik's feelings for that child and his perception of Pascale, my book would
have grown exponentially (and its already a hefty volume.) The descendent of
that child plays an important part in the third book: The Tale of the Bloodline.
In a very twisted way, she will meet the Phantom of the Opera.
Are you condemning the Catholic Church
for ignoring its long history of child abuse? Was the travesty that happened
to Julian a slap in the face to priests of the Catholic religion?
There are men of all religions that
abuse their power...not just those in the Catholic Church. Muslims, Jews, Christians…none
have a totally innocent past, tough they would like the world to think they
do. I hate the exploitation of children...that's what I was trying to say. Take
your vows and practice your faith you men of the cloth! You’re setting
examples that others look to.
There are some pretty raw emotions
in this book. I’m shocked, but in a good way. I feel like I’ve been
thrown to the mountaintops and delivered to the darkest depths. You can really
tell a story, Sir. Will you say something more about Julian’s role in
In the second novel I wanted to explore
Erik's reaction to an outcast child of his own flesh and blood – one that
was marred irreparably. Very deep process on my part, and as you can see...Erik
was quite torn over the whole process. Thank you for telling me that I can spin
a story. For a new author, it means a great deal. I have tried not to shy away
from difficult subject material. (At least Erik isn't henpecked or physically
beaten in this book, he is himself...a person who sacrificed a great deal for
the love of Christine and his children, a person of enormous class and great
When The Season of the Witch came out (“went live”),
you sent an announcement to some of your fans. Would you post it here so my
friends can enjoy it?
Certainly: High atop a stony mountaintop,
in an ancient and decrepit castle, crashing thunder rolls above the laboratory.
Through the intermittent bolts of lighting illuminating the granite walled room,
Dr. Frankenstein and his faithful servant, Igor, stand frozen. Straining to
look up through the silver planes of rain beating down upon them. Above them
the monster, the creation, the hope of mankind's victory over death has moved
and is still moving. "It's alive! It's alive!" screams Frankenstein.
Quickly they tighten the tension on the rattling chains that hold the iron stretcher
- ordering the apparatus to retract and lower its precious cargo toward the
laboratory's floor. From beneath the sheets, still a good fifteen feet above
their heads, a sodden bandaged hand appears. The fingers victoriously clutch
a 6 x 9 rectangular object.
The wretched stench of burned fat and
hair emanating from their patient permeates the air. Roiling their stomachs
with nausea. Gently the platform comes to rest upon the surgical table. An insane
and terrified Frankenstein rushes to see what object his creature grasps so
firmly in its slimy wet fingers. "A first edition copy of The Season of
the Witch?" Shaken to the bone from cold and disbelief, his tremulous voice
queries, "What could this mean? He knows how to read?"
Like a panther on the prowl, the grisly
and deformed Igor darts forward. Snatching the book from the physician's hand
his gooey tongue appears. Slowly licking the new ink from off the front cover,
he groans in ecstasy...then pauses. "I'll take this," he declares.
Leaping backward on the slick flagstones, his hunched back shape tucks the book
within the folds of his tattered green jacket. Patting the hidden object, he
stammers, "I've been waiting for this. Have to keep the tome safe."
Yes, The Season of the Witch went live today and I am officially in mourning.
You, however, can explore the catacombs of the website, and if you simply cannot
wait for Amazon to offer it, order a copy directly from the publisher, AuthorHouse.
It's so much cheaper! We will officially announce the winner of the contest
as soon as I can lay my grief stricken hands on the infamous webmaster. If you
would like to have your copy of book autographed, mail it to me and I'll send
it right back to you. It’s been a long and arduous road, but not to worry,
the plot of the third book of my trilogy is safely tucked away in my tattered
green jacket. M’wahaha. I will most likely answer all your questions at
night...when the spooks are out seeking vengeance.
We’re going to need a family
tree for the third book! Can you give us one?
OK, I’ll stick a small one in
it so you’ll know who’s who. Thanks for the idea.
Why didn’t Julian take his own
revenge out on Randolph?
He is the one who kills Randolph. The
Daroga (Julian’s godfather) slew the abbot.
Why does the ghost appear to only Sarah
and Julian? What is the connection there? And how come he refuses to leave the
property? And when he first appears to Julian he won’t speak to him, why?
Dear Troubled Soul, the ghost appears
to more people than Sarah and Julian. He is seeking revenge on Erik…so
he basically targets those most defenseless that Erik cares about. He is insecure
about straying from the place where he died, and he doesn’t want to loose
track of the Phantom. To be honest, I put no interpretation on why he didn’t
initially speak to Julian. Maybe he was fascinated to see how Erik and Julian
interacted with each other. He certainly made up for his silence later on.
Wouldn't Christine be furious over
Pascale...because she was certainly jealous of Erik talking to the lady at the
Deep down, Christine doesn’t
give two flips that Erik had that affair. She is just honored and hungry to
keep the Phantom in her life. She also knows very well the sacrifice to self
he made to stay with her on the estate. At one point she even wants to join
him on an escapade to The Inn of the Marching Drum.
I can't believe this story, it seems
like a dream. I love the color of the jacket. I was imagined a brighter orange
from the website, but I love this color. It's softer. The picture of Erik is
clearer and he’s so handsome with the mask. His face is clearer, like
he's coming out, closer into the world. Which I think is what you wanted it
to depict if I’m correctly remembering what you said about the cover.
The angles around him are curved and more comforting. Softer. And I'm not sure,
but are there pictures on the column to the right of Erik? Above his head to
his right (a male figure), and farther up to his right (a female picture)? Am
I imagining, or is this what I see? And there’s a warm, soft light to
the back of Erik coming around the back of him. Did you specifically do any
of these details or am I imagining more in my mind? I love it, love it, love
it! I can't wait to turn the lights low and start reading!
You have my most solemn word of honor
that I did not place those ghostly images on the cover. I take credit for the
artwork on the jacket and the angel on the title page. The actual layout belongs
to our illustrious webmaster, who is quite a talented individual.
Is the ghost Imel Grey? Was it the rum
cake that had blood on it? What the ghost did boiled my blood.
Imel Grey is not the ghost, but good
for you that you are already wondering who in the world he is. Yes, the rum
wedding cake (the very piece that Sarah ate) had a few droplets on it. The blood
was the final ingredient needed to create the rift between two worlds and let
the ghost punch through to this plane.
Was the magic show illusion or was
Christine rising like she did in the chapel? Is she being lifted by unseen beings?
Is Erik an angel?
Erik is a man with a destiny ordained
by heaven. The magic show for the wedding guests is illusion; Erik playing the
part of a magician. What happens in the chapel (that Michael witnesses and reacts
to) is different. There is a wonderful artist named Marc Chagall who painted
people floating when they are in love or in a state of inspiration. Please take
a look at some of his pieces; I believe you will like them. I wanted to write
in words (using my craft) the same sentiment. When love is focused, we tend
to disappear into each other, we float on a diaphanous plane. Could that not
be absolutely real? To me, yes. She was no longer on the floor. She was attended
by beings who must bear witness to pure undiluted love.
When is this new book going to be available?
The manuscript was sent
to the publisher on July 3rd. It became available for purchase on October 14th
Phantom of the Opera
Opera Ghost Returns
Paris Opera House
Return of the Phantom
Season of the Witch
Tale of the Bloodline
your eyes, glut your soul on my cursed ugliness!"