Face it; there are a lot of women out there who want to get into Mr. Darcy's pants. There are a few authors
out there who have dared to do it. I personally wanted to crawl into the lap of a black-masked Phantom in a certain French opera house and ask him why everyone thinks his mask is white and he has six pack abs…
Crawling into the heads of our characters is challenging enough. Expanding classic literature and diving in the heads of characters not originally ours is a whole other ball game. I have the richly rewarding experience of being contracted to expand Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera in a three book series. (Madrigal, Abendlied and Elegy which is forthcoming).
Many readers are curious as to what this involves and many more want to know why there are such broad interpretations on their favorite characters. Whatever happened to the original author's vision? If you are continuing classic literature, shouldn't your hero or heroine be as they were in original? Fans of Pride and Prejudice or Phantom of the Opera are passionate about the characters in their fandom. My reply is that one must understand the changing shape of canon and works in the public domain.
Canon: from the Latin canon
or "rule" is a standard of judgment based upon a determined body of text, like the Bible. Works in the public domain are copyright free--allowing an author the ability to shape a story, or character, to their imagination. We have Mr. Darcy as a vampire and zombie out there now, and love affairs between male leads…. the sky is the limit!
Personally, I side with those fans that prefer their characters to remain true to the original book.
I adhere to Gaston Leroux's vision with slight changes to suit the limits of my imagination. Partly due to the requests of my publishing house but, for me, I wanted to stick to Leroux because I appreciate what he did with the characters to begin with. I have seen Erik (for those of you unaware, that was the Phantom's name as given by Leroux) in various progeny with killer abs, green eyes, thick hair, only half his face deformed and a sex drive that doesn't end. Quite different from the monster Leroux created. Erik was described as a “living corpse”; a murderously vengeful madman at the center of a Death and the Maiden story, who Leroux wrote, “would have been one of the most distinguished of mankind! He had a heart that could have held the empire of the world; and, in the end, he had to content himself with a cellar.”
I started questioning this shift in canon and began wondering what reader expectation would be when this series launched, very early on. A few agents told me a continuation of Leroux's novel may be hard to sell. Why? So many identify with the wildly popular vision of Andrew Lloyd Webber and may not know the roots of the original story. Webbed did an excellent job of introducing his idea of the character and his idea of the canon for the story.
So what do you do when you come across a book that expands your beloved favorite novel? I suppose a reader must have an open mind and the authors must understand that their vision may not be that of everyone else's and opinions will vary. Rejoice in them! So long as the author writes a solid, believable story readers will embrace it--good or bad--thus allowing those classic characters to live on .
Years earlier Erik faked his death and vowed the Phantom would never again haunt the Opera Garnier. But strange packages left by Anna, an unwanted Samaritan turned unlikely friend, cause him to desire the unattainable--love. Battling the nobleman determined to lock him away, Erik must control his demons and tame a heart unexpectedly beating for two opposite women: Christine, who he longs to love, and Anna the woman who saw beyond his bitter soul to the man beneath the mask. In the midst of a brutal manhunt, can he be loved for himself or is he condemned to be The Phantom of the Opera? Murderer, Maestro, Magician, Mastermind.
Erik's blood coursed so hard the pulse pounded in his throat. He caught himself before he leaned too far out of his shadow. Caressing the velvet of the armchair, he imagined stroking her sensuous form, whispering his adoration into her ear, and proclaiming his love for her in ways he only dreamed.
Yes, I gave you it all, Christine. I would have lassoed the moon for you.
“And you gave nothing in return?” Anna said incredulously. “He loved you.”
The memory of how he'd shunned Anna wrapped around his heart like a rope of thorns. The raw passion he felt for her tightened those binds until he swore his heart would puncture. He forced such passion away. He didn't want it. Not now. He clamped his teeth in an attempt to govern the thoughts tumbling drunkenly in his mind. The velvet shredded beneath his fingers.
Damn it, you little minx. Stay out of my mind.
Christine wandered the empty stage staring out across the seats. “There was nothing I could give. Least of all love.”
Ridges plowed into Anna's brow. “Why?”“He was horrifically deformed. He frightened me. I was put through so much horror.”
“Then why did you continue with the lessons?” Anna demanded sharply. “If you knew he loved you and you couldn't give that in return, why torment him?”
“I wanted to know the music for I had never experienced anything like it. I deeply respected the Angel of Music and cared for him, but I could never truly love
him. Not in the way he wanted. His affections were so powerful--they frightened me.” Christine shook her head. “A woman such as you could never comprehend the situation. He was a distorted soul, a madman. I couldn't be expected to look on that with love. No one could.”
No one could? That? Respected? Rejected!
Erik tensed as he shook from head to toe. His hands crushed to his mask. He cursed his ugliness. Looking at the two women, he recognized the confusion Anna had mentioned. With all his being, he tried to control his demons. His inability to do so was not his
fault. Man made him this way.
He turned his attention to the woman beside her. Erik leaned forward avoiding the urge to fold himself over the velvet railing and scream to the women below.
Anna, make her understand me
Desiring normalcy is difficult enough with a price on his head, but when Erik is falsely accused of killing Philippe de Chagny, brother of his nemesis Raoul, he is launched toward madness.
Anna is an unlikely companion, sharing Erik's heart and the bounty on his head. As the manhunt heats, Erik's mysterious relationship with Philippe spurs the campaign against them forward, and exposes her darkest secret: defending her honor ended in murder.
Plagued by his past as The Phantom of the Opera, Erik's memories enslave his heart to Raoul's wife Christine, whose shocking confession brings a ruthless bounty hunter into the fray and blackmail to the Chagny bloodline. Blackmail from a hunter who cares little about the Phantom or Philippe, and everything about the one he has lusted for: Anna.
With the past weeping like an open wound, can love endure or will it take memories of one unlikely man to heal them all?
Memories of Philippe Georges Marie, Comte de Chagny...
He thought to lean to one side and be done with it. The exhaustion over fighting his desires for Christine, the constant tug of war with madness coupled with fearing he would destroy the one woman who made him feel alive, was unbearable punishment.
“I never believed in Your sincerity of bringing Anna to me. Shocked are we? Surprised for a brief moment I believed?” Erik rolled his head toward the side and pressed his cheek to the stone. His accusatory eyes could have shattered the pinpricks of light across the heavens. “Congratulations, Oh Merciful God, You failed again. Anna can have You and Your Son.” He yanked himself upright, his body going rigid with his anger. “I am pleased Philippe is dead!”
Spittle flew from sob soaked lips. His mouth spread upward. He may be alone for now, but not forever. There was to be an heir to his kingdom, a child with his mind and his madness. Erik spoke to the shattered stone below with an unblinking stare.
“I will have my child, in all his hideous imperfections. I will need no one but him and my music. I will need only his love. As for Christine?” Erik leapt to his feet. The wind flapped his cloak behind him. He leaned into the gust and taunted the streets below like a great yellow-eyed bird ready to swoop on unsuspecting prey. “Our character becomes our destiny. Music, like life, is inexpressible silence without its instrument. Am I not its master? I hold the baton. I will conduct what I want. I will have what I want. What is Erik without Christine?” Leaping back to the roof he retrieved his mask and turned to the opera house, his boots drumming a cadence so the ferryman could dutifully follow. A haunting whisper carried his sadness forward on the wind.
“What is Erik without the Phantom?”
“Ms. Linforth's prose is phenomenally beautiful and hauntingly breathtaking.” ~Coffee Time Romance
“… a sumptuous feast for any fan of The Phantom of the Opera.” ~ Night Owl Romance