(1) What's the book about?
Much like Splintered was for Alice in Wonderland, this is a modern day spin-off / continuation of the original Phantom of the Opera, that follows a high school senior who is sent to RoseBlood Academy—a French boarding school for musical arts inside a renovated opera house rumored to have ties to the classic opera—only to discover a very real danger lurks within that has awaited her for over a century.
(2) Is Erik in the story?
Well, there is an elusive, masked, tortured hero/anti-hero with an agenda and a violin, who might just be the infamous disfigured Phantom. You'll have to read to find out.
(3) Is Christine in the story?
She kind of plays a role. And that's meant to be cryptic. ;) But RoseBlood's heroine is someone else entirely. Like Christine, she has the voice of an angel. But unlike Christine, every time my heroine sings, she's left physically drained and ill, as if the songs overpower her. Which is why she's sent to the academy, in hopes she can learn to master the music.
(4) Is there a love triangle?
There are several different kinds of love in the book: platonic, romantic, and familial. There's also the passionate love a composer has for his music. Taking each of them into consideration, it's safe to say there is a triangle. But you'll have to read the story to find out which kind of love it involves. One thing to note, though: The original story had a romantic love triangle, and I don't like to just rehash what's already been done. So you can safely assume there won't be a romantic one.
(5) Is this a fantasy?
Yes, there are both fantasy and paranormal aspects to this retelling. There's also a touch of horror.
(6) Is this a contemporary setting?
The opera house has an old world Gothic atmosphere, so although the story is set in the modern era, there are dark Victorian elements woven throughout.
(7) Is this a standalone or a series?
It's a standalone.
(8) What color will the text be?
You can see a glimpse of the interior design and ink color on this post.
(9) Will it be the same sort of "milder" YA content like the splintered series, or is this for an older YA group?
In the product details, my Splintered books are listed as appropriate for ages 14+ by my publisher. RoseBlood will be listed for the same ages.
But there is one major difference: where my Wonderland series is based on what has often been considered a children's story, RoseBlood is based on The Phantom of the Opera -- a romantic horror/ drama about the obsession to be accepted and loved, and unrequited passion turned to madness. So the mood is different.
RoseBlood is very character-driven, as opposed to plot-driven, which makes it a slower, more complex unwinding of twists and turns than the Splintered books. There also aren't any *whimsical* underpinnings in this one. Instead, it's darkly romantic and Gothic with subtle elements of horror, and the relationships involve more tortured/sensual depths. For these reasons, it will appeal to teens who like richer character-driven stories, but also to an older more mature demographic, as well.
As for how graphic the sensuality or language aspects are, those are still comparable to the Splintered Series.
Other than the passing mention of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical, both Sergei Prokofiev's Russian opera, "The Fiery Angel" and "Rusalka", a Czech opera by Antonín Dvořák, play roles in the story line.
As far as outside of the story world, to inspire my writing stints, I created/listened to a playlist that consists -- as you might expect -- of violin and operatic pieces, but also ranges from gothic metal to rock, electronic indie pop to trip hop, and alternative metal to pop-noir .
It's a very eclectic playlist, with myriad moods, emotions, lyrics and instrumental/vocalist stylings. If you'd like to listen to the playlist yourself, follow this link.
(11) What did you do for research?
I've read Gaston Leroux’s novel twice and made copious notes. I was determined to honor the atmosphere, setting, and Erik's backstory, but at the same time, bridge them to the modern world.
I watched both the musical and movie; although they don't play hefty roles in the book, they are mentioned as part of everyday culture.
I also researched the opera singer, Christina Nilsson, who was rumored to have "possibly" inspired Leroux's naive young ingenue, Christine Daaé. Even Leroux himself has merited research, because his serialization of Phantom in a French newspaper influenced part of my plot. And I've studied image after image of the Palais Garnier which Leroux drew upon when fashioning his " Opera Populaire," to refine the setting.
And lastly, I read Susan Kay's "Phantom" twice, because in my opinion, her prequel to The Phantom of the Opera beefs-up Erik's early life with emotional depth, historical details, and insight, while still honoring Leroux's original vision.
All that to say, although I twisted things here and there to fit my adaptation -- similar to how I did with Splintered and Alice in Wonderland -- I stayed very true to Erik's original characterization and history while expanding upon it.
(12) How is Rune's backstory tied into Leroux's original Phantom history?
RoseBloood pays homage to The Phantom of the Opera canon by basing parts of its world/characters/and setting upon Gaston Leroux's original. For example, Rune is descended from the traveling troupe that Leroux wove into his novel. In Leroux's version, as a young boy, Erik (the phantom) runs away from home and falls in with a “band of traveling gypsies,” making his living as an attraction in side shows. The use of the term “gypsy” is in keeping with this historical definition: “a nomadic people who speak Romany and traditionally live by seasonal work, itinerant trade, and fortune-telling.”
This aspect of Erik's history is revisited in RoseBlood because it’s vitally important in Leroux’s phantom lore; Erik learns incredible skills while traveling in this caravan that shape him into the brilliant and talented person he becomes.
The very band Erik traveled with is also tied into Rune’s history, so it plays a huge role in her story as well. The traveling troupe was a part of who Rune is — her heritage — so the word "gypsy" is used to distinguish that particular historical “nomadic, caravan and traveling” band, staying true to Erik’s original characterization while weaving it into Rune’s backstory.