Wednesday, August 08, 2007

For all the women who thought Christine should have stayed with the Phantom

At the "Readers for Life" book signing in Dallas this year, my good friend Kristi Gold was seated beside today's guest blogger. Kristi shoved a book toward me, and it was opened to the dedication page. Kristi is the one who surprised me with a copy of the Phantom of the Opera DVD last year when she found out I'd never seen it. And you ain't seen PotO until you've watched it on the DH's big-a$$ TV with theater-quality sound turned up so high it rattles the windows. And Gerard in those tight pants. Past the point of no return... ::swoon:: What can brown do for you????

But I digress. The book she showed me was Unmasqued: An Erotic Novel of the Phantom of the Opera by Colette Gale. Colette's good friend Colleen Gleason guest blogged with us last December. We called a meeting here at Playground HQ and invited Colette to blog about her very unusual take on an old story.

Please make room in the Playground wading pool (we're having a heat wave here folks, and we're tying to stay cool) for today's guest blogger, Colette Gale.
No splashing, please.

I have been having a love affair with Andrew Lloyd Webber's glorious Phantom of the Opera since I first saw it, seventeen years ago. I'd never read the book by Gaston Leroux, and so my only point of reference for many years was ALW's version.

I adored everything about it~~the costumes, the set, the music!~~except the ending.

Why, oh why, couldn't Christine have followed her heart and stayed with the man who really
loved her? I mean, you could feel the tension, the passion, the love between them onstage! What was she thinking????

And so when the film version of ALW's play was released, with the up and coming Gerard Butler cast (to much fanfare and disappointment from the Crawford Crowd) as Erik, the Phantom, I hoped...hoped...that perhaps the movie would end, well, differently.

I mean, when Christine plants that kiss on Gerard~~er, I mean, the Phantom~~she doesn't just kiss him. She goes back for more! So how could she leave him and go with that milquetoast Raoul? (Although I must admit, he was more heroic in the movie than the play.)

But, alas, I was bound to be disappointed~~and I daresay, I'm not the only one.

So a few months later, in the summer of 2005, I was between writing projects (Colette Gale is a pen name for another author who's guested on the Playground before), and I decided that I
wanted to try my hand at an erotic novel~~and I thought that exploring what really happened in the Phantom's lair would be just the place to start.

Not only is ALW's play/film rife with sexual tension and understated passion, but so does Leroux's original story beg the question: what happened when Christine was with Erik in his lair for that week??

Don't try and tell me it was all innocence and music scales. I won't buy it.

And so, I wrote a story that was, originally, just for me. I love to read erotica (The Story of O, Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty series, Bertrice Small's Skye O'Malley books...), and this was my chance to try it out myself.

I even included the scene at the end in the Phantom's lair when Christine has that life or death
choice to make~~only this time, in my book, she's choosing between her freedom and Erik's life. Not Raoul's. And she leaves with the wrong man (Raoul), just as she does in the play/film.

(But, I fix that later.)

And then my agent found out about the manuscript and wanted to see it, and the next thing I knew, my editor wanted to buy it. I was, of course, delighted...yet a little nervous. After all, it is an erotic novel--make no mistake.

But at the end of the day, the book is the love story between Christine and Erik, and how I imagined that it could have played out.

So that's why the dedication page on Unmasqued: An Erotic Novel of the Phantom of
the Opera reads: For all the women who thought Christine should have stayed with the Phantom.

Unmasqued was released yesterday, and can be found in bookstores everywhere. But I'd like to give away a copy of the book to one of the commenters--so please, ask a question, or make a relevant comment and you'll be entered in a drawing to win!

And big fat thanks to the Playground for squeezing me in as a guest blogger this week, at such short notice! You gals rock the house!!

P.S. You can read more about Colette at her website.


Jen said...

Oh, oh, oh, Collette, this sounds like a "must read"!! I'm going to duck as I say this...but I've only ever seen the play, too. Never the movie. I've got to fix that!

Playground Monitor said...

Next time you're in town, Jen, you'll have to come over to the house for a PotO party. We'll fix popcorn and sodas, crank up the volume real loud and listen to the "Music of the Night."


Colette Gale said...

Ahhh, but Jen...if you pop over to, I'm actually having a contest there to give away....

a copy of the special edition DVD of the movie AND the two-disk soundtrack.

So you can have a chance to win a book here on the Playground, and over there, a chance to win the movie!

You'll be all Phantomed out. (As if that's possible.)

Sara York said...

I saw the movie that came out a few years ago and the entire relationship thing with Erik was strange. To me, it seemed like she was very afraid of Erik and Raoul was the guy she was supposed to go after. Maybe I need to watch it again. I know that she's supposed to be in love with Erik, but I didn't see that in the movie. I loved the music score though.

Colette Gale said...

Hi Sara:

I think in the movie and in the play, Christine is a little afraid of Erik--yet she's drawn to him too. After all, he is a murderer and she does think he's a ghost.

However, in my book, I've removed all doubt (I think)...even from the very beginning, she wants to see this mysterious Angel of Music, to touch him, to get to know him. She knows he's not a ghost, that he's a real man...and in my book, no, he's not a murderer.

He is a hero, if a tortured, insecure one--at first.

Playground Monitor said...

I don't remember the Phantom having a name. Did I just miss this? Or is it from the Leroux book? Or did you give him the name Erik?


Colette Gale said...

PM, it's actually in the book by Leroux. His name is Erik in that book.

I actually wanted to title the book Christine & Erik, but that got nixed at the publisher.

And, in regards to the Leroux book...I did read it after I decided to write my version. I wanted to make sure that what I was writing about was in the public domain--in other words, I didn't take anything that ALW had made up for his version that wasn't in the original version.

(Eg, The Point of No Return scene. Unfortunately, that was in Webber's show, but not in the book. Thus, that particular scene is not in my book.)

And I also kept the same villain from Leroux's version as the monstrous villain in my book: Raoul's brother Philippe, the Comte de Chagny. So for those of you familiar with ALW's movie/play, you won't know this character.

Kimberly L said...

I think what you are doing is fantastik. I can't wait to read the book.

Smarty Pants said...

Confession time - I have never seen the play, heard the soundtrack or seen any movie version. The closest I've gotten is listening to Kathy's cell phone go off constantly in Atlanta at conference with a PotO ring tone.

To redeem myself, I have entered the contest on freshfiction and maybe I'll win (nudge nudge) and can find out what all this is about.

Oh, and the Skye O'Malley books rock. Didn't know at the time it was erotic fiction, though. Just thought it was a naughty historical. Yum.

So, now that you've cracked into the erotic market, do you have any ideas for a new book?


Instigator said...

SP!! How can this be? I have the soundtrack in my car. I carry it with me everywhere. The next time we're together I'll play you some. I also have the soundtrack for Les Mis but that's another post for another time.

Colette, your books sounds absolutely fabulous! I can't wait to read it. And I absolutely love the cover.

Did you encounter any obstacles writing this book that you didn't anticipate? Where there any problems simply because it's a story so widely known and recognized?


Colette Gale said...

Hey Smarty Pants....

Good luck on the FF contest. I'm sure if you don't win, one of the gals here will loan you their copy of the DVD.

However, it isn't required watching. (Although it does help.) My friend, erotic author Jane Lockwood [how's that for a wink-wink-nudge-nudge pen name?] has never seen POTO either...and she gave UNMASQUED a Missed Metro Stop award (she commutes via the Metro in DC) the other day. WOOT!

Anyway, as far as Ms. Small's books are concerned...definitely very naughty historicals. They're more erotic romance than erotica, but the heroine does get it on with more than one man (ie, the hero) and LIKES IT.

Heh heh. Not that Christine gets it on with more than one man--really--in my book. She only really does with Erik, though there are some close calls.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Unfortunately, I'm in the same camp as SP. Never seen the movie or read the book. But, I am acquainted with the soundtrack because I have a FIL who LOVES musicals. When he was visiting us once, he put the CD in the stereo and proceeded to sing all the songs -- offkey. LOL! But the music was beautiful, and I love Sarah Brightman's voice.

So I'd love to know what this Phantom-mania is all about!

I'd also like to know, since you write under another name too, how you are able to make the switch required to write different types of stories. Some people mistakenly think erotica is a regular story with lots of sex scenes, but in reality I think it's a different voice. Did you have trouble with that voice at first?

Lois said...

LOL Hi again. . . LOL :) We just keep meeting up with each other on the net! :) Heck, we saw the musical for the first time on the 28th, and we're still talking about it!! :)

But I don't think it's possible to be Phantomed out. . . although I think you can read a lot into that for another direction or meaning. . . ah, I think I'll be quiet now. . . LOLOL :)


Sassy said...


I realize I stated pretty much the same thing yesterday on The Spiced Tea Party blog but I absolutely cannot wait for payday Friday to go and purchase this book. I love this genre and PotO is my all time favorite. I fell in love with it in High School Choir when we pretty much spent the entire year learning the musical scoresheet.


Playground Monitor said...

Well I can see that the Playfriends are going to have to have a PotO screening at my house. Mine is the special edition and I quite honestly found the interviews with ALW and all the others involved in the production to be fascinating. The whole evolution of the show was so interesting.


Problem Child said...

I was afraid I'd have to be the first one to admit I've never seen the play or the movie. Haven't read the book. Have no idea what it's all about.

Looks like I'm okay then since SP and Lynn are PotO virgins as well.

And let me ditto SP's Bertrice Small comment as well. (Skye O'Malley is a favorite of both of us.)

Angel said...

Well, I'll have to join in on the screening. I must have seen the older version at some point, because I remember bits and pieces. I COULD have seen it on Broadway when we went to New York, but a certain playfriend wouldn't let me. So we saw the Producers instead (funny, but not the same).

Anyway, thanks for being here, Colette! Have you found it easier or harder to promote your new pen name? Is it like doing double the work or are there things you can slip in as one (like giving out the bookmarks for this book while signing at the Literacy Signing)?

And I just have to tell this story: We were hearing Colleen talk about this book coming out in Dallas, and I was standing there with Kathy. She's a PotO fanatic! She was so excited, but the more Colleen talked the wider Kathy's eyes got. I wanted to fall down laughing! Guess she never viewed Phantom that way, did you, Kathy? :)


Maureen said...

jCongratulations on the new book. I haven't seen the movie, only the play but it was sad when she leaves the Phantom.

Nini said...

Hi Collette...

I'm one of the few who've not see PotO...but that's okay. I do love the music though.

Lynn Rae Harris asked:

Some people mistakenly think erotica is a regular story with lots of sex scenes, but in reality I think it's a different voice. Did you have trouble with that voice at first?

I was wondering almost the same thing. A major publishing company has an ebook section called "Spice Briefs", 10K words of erotica. I've tried to write it to see if i can, but i'm trying to figure out the line between being erotica and being pornographic. I know there's a major distinction, but can you throw a few ideas or examples out.... there anyting taboo in writing erotica?


Nini :)

Playground Monitor said...

My daughter-in-law sent me this from the Birmingham NBC affialiate. Check it out!

It's a Phantom of the Opera contest.


colette gale said...

Sorry...had to step out of the office for a bit and wow, how much fun to see all of you coming by!

Kimberly L, thanks for coming by! I hope you think the book is worthy of the word "fantastic!"

Instigator, you asked about problems that I didn't anticipate when writing the book. Actually the only problem I ran into was after the book was written (remember, I originally wrote it for me, not necessarily for publication).

My editor loved the book, but she really wanted me to keep Christine and Erik's love for each other sort of pure--in the sense that they shouldn't sleep with anyone but each other.

So I had to do some tweaks in order to cut, for example, a scene where Christine and Raoul have sex--and basically take out the actual intercourse. (Can you say...splitting hairs?) In other words, as long as neither of them actually had intercourse with anyone else, it was okay.

So in that way, I had to make some changes.

I shouldn't say I HAD to make some changes--that's not true, actually.

My editor told me that there were two ways to market this book--as a straight erotic novel (which the sex scenes are more like in my book) or an erotic romance (in which the sex scenes don't quite push the boundaries as much as many of mine did).

It was up to me how I wanted to attack it--and changes needed to be made to make it more of a romance, so I took out the actual sex between Christine and Raoul so that the book would still keep the basic tenet of a romance novel: that the hero and heroine only have sex with each other.

(I could argue that there are romance novels in which that's not the case--Skye O'Malley, for one, but it was fine.)

And now, even though the book is really more of an erotic novel than it is an erotic romance, it does have that element of a love story with true love between Christine and Erik--there's a fine line.

colette gale said...

Lynn Raye Harris, thanks for asking about switching hats between my other books and these.

And, yes, most definitely do I need to switch hats.

My other books are historical paranormals, and there isn't a lot of sex in those books. I don't like to write sex scenes unless they belong to the plot and really fit in the story, and so my historical paranormals aren't what one would consider hot.

They're more sort of mainstream, even though they're shelved in romance and have strong romance tendencies--and what I mean by that is that the romance is not resolved in the first, second, or even third book of the series...and the suspense/action plot is just as strong, or stronger, as the romance subplot.

So when I write erotica, I write lots of sex scenes. In fact, I sort of live by the "at least one orgasm per chapter" rule in my erotic novels.

And yet, those scenes aren't gratuitous sex scenes, either. They actually further the plot--develop the relationship between the hero and heroine or the subplot or whatever.

There is a purpose, and the feel behind each scene--whether it's a bondage scene or a battle of wills or a sensitive love scene--there's always a subtext, and an astute reader will see the growth and change of the characters in relation to each other in the scenes.

And also, when I write erotica, I tend to write with more sensual words, word choices, and more goal is to give a very lush, erotic, exotic feel to the book as a whole--which is not the case for my other books.

Great question--I hope I answered it!

Kathy said...

ACK!! I spend all day taking my #3 to get his physical for W. Point admission and I come back to see I've missed my heart's desire!!!

I AM THE POTO fan!! I've got all the movies in my collection from 1925 and on. Have been a fan since I was a kid. I've read Gaston's version and PHANTOM by Susan Kay. I've got the regular CD and the double disc, which remains in my car and I listen to it always, especially when I'm down. I know all the music by heart. Shall I sing a few lines for you? :-) I went to the see the movie 11 times in the theatre. (Not that I'm a little hooked or anything.) I've got the Special 2 disc DVD, widescreen and fullscreen versions. The Phantom sings to me on my phone (thanks for the plug, SP) so he's never far from my fingertips. My #2, dear that she is, just came back from London and saw the play (Argh, without me). She brought me back a shirt and a playbook. I've got a Phantom picture frame that plays music (my #1 grandson's halloween picture is in it :-) Oh, I could go on...

Yes. Yes. Yes. I want to read your book but must admit (Angel saw my face) I'm a little scared as I've never read erotica before. But I'm willing to give it a go for the Phantom's sake.

Yes, Christine did go back for another kiss. And didn't you notice that when she leaves with Raul, she turns and is singing to the Phantom as they row away? She gave her soul to him and he knew it was always his even til the end. That's why he brought her back the ring.

Colette, you have done mankind a great service!! Is there a medal of honor for this? Who knows where it is? We must bestow it immediately!

Playfriends, thank you for bringing Colette to the playground. Questions, yes I must ask, are you in love with the Phantom even more than ever before now that you've written the book? Did you resolve all the issues that bothered you from the original story? Did you write with Gerard as your muse? Doesn't Gerard's vocal stir something deep within you? Doesn't he bring Erik's emotion to life? Who would dare resist his charms? To know more of Erik's angst, read PHANTOM by Susan Kay.

Oh, I could go on. LOL.


colette gale said...

Hey Lois!! *waves* Thanks for coming by, and I think you're can be Phantomed out in many different ways. LOL!

Sassy! Thanks for planning to get the book on Friday...let me know where you find it, and where it is in the store, if you don't mind. :-) It's always interesting to hear!

PM, when you have the POTO screening....can I come too???

Problem Child and Instigator--did I tell you that Bertrice Small gave me a quote for UNMASQUED? I was so excited, I thought I was going to die! She is such an inspiration to me--I loved her Skye O'Malley books. They so pushed the envelope of historical romance!

colette gale said...

Angel, it is a little harder to promote a pen name. I spent a lot of time building up my other name on the Net, but since I don't necessarily want the two names connected, it's been difficult to do the same for Colette.

I am greatly indebted to places like The Playground for having me on and allowing me to promote the book, though, because otherwise, it'd be a lot harder.

I do blog under my other name, regularly, but as Colette, I'm part of a group blog of historical erotica authors about every other week.

You can find us at The Spiced Tea Party, where we talk sex and erotica and history and all sorts of things.

colette gale said...

Nini and Lynn: in re the difference between erotica and erotic romance, and also between erotica and porn....good questions.

Okay, here's the way I look at them:

+ Hero and heroine have lots of hot sex
+ Their relationship may or may not be driven by their sexual relationship, but they do have a lot of hot sex.
+ Must have an HEA
+ Must have a plot
+ A very hot historical romance, to me, can also be an erotic romance.
+ the sex doesn't necessarily push the boundaries--ie, doesn't include things like menage a trois, girl on girl, men on men, bondage/domination, etc.
+The h/he don't have sex with anyone but each other usually
+May or may not be written purposely to arouse the reader

+ Everything in the book--all motivations, characters, purposes, scenes--are driven by sex
+There is a plot, but it's driven by sex or sexual relationships
+The sex pushes the boundaries--menage a trois, m/m, f/f, whipping, spanking, bondage, domination--and can even include things like bestiality, golden showers, etc.
+The language is often harsher, tauter, dirtier, rougher
+One of the main purposes of erotica is to titillate and arouse the reader

+ Whatever medium is used, it's merely sexual images or scenes, with no plot to tie them together
+Only purpose is to titillate and arouse.
+ Can definitely include things like bestiality, menages, etc.

These are my opinions--and thus when I say that my book is between erotic romance and erotica, it's true.

The erotic romance elements are such that ERik and Christine don't have intercourse with anyone else, and that they have a happy ending.

There isn't any bestiality or golden showers in my books, but there are bondage scenes and menages and some whipping, etc. The villain is VERY repulsive and it shows through his sexual acts, and what he does with women in the books.

colette gale said...

Kathy! So wonderful of you to join us!!

I too have the double CDs and know every single word, syllable, and note to every song. (We can sing together!)

I definitely had Gerard Butler in mind when I wrote my book.

Erik is most definitely a tortured hero, and he doesn't quite know how to approach this woman he's fallen in love with--he's so injured that he has to protect himself from what he is afraid will be her rejection, so at first, he has to be in control of everything while he tries to show her how much he loves her and wants to give her pleasure.

It will be interesting to see what you think of the book--truly, it isn't for everyone! But just know that underneath it all, I wrote a love story about a man who finally lets himself love. Wholly and completely.

And loves a woman who deserves him.

Smarty Pants said...

I'm so annoyed that I can't win this book! Argh. I guess I'll be hitting BAM later this weekend.

colette gale said...

Oh, and by the way, Borders is offering a $1-off coupon for UNMASQUED through Sept 10.

Cherie J said...

This sounds great Colette. I think your version sounds more like my cup of tea than the original. I always thought she should have stayed with him as well.

Kathy said...

Sounds cool, Colette! In the movie, that's what Erik's kiss was about. Giving in to the realization that he loved her so much that he had to give her up, IF that was what she wanted. Oh, to be loved like that! Much more than a kiss went on in the book, PHANTOM. :-) Let the reader have no doubt, Christine understood Erik in every way.

I found your definitions of erotic and erotica romance enlightening. IN POTO, the masquerade scene leads one to believe a lot went on inside the Paris Opera House. The house employed at least 1500 workers at any given time. Nowdays, 1000 work in the opera house. The managers in POTO, as an example, thought only of tasting the tempting dancing girls to Carlotta's ire. Joseph Bouqet (sp) peeped at the girls and who knows what else. Even Raoul seemed quite familiar with the backstage rooms. Hmmmm. Perhaps, there was more erotica going on then previously thought. I must ponder this.

What are your favorite historical time periods? What time settings are most of your books written in? (I ask because I'm an historical writer too.)

Also, what projects do you have coming up? More historical? More erotic?

I will gladly accompany you in my most operatic voice any time you want to celebrate a masquerade.


Caffey said...

When reading it like this, understanding how it did end or now ends, is so exciting! I am totally thrilled about this book!! I definately would love to be in the contest for this! I'm on a waiting list to get the movie so should have it soon.

Collette, I can feel your intense love for this story and finding the gray areas and filling them out that give m ore to the story! Is there any other legend or story or anything that you would also like to write/re-write/or finish telling the story of? :)
Thank you!

colette gale said...

Kathy and Caffey--Thanks for asking about other projects. In fact, I do have others in mind!

Actually, my second book as Colette Gale will be released in May. It's titled MASTER: An Erotic Novel of the Count of Monte Cristo.

Yes, indeedy. I loved writing that book, too. For those of you who aren't familiar with the story (and my version is more closely based on the original book by Dumas than the movie with Jim Cazaviel [sp?])....

It's about a man named Edmond Dantes who is imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit--for fourteen years. He's taken from his fiancee, Mercedes, and when he comes back twenty years later as the rich and powerful Count of Monte Cristo, he's out for revenge.

He's out for revenge on the men who sent him to prison--and on the woman he once loved, who has since married one of the men who betrayed him and sent him to prison.

Can you say YUMMY? Oh, yes, I loved the original book, and I loved writing this book.

So that comes out in May.

And I hope that my next project (just waiting for the green light from my editor) will be a version of Robin Hood...and then who knows after that. I have some other ideas for classics that are just dying to be "seduced." :-)

colette gale said...

Cherie J, I have to say, I didn't much like the original book by Leroux. But then, I had already been "tainted" by Andrew Lloyd Webber's romanticized version...and that was it for me!!

Kathy, you're so right about the backstage hanky panky at the opera. Those people lived and worked together, and I'm sure very few were innocent.

In fact that was something I had to address with Christine's character. I couldn't reasonably have her be an innocent--not living in that environment; plus, I wanted her to be somewhat sexually experienced so that what happens with Erik doesn't put her off at first.

I might have mentioned to you when we met at RWA that in my book, I made the straight-laced Madame Giry (the ballet mistress) a woman who absolutely looooves sex. She loves it, and gets it as often as she can.

She's as close as I get to comic relief in this book, and I personally think her scenes are fairly amusing--especially the one where she and one of the Opera House managers get it on in the set of Hell for Dante's Inferno...while it's onstage. :-)

colette gale said...

Kathy, you also asked about my favorite historical time periods.

While I do love the Regency (which is the period in which my other books are set), I'm getting a little burned out on it--there are so many books set in that period!

The periods I really love are the Middle Ages in England--during the time of Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard the Lionheart--which is why I'm hoping to do my Robin Hood book next.

I also love Colonial America and the Old West/early San Francisco. And I've become fond of the Elizabethan period as well.

Caffey said...

Collette, I'll be checking out to get the movie Count of Monte Cristo next!
Thanks so much! This is so neat!

tetewa said...

Hi Collette glad to see you here today, boy your really making the rounds. I'm looking forward to your take on the book since The Phantom is one of my favorite plays and the movies was great also.

Stacy S said...

The book sounds great. But I've never seen the movie either. I'm gonna have to rent sometime.

Kathy said...

Wow! Colette, that's an awesome list. I love The Count of Monte Cristo. #4's name is Mercedes in Spanish class. ;-) Robin Hood too! (Robin Hood in Tights anyone? :-) You really have picked all the old, wonderful legends and stories to expand on. What a great idea to write about the Classics.

I just had to add, because she's sitting right here beside me, that I forgot to mention Christine Daae lives at our house. She's my long haired Maine Coon cat, an orphaned, bedraggled little, half starved thing we found in our yard 2 years ago. Now she's the most wonderful house cat, so fluffy and pretty just like Christine! And she loves to hear the Phantom sing to her. ;-D (You really didn't know what a lost cause I am, did you?)

The Medieval period is fantastic era. Would you consider working with Shakespeare? What about Ivanhoe?

I'm using a Sioux legend as the basis of my Native American/Western historical. I love working with legends. You can do so much with them.


KimW said...

I've seen the play twice and the movie. It's one of my favorite stories. Your book sounds so good! Adding it to my list. Can't wait to see how your story plays out.

Colette Gale said...

Wheee! Thank you so much for coming by and chatting about my book, Tetewa, Stacy, Kim!

I hope you all enjoy it!

LadyVampire said...

You know, for such a long time I have waited for an author to finally make Christine open her eyes to the love that was in her grasp. Why she resisted so much is anyones guess but I am so glad I wasn't the only one dissappointed by the ending. I mean the original story was great, dont get my wrong. But I always thought there was more to a man then his looks. If Christine could see past the Phantom's face, what great love would she find? One that point, I am simply dying!!! to read your book. I definitely need to get a copy of Unmasqued! Bravo for finally writing the the much more anticipated love story between Christine and Eric.