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.