Welcome readers! If you love historical fiction or classic literature, you will love what author Jennifer Linforth has in store for you to read. Today we welcome Ms. Linforth to Coffee Time Romance & More to discuss her book, Madrigal: A Novel of Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera, as well as her upcoming sequel.
Your most recent book, Madrigal: A Novel of Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera, which I read and reviewed for Coffee Time Romance is absolutely beautifully written. How long have you been writing?
I have been writing since I was a child, shipping off my first query letter when I was twelve. I began writing actively for publication about four years ago.
What inspired you to write a novel based on a classic such as The Phantom of the Opera?
I was revisiting works of classic literature. In doing so I stumbled across a book continuing Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I loved every minute of it. In my opinion it flawlessly wove the original story with Austen's tale. From there I found other writers who did the same with other works. I was a bit shocked that such was a practice with works in the public domain at first.
When I reread Leroux's novel I began to see why writers continued tales. The book left many more questions then answers-as was Leroux's trademark. A voracious researcher all my life, I began to read about France in the Victorian era, which led to me studying the history of opera. This fostered a desire to understand Leroux more. Why an opera house? What motivated him? How did he view France during the time of this novel since much of Leroux seemed to focus on political satire and class differences. Why-as a jurist-did he leave so many unanswered questions?
However it was the character Philippe de Chagny that sparked the idea for Madrigal. His life and death play a major role in the series.
How many times have you seen The Phantom of the Opera film and/or musical?
I believe I saw the stage show four times, twice on Broadway and twice in traveling renditions. Webber's movie... just a handful. I was also lucky to catch Ken Hill's musical when it toured the US. That is based off of Leroux. The Madrigals are strictly Leroux based so I tend to shy away from Webber's ideas.
To me, Erik seems like a villain, who is easy to sympathize with. Why do you think he has such an effect on readers?
The nature of Erik births sympathy. He is the deformed and misunderstood genius, the abused dog on the street that everyone passes by in their rush to fend for themselves. Everyone has some element within that brings him or her low self-esteem and makes him or her feel like that abandoned dog. Some overcome it, others don't.
Erik's plight feeds into that and make readers understand his need for love. Readers glance over his murderous past and his treatment of Christine by rationalizing it thusly: if the world was only kinder and gentler to those misunderstood none of that would have ever happened.
However, much depends on the versions you follow.
Webber's Erik is vastly different from Gaston Leroux's. In Webber's film and musical we see a mildly deformed man, clearly oozing sex appeal, who happens to have murdered out of anger. Webber stripped away the unattainable and parts of Leroux's story to leave the basic romance as the focus.
I stand behind my belief that Erik was a madman. In Leroux he was a murderously vengeful personality while concurrently being a repressed and ardent gentleman. Erik was not handsome or sexy. He had issues with maternal longings just as Christine had issues with paternal needs. While a highly sensual being, he was not a sexual object as many popular versions make him to be. Leroux penned him as a monster for a reason and I did my best to adhere to his original ideas for the story. Naturally, certain elements were changed to suit the limits of my imagination and to reach the broader market desired by my publisher. All this is outlined in detail in the book. I did not take making changes to Leroux's vision lightly.
Have you been to France?
Alas not yet, however I will be going. I love research. I was fortunate in crafting MADRIGAL to be able to use Mead's doctoral thesis on Charles Garnier as a reference for the history of the Opera Garnier. With that and my contacts with several authorities on the opera house, I had a delightful time quenching my thirst for research.
With many other books set in France in the works, I certainly will be heading over.
Do you have any other published works? If so, what genre?
I write historical fiction and historical romance, and in addition to The Madrigals have several books being reviewed by agents and editors.
The sequel to Madrigal is Abendlied, which is due to be released in October 2009. Can you give us the basic premise of this book? Does it continue to follow Christine?
ABENDLIED can be read prior to Madrigal even though it continues the manhunt in the first book. It follows all characters as they endure the manhunt and introduces a brilliant yet often forgotten part of Leroux's plot:
He understands murder. He understands manhunts. He does not understand love. Desiring a normal life is hard enough with an unjust price on his head, but when Erik is falsely accused of killing Philippe, de Chagny, brother of his nemesis, Raoul, he is launched toward the one thing he
loathes: his madness.
Anna is an unlikely companion, sharing Erik's heart and the bounty on his head. As the manhunt heats, and Erik's mysterious relationship with Philippe launches a campaign against them, it exposes her darkest
secret: defending her honor ended in murder.
While vengeance drives Raoul forward with the manhunt, Erik must overcome the charges and resist the comfort of madness. Plagued by his past as the Phantom of the Opera, and memories of Philippe, Erik must salvage his sanity or risk losing Anna. But when those memories make his heart fall prey to Raoul's wife, Christine, only Philippe's past can save him.
When a shocking admission regarding Erik brings a ruthless bounty hunter into the fray it does more then provide Chagny with a means to ascertain Philippe's murderer and bring Erik to justice. It brings blackmail to the Chagny bloodline... Blackmail from a hunter who cares little about the Phantom or Philippe, and everything about the one person he has lusted after for years: Anna. With the past weeping like an open wound, can love endure or will it take the memories of one unlikely man to heal them all? Memories of Philippe Georges Marie, Comte de Chagny...
Do you have any other upcoming books or projects that that your readers can look forward to?
In addition to ABENDLIED's release, book three of The Madrigals is in progress and will be on my editor's desk come the fall. There is the possibility of a fourth if called for. I have a historical romance, ADELRUNE, set in 1866 Austria with an autistic heroine that is being marketed and several historicals in the works. One work in progress focuses on Ringstrasse Theater fire in Vienna (the fire Webber possibly uses as a model for his movie). Another rolling in my mind is a light hearted historical about Death and his antics in Regency England and one that tells the story of a headstone carver in France.
Do you have a website that you would like to share?
I'd love to share all my links.
Blogger: http://jenniferlinforth.blogspot.com Here I blog about themes in Phantom of the Opera, daily madness, and the process of writing
And Twitter: http:/twitter.com/J_Linforth
Thank you for your time, Ms. Linforth. We at Coffee Time Romance & More look forward to seeing many more books from you.