Friday, December 20, 2013

Magical Realism and the Privilege of Retelling

Posted by: Jeffe Kennedy
January 2, 2014
Not only is Christmas racing up on me at top speed, but so is my next release date.

Actually, not just one release date, but six of them.


You see, this next one is a new thing for me: a serial novel. Though it's one book - about 90,000 words total, which is pretty standard for novels, which typically run 80-120K - it's divided in to six episodes.

January 16, 2014
In this case, because this story is a modern retelling of the Phantom of the Opera, it follows a theater structure that hearkens to the opera setting itself. So each episode is called an act.

February 6, 2014
My editor at Kensington Press, Peter Senftleben, came up with the act titles, after conferring with a friend heavily involved in opera and other musical theater.

I think they're brilliant. Each one conveys both the general theme of that act and gives a feel for the overall tone of the story. They are:

Act 1: Passionate Overture
Act 2: Ghost Aria
Act 3: Phantom Serenade
Act 4: Dark Interlude
Act 5: A Haunting Duet
Act 6: Crescendo

February 20, 2014
Each of these is a musical theater term, though some are obscure, and they reference the creepy ghost story quality of Phantom or Theater Ghost's haunting of the opera house, the seductive and forbidden romance, along with a hint of the erotic shadings I brought to this retelling.

I felt strongly, you see, that the original story left out the juciest parts. Are we really meant to believe that, when the Phantom takes Christine to his lair that he does nothing more than sing to her? Even if, as we're given to believe by both Gaston Laroux's novel and Andrew Lloyd Webber's lyrics, that the man is so scarred that he cannot perform sexually, surely the love he feels for the beautiful young ingenue would inspire him to at least attempt to seduce her.

March 6, 2014
I mean, he can touch her, right? There's a whole lot of latitude in "enjoying her beauty" beyond sitting back and admiring her from afar. After all, he can do that from Box 5 while she performs.

No, no, no - my Phantom, at least, has much more in mind for Christine once he has her away from the others and under the spell of his enchanting charm.

March 20, 2014
That's the part that always got lost for me, in both men's retellings. (I'm calling Laroux's version a retelling also, because he gathered the tales told by the theater folk who'd long passed around the stories of the Theater Ghost who haunted the Paris Opera House.) Perhaps neither man could stomach the idea of Christine preferring the Phantom over a man.

But every woman I've talked to feels certain that, in Webber's production, Christine ends up with the wrong guy.

It's a privilege that I got to tell it my way.


  1. Jeffe, I'm sure your retelling is going to have a much more interesting ending :) And I love the titles! They set a very spooky-but-sexy tone. Congrats on the upcoming release!

    1. Thanks AJ! I confess I kind of *love* my ending and it kills me that I can't talk about it yet.


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