Monday, January 4, 2010

This Week At The Tiki Hut - Jennifer Linforth

This week at the Tiki Hut is author Jennifer Linforth who talks about why she tackled Leroux's Phantom of the Opera in her historical series published by Highland Press.

If one is going to query a publisher, Jennifer Linforth suggests not doing so in pink ink. Her first, written when she was twelve, was nothing if not colorful. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Romance Writers of America in addition to being a writing mentor. Writing historical fiction and historical romance with unusual themes and locations, such as autism and the social mores of the mentally ill in the 19th century, she has a passion for Austrian culture and is often found searching for stories in long forgotten histories.

It was her love of research and classic literature that brought her to expanding Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera.

Writing from a tiny loft office, Jennifer admits to being country mouse with city mouse tastes and is constantly fighting to keep the little critters in line. She can't pronounce pistachio, hates lollipops with gooey centers, and dearly loves to laugh. If asked for her motto in life, she points to the following poem upon her office wall:

Come to the edge. We might fall. Come to the edge. It's too high! COME TO THE EDGE! And they came, and he pushed, and they flew. ~ Christopher Logue Croyez.

Visit Jennifer's Website *** Blog *** Myspace *** Facebook *** Twitter


Everyone wants to undress Mr. Darcy in one way or another. Whether literally, or by expanding his story, readers yearn to dive deeper between his sheets. So why then did I choose to do so to a Phantom?

The Phantom of the Opera has one of the largest and most devoted fan followings in the world. Choosing to expand such a classic came with an impending sense of doom. Would this idea be embraced like the countless tales of Pemberly after the nuptials? Or would I be tarred and feathered…

I had to find out. The result was a three book series contracted by Highland Press Publishing, and one which has, thus far, left this author thankfully featherless.

Certain stories transcend time leaving more questions than answers. No author made me question as much as Gaston Leroux. My love for The Phantom of the Opera stemmed from a deep respect for a book that was a mystery, horror and romance rolled into one. After revisiting Leroux’s novel for the third time the questions in my head would not fade. Why—as a jurist—did he leave so many unanswered questions in such a fascinating book?

The only way to find out was to devote years of my imagination to living deep below an opera house with a corpse-like madman.

The first challenge? Breaking down the visions created by Andrew Lloyd Webber. His musical and 2004 movie starring Gerald Butler created an iconic image of The Phantom and the story as a whole. Leroux’s original is quite different from the romantic, famous love triangle of Webber’s that millions of fans saw and fell in love with. 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 parts of Leroux’s story to leave a basic romance as the focus. In Leroux, Erik (The Phantom), was a murderously vengeful personality… a clear madman, while concurrently being a repressed and ardent gentleman. He was the central character in a Death and the Maiden tale. Hideously deformed and hiding behind a full black mask, he slept in a coffin. He had issues with maternal longings just as Christine had issues with paternal needs. Leroux penned him as a monster for a reason. I did my best to adhere to his original ideas for my series while maintaining there was indeed a man with in the madman. Naturally, certain elements were changed to suit the limits of my imagination and to reach the broader market desired by my publisher.

The second challenge? Weaving enough of Leroux’s original story into the fabric of the series so readers could enjoy it without needing to read Leroux’s book first. Book one in my series, MADRIGAL, (released October 2008) begins four years after Leroux’s original ended.

Despite all of the above, Erik was a simply seeking the most basic of human emotions--love. Yet how can one when love society sees you as nothing more than a deviant of the underground?

You fake your death and start anew…

Sharing the back cover blurb for MADRIGAL:
Years ago he faked his death and vowed the Phantom would never again haunt the Opera Garnier. But strange packages left by Anna, an unwanted Samaritan turned unlikely friend, causes Erik to desire the unattainable—love.

When Anna’s haunted past puts Christine DaaĆ© in danger, Erik is falsely accused of the vicious crime. The Phantom is reborn as Erik, forced to the brink of insanity, revisits his passion for Christine—the woman he once swore to possess. Fighting the injustice against Erik, Anna struggles to prove his innocence. Standing in the way is her past that cannot be transcended, and years of prejudice labeling Erik more monster than man.

Battling the nobleman determined to lock him away, Erik must save Christine, control his demons, and tame a heart unexpectedly beating for two opposite women. Christine, who he longs to love, and Anna: the woman who saw beyond his bitter soul to the man beneath the mask.

In the midst of a brutal manhunt, can he be loved for himself or is he condemned to be The Phantom of the Opera?

Murderer, Maestro, Magician, Mastermind.

ABENDLIED, book two of The Madrigals releases January 2010 and continues to expose more of Erik and the manhunt to bring him to justice. ABENDLIED can be read prior to MADRIGAL even though it continues the first book. It follows all characters as they endure the manhunt and introduces an often forgotten part of Leroux’s plot:

Desiring normalcy is difficult enough with a price on his head, but when Erik is falsely accused of killing Philippe de Chagny, brother of his nemesis Raoul, he is launched toward madness.

Anna is an unlikely companion, sharing Erik's heart and the bounty on his head. As the manhunt heats, Erik's mysterious relationship with Philippe spurs the campaign against them forward, and exposes her darkest secret: defending her honor ended in murder.

Plagued by his past as The Phantom of the Opera, Erik's memories enslave his heart to Raoul’s wife Christine, whose shocking confession brings a ruthless bounty hunter into the fray and blackmail to the Chagny bloodline. Blackmail from a hunter who cares little about the Phantom or Philippe, and everything about the one he has lusted for: Anna.

With the past weeping like an open wound, can love endure or will it take memories of one unlikely man to heal them all?

Memories of Philippe Georges Marie, Comte de Chagny...

Philippe de Chagny was a vital secondary character in Leroux’s original story and my favorite of all classic literature. It was his story that sparked the creation of this series. A series I hope readers will continue to embrace long after I put down my quill. For those who are more adventurous, once I am done writing stories that expand classic literature I can loan them some feathers… I leave it to them to find the tar!



  1. Welcome to the Tiki Hut, Jennifer!

    I love what you've done here and I think you've done a fantastic job with it. I know everyone who reads the story have always wondered what happens next and I for one am glad you decided to share with the world your vision of "what if".

    Is there another classic you'd like to tackle after this series is finished?

    Enjoy your week and best of luck with the series and your recently released book two.

  2. I never truly pondered it! For some odd reason, Jane Eyre jumped into my head just now... which I find odd seeing as that is so different from the tone and style of Leroux.

    I have several works of historical fiction being marketed now and will take some time to focus on them.

    If my readers desire, there is a fourth book in The Madrigals. I have not made up my mind as to if I will submit it yet.

  3. Hey Jen! I LOVE these books! I never read the classic Leroux and (shhh, don't tell) never read/saw Phantom of the Opera. But the way you've drawn these characters has made me fall in love with them. And I'm not sure I should admit it, but I love your villain, Loup. He's so evil and sinister. I just can't help myself.

  4. Very interesting blog post, Jennifer. I read the book many many years ago in school...wasn't as thrilled to read it back then because I had to for school, but I do remember the story fondly and have always wanted to go back and revisit it as an adult who wants to read the story.

    Does your series pick up right after the original story ends? Do you suggest reading or in my case re-reading the original before reading yours? Will it enhance the reading?

    Best of luck with your books and I look forward to reading them both.

  5. @ Lauri Jo...

    The Madrigals pick up four year after the events in Leroux's original story. MADRIGAL, book one, was designed in such a way that enough backstory of Leroux's original was built into it that there is no need to read his story. I have had several readers contact me to say they read Leroux after Madrigal and discovered his story for the first time. A true reward for me!

    Leroux's style is unique. You may love it as an adult--especially if you compare his story to the version Webber crafted, which IMO is very different.

  6. @ Nina Pierce...

    How I end up writing such men as Loup is far beyond me... O_o

  7. I love everything Phantom! If one is in love with the Webber version, will they enjoy yours as well? Sounds like a truer and much different version. I'll bet fans of the novel love you for picking up the pieces and continuing the story.

  8. @ Jerry B:

    Fans of the Webber version seem to enjoy the series as well. The Madrigals are Leroux based--so you will not see that sexy Erik many fell in love with. I have a lot of Webber fans following my updates arond the net.

  9. Wow. Great idea for a series. The story is one of my favorites and I have for many years pondered on it myself. I love that you've taken a hold of it and done something with it. I will most certainly check out the first book (I need to read a series in order the way an author intended).

    There are so many classic pieces of literature I'd love to see continued on!

    Best of luck with your writing and I hope to be enjoying The Madrigal very soon.


  10. The research you must have done to write these two books must have been incredible!

    How many times did you read the original?

    I'm heading to your site to read the excerpts now, they both sound very good. What would you say is the amount of romance in them. Are they more adventure or more romance?


  11. Hi, Jennifer! Brava! I am a Phantom devotee. I admire you for expanding the realm of some very classic characters.

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com