So, today is release day for A Haunting Duet, Act 5 of my serial novel, Master of the Opera.
I have something to confess about this novel: I totally broke all the rules.
When I first set out to write my version of Phantom of the Opera – because that’s what drove me, wanting to write an erotically fulfilling take on that story – I did it the traditional way. Like Andrew Lloyd Webber before me, I set the tale in the same Paris opera house as Gaston Theroux did, where the legends originated. I went for the same time period, the same essential characters.
I got about 10,000 words into it.
Why? Because it didn’t work for me. I was going through the motions, replicating a story someone else had already told.
Besides – what do I know from historical Parisian opera houses??
So, I put the story aside as a non-starter and wrote something else. I was sad about it, because I’d been excited for the possibilities at first. But no. Alas.
You know what worked? Breaking the damn rules!
I’d been so constrained by what had gone before, by the history and the culture and the era and the freaking tradition that I couldn’t find the story in there. What worked was setting it in the modern day, at the Santa Fe Opera, a place I knew well. Once I started down that road, the story took on its own life. From there it went in directions I didn’t anticipate, drawing on the cultural history of the desert Southwest – with Native American spirits and the bloody legacy of Conquistadors.
Breaking the rules made Master of the Opera into a different story than I planned on – but it also made it come alive, into a story I loved and could be proud to call my own.
Sometimes, that makes all the difference.