The Story Behind an Erotic Sequel
A conversation between Mitzi Szereto and Ashley Lister
Mitzi: Can you believe Phantom: The Immortal has been ten years in the making? I have no idea where the time went, but you’d be surprised at how quickly ten years can pass for two very busy authors! I guess Ashley and I both ended up being pulled in other directions and onto other projects, but thank goodness we got there in the end.
Ashley: It’s been a wonderful experience. As writers we usually do things in isolation but being able to collaborate, especially on a story as exciting as this one, has been a lot of fun.
Mitzi: Ashley and I really liked the idea of doing a contemporary sequel to Gaston Leroux’s classic The Phantom of the Opera, and back when we began our novel, virtually no one had done such a thing. What we wanted was to take the main character and bring him into the modern day, adding in some paranormal themes such as immortality and reincarnation.
Ashley: The original is very sexy in its own way. You have characters who are overpowering, domineering and submissive. But the eroticism of that original story was very much between the lines. We wanted to produce something where the sexual frisson was a little more foregrounded.
Mitzi: In our version, the Phantom has been living beneath the Paris Opera House all this time when suddenly a beautiful young soprano, the mirror image of his Christine Daaé, appears for an audition. Needless to say, he must have her at all costs and he sets out to do precisely that. How he goes about it…well, let’s just say that our Phantom is no shrinking violet when it comes to making his desires known. He’s had a lot of time to get all hot and bothered in that underground lair of his and a lot of time to think of some interesting ways to satisfy his sexual (and kinky) urges!
Ashley: Kinky? I believe the saying is: it’s only kinky the first time. Personally I’d say romantic with a lascivious flair. Perhaps we should start marketing that as a new genre?
Mitzi: Indeed! But Phantom: The Immortal is a lot of things; it’s erotic romance, Gothic romance, paranormal romance and romantic suspense. I think it will fit a lot of reading tastes.
Technically, this is the first time I’ve worked with another author on a book, though as some of you may know. I’ve since gone on to write my cozy mystery satire series The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles with my celebrity bear Teddy Tedaloo. Trying to co-write a novel with another author isn’t easy, but Ashley and I came up with a wonderfully logical way to go about it. We decided to take on the roles of the two main characters: the Phantom and Christine Delacroix. I’d write a chapter as Christine, with Ashley writing the next as the Phantom, and so on and so on, switching back and forth until the book was finally completed. We even structured our novel in various “Acts” and “Scenes” to give it that theater feel. Both of these characters are so strong and have such individual voices; having us each write our character helps to strengthen that.
Ashley: In a way that approach was something of a double-edged sword. It was great to be working with a colleague whom I admire and respect. But it was also very intimidating. Once we began to exchange our chapters, Mitzi would send a fantastic piece of writing, and that would put the pressure on me to produce material to the highest standard I was capable of writing. Then, when Mitzi sent her next piece back, which was invariably better than the piece she’d sent before, I had to up my game higher.
It meant the pressure was on throughout the writing process, but I believe that means the finished product is something better than I could have ever produced on my own.
Mitzi: Ashley is too modest! But now that I see the finished product, I can’t even imagine having done this book any other way or having written it with any other author. And I’m sure Ashley will agree with me there. Or at least I hope he will!
Ashley: I agree absolutely. Now, all I need to do, is try to convince Mitzi that we should collaborate again!
Sexual desire and soul-searing need fuel this contemporary erotic sequel that relocates the original character from Gaston Leroux’s classic novel The Phantom of the Opera to present-day Paris…
While attending an auction of music memorabilia, young soprano Christine Delacroix bids on some letters written by another young soprano, Christine Daaé, who lived during the 19th century. Here she meets the handsome Compte Rezso Esterhazy, who immediately sets out to court her. Despite his attentions, Christine becomes obsessed with the Daaé letters and her namesake’s mysterious “Angel of Music”—a masked man who lived beneath the Paris Opera House.
Seemingly immortal and frozen in time, the Phantom is condemned to life below the opera house and in the shadows…until Christine Delacroix auditions for a minor role in Faust. Convinced the Christine from his past has been returned to him, he sets out for her to have the lead female role. He visits her in her dressing room to give her singing lessons, all the while remaining hidden from view. Insanely jealous over Christine’s budding romance with the Compte, the Phantom abducts her and takes her to his underground lair, where the singing lessons continue. Only this time they are far more depraved and sexual in nature.
“Just like Christine,” he murmured. Without thinking, he placed one gloved hand against the back of the mirror. If the glass hadn’t been there, he knew he would have reached out to touch her and reassure himself that she wasn’t an apparition. He snatched his hand back to his side as though he had been scalded.
Pausing briefly in her aria, Christine pulled the T-shirt over her head.
She was naked beneath.
His eyes widened. He pressed his lips tightly together, scared that the slightest sound would alert her to his presence. Fearful she might hear the deafening timpani that had replaced his heartbeat, he placed a hand over his chest as she slipped out of her jeans.
And still she sang.
The sensory overload threatened to push him past the brink of sanity. The world’s most glorious music; his life’s most profound love; her truly angelic singing voice; and the magnificence of Christine’s nudity. Swallowing, forcing his mind to go past the arousal she inspired, he tried to work his thoughts into a semblance of appropriate order. He needed to understand why and how she had returned to him, and then decide what he should do to make sure they were never again separated. He needed to approach the situation rationally and with cool detachment. Common sense told him that he would only be able to win her love by displaying reserve and restraint.
He was sickened to find himself appraising her.
In the gaudy light of the dressing room darkened only by the glass that separated them, her skin looked perfectly taut. His fingers flexed and tightened within his gloves as he imagined stroking and caressing her curves. Her bare breasts—beautifully rounded, exquisitely plump, and tipped by crinkled areolae and mocha nipples—silently begged for his touch. His gaze slipped to her crotch, and he didn’t know whether he was delighted or dismayed to discover that she was modestly wearing white panties. The flimsy cotton was darkened at the crotch by the thatch of her pubic curls. The high waistband accentuated her slender waist and drew his attention to the roundedness of her hips.
He stifled the urge to groan.
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/phantom-mitzi-szereto/1123376196
Mitzi Szereto (mitziszereto.com) is an author and anthology editor of multi-genre fiction and non-fiction. She has her own blog of humorous essays at Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog (mitziszereto.com/blog), and a web TV channel Mitzi TV (mitziszereto.com/tv), which covers the quirky side of London, England. Her books include Rotten Peaches (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) and Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)—the cozy mystery/satire series co-authored with her sidekick bear Teddy Tedaloo; The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray; Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts; Darker Edge of Desire: Gothic Tales of Romance; Love, Lust and Zombies; Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire; Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic Romance; Getting Even: Revenge Stories; and Dying For It: Tales of Sex and Death. Mitzi has pioneered erotic writing workshops in the UK and mainland Europe, teaching from the Cheltenham Festival of Literature to the Greek islands, as well as lecturing in creative writing at several British universities. Her anthology Erotic Travel Tales 2 is the first anthology of erotica to feature a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Ashley Lister (ashleylister.co.uk) is a prolific writer, having written more than two dozen full-length novels and over a hundred short stories. His most recent titles include the Sweet Temptation series from HarperCollins and the horror novel Raven and Skull, due to be released mid-2016. Aside from regularly blogging about writing, Ashley is also an occasional performance poet and teaches creative writing. He has hosted creative writing workshops at Eroticon, the annual conference for sex bloggers and erotica writers, and is the editor of Coming Together in Verse, a charity anthology of erotic poetry. Ashley is currently studying for a PhD in creative writing, focusing on short fiction. He lives in Lancashire in the UK. Visit his blog at ashleylisterauthor.blogspot.co.uk.
Mitzi Szereto website: http://mitziszereto.com
Mitzi Szereto on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mitziszereto
Mitzi Szereto on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mitziszereto.fanpage/
Ashley Lister website: http://ashleylister.co.uk
Ashley Lister on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ashleylister
Phantom: The Immortal website: http://mitziszereto.com/phantomtheimmortal/