Today we welcome resident WU oracle and Francophile Heather Webb to talk about her newest novel, The Phantom’s Apprentice. Her latest page turner will be available for your reading pleasure on February 6,2018.
Heather Webb is the international bestselling author of historical novels Becoming Josephine, Rodin’s Lover, Last Christmas in Paris, and the anthology Fall of Poppies, which have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, France Magazine and more, as well as received national starred reviews. In 2015, Rodin’s Lover was selected as a Goodreads Top Pick. To date, Heather’s novels have sold in multiple countries worldwide. She is also a professional freelance editor, foodie, and travel fiend, and lives in New England with her family and one feisty rabbit.
“Webb combines music and magic seamlessly in The Phantom’s Apprentice, weaving glittering new threads into the fabric of a classic story. Romantic, suspenseful and inventive, this novel sweeps you along to its breathless conclusion.” — Greer Macallister, USA Today bestselling author of The Magician’s Lie and Girl in Disguise
The Phantom’s Apprentice will be featured on the Entertainment Weekly website in two weeks! We’re thrilled to celebrate this accomplishment with her.
Q1: What’s the premise of your new book?
My new book is a re-imagining of The Phantom of the Opera from Christine Daaé’s point of view, featuring illusionists, spiritualism, mystery, and all of the Gothic, glittering darkness of the original.
Q2: What would you like people to know about the story itself?
I’ll start by saying that it’s inspired by Gaston Leroux and Andrew Lloyd Webber, of course, but it’s also inspired by a book I love dearly—The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I wanted to transport readers to this lush and atmospheric world set in one of my favorite eras: Belle Époque France, complete with hackney cabs, gilded mirrors, crushed velvet, ghosts, and masquerade balls. Plus a dash of romance and self-discovery never hurt anything.
And now to get to more of the nitty gritty. When I reread the original novel by Gaston Leroux, I was surprised by how one-dimensional all of the female characters (well, most of the characters) are. They’re more like caricatures of a personality type. Christine is innocent and virtuous, and a sort of shrinking violet, and Carlotta is this haughty, spoiled diva whom everyone despises. I found that curious, but the stage play version demonstrates this same aspect. Today’s readers demand more than that—I know I certainly do—so I set out to give each character in the large cast new dimensions, motivations, and a secret side to them that phantom lovers have never seen before.
There were a couple of new characters that I hadn’t planned on, too, who butted their way into the narrative unexpectedly. When Delacroix showed up, I thought “who the heck is this guy and what does he want?” It led me down the spiritualism path—a prominent movement during the era upon which magicians drew for many of their “tricks”.
So yes, this is a book of not just the opera, but magic! Muahahaha!
Q3: What do your characters have to overcome in this story? What challenge do you set before them?