Welcome to Novel PASTimes. Please tell us a little about yourselves as an introduction.
Meg: I’m so happy to be here talking with you! My name’s Meg Giry, and I live in Paris with my mother. We came to Paris six years ago when I was twelve. The city was confusing at first, but I love it now. I’m a dancer in the corps de ballet at the Opera Garnier.
Erik: I don’t like talking to strangers. Or anyone, actually. So I’m not that happy about being here, but…I don’t know, sometimes I think maybe I need people. Mostly, though, I’m certain they’re not going to be friendly to a man in a mask. This may be why I live alone under an opera house and make people believe I’m a phantom. Maybe that’s why. I’m admitting nothing.
I’m hearing a connection with the opera house. How do you two know each other?
Meg: We don’t, actually—not yet, at least, but I keep hoping we will. We met once by chance when I first arrived at the Opera Garnier, and he was kinder than all the spooky stories about the Phantom of the Opera claimed. I haven’t believed those stories ever since, and I’ve been looking out for a chance to bump into him again.
Erik: I don’t exactly remember meeting, but if she says so, I guess it’s true. Mostly I just know she’s the daughter of my boxkeeper, Madame Giry.
Meg: Oh, we have a mutual friend too! Christine Daaé is my closest friend, and lately she’s claimed an Angel of Music is teaching her to sing. I’m fairly sure I know who’s behind that.
Erik: I’m still admitting nothing.
You both seem to be involved with the arts. Meg, you mentioned the ballet, and that your friend is a singer. Erik, are you a singer?
Erik: I sing, yes. Not for anyone to hear but yes, I can sing. I identify more as a composer, possibly the greatest there’s ever been.
You think well of yourself.
Erik: I really don’t.
So what other interests do you each have?
Meg: I love the ballet, but it’s not my only focus in life, like many of the women I dance with. I’m so interested in everything else going on at the Opera Garnier – the singing, the productions, and everything happening in the lives of the people there. I also like exploring Paris, walking by the Seine or attending Easter mass at Notre Dame Cathedral. I’d love to be able to travel and visit more of the world, but that’s not easy to do in the 1880s!
Erik: I never leave the Opera. Almost never. Sometimes I have to buy food, but then I go out in the twilight when there are plenty of shadows. Haunting the opera house keeps me very busy anyway: spreading frightening stories, giving advice on the productions, dripping fake blood down the walls. I spend much of my time composing music too. Sometimes I enjoy a good book; two of my favorites are The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Frankenstein. It’s possible I identify too closely with certain characters in those books.
Are there things you’d like to change in your lives?
Erik: Most things. But I doubt very much that’s possible. I have my music and my opera house and that should be enough. If I’m tangled up with Christine Daaé—and I’m still not confirming whether I am—I’m sure it can only end badly.
Meg: I’d like people to stop thinking of me as just my mother’s daughter or Christine’s friend. I want to have a role that matters in something important. I want to be the heroine of my own life, because I often don’t feel that way.
Erik: I’d like to stop feeling like the villain in my life.
I hope the story will bring you each what you’re looking for. Thanks so much for sharing with us!
Cheryl Mahoney lives in California and dreams of other worlds. She is the author of the Guardian of the Opera trilogy, exploring the Phantom of the Opera story from a new perspective. The first book, Nocturne, was published June 5, 2020, and can be found on Amazon and Goodreads. Cheryl also wrote the Beyond the Tales quartet, retelling familiar fairy tales, but subverting expectations with new twists to the tales. She loves exploring new worlds in the past, the future or fairyland, and builds her stories around characters finding their way through those worlds – especially characters overlooked or underestimated by the people around them. Cheryl has been blogging since 2010 at Tales of the Marvelous (http://marveloustales.com).