Hi, everyone. A text-only version of this interview appeared in my GoodReads blog on July 17, 2010. Tracy passed away unexpectedly early this year, and I thought I would share her two-part interview with all of you over the next few days. Byron Nease, who is also mentioned in the text, has also since passed away.
Hi, everyone. Over on Facebook, Phantom fan Tracy Portis Holmes started a group called “Phantom Authors Unite.” She has kindly created this forum so that Phantom authors (and others) have a place to share their work.
Tracy recently sent out a questionnaire to several of the authors there so that she could publish interviews with us. Here is mine, with many thanks to Tracy for her generosity of spirit in giving us a stage.
How long have you been a Phantom Phan?
More than 30 years, since I first read Gaston Leroux’s novel. That’s how I came to the fandom.
Have you read Gaston Leroux’s original novel?
What qualities did Gerard Butler bring to the character that you found unique?
I believe that each actor brings something unique to the role of Erik. Gerard Butler’s performance is just one of many that I admire, although in many ways I thought he was too young for the part. My favorite Phantom is Earl Carpenter, whom I saw on-stage in London. He sang to me, and I was immediately enthralled.
One of the things that disturbed me was the thought of this man being denied a sexual relationship. Did that motivate you in any way in writing your novel?
Erik’s virginity was not a motivating factor (and it’s not mentioned in Leroux one way or the other, even though it is strongly implied there while being spelled out in ALW). One of the things I did point out in my book was that the shah must have presumed that Erik was no different from a eunuch if he let him run around the harem.
Without giving any spoilers, how did you resolve The Phantom’s obvious obsession with Christine?
He met Claire, of course. 🙂
Was seeing Erik have a marriage and a family important to you and why?
Having unconditional love from an equal was more important to me than Erik having a child. To say more would give spoilers for the book. 🙂
I prefer the unmasked Erik. Does the heroine of your novel feel the same and how does that come about?
Erik’s face doesn’t scare Claire, because she’s seen worse. Her fiance, Philippe, is badly burned when he rescues Claire’s horse from a barn fire and eventually suicides because of the pain from his injuries. She nursed him, and would still have married him. No fear from her.
Did you ever think of exploring the possibility of Erik having a child that was deformed as he?
Is Madame Giry and/or Meg Giry in your novel? Why or why not?
Madame is; Meg is not. Meg was such an ancillary character in Leroux that I didn’t feel like including her.
Lastly, have you ever seen ALW’s play on stage, if so any thoughts, if not, do you hope to? Have you seen any other Phantom stories on stage or movies you are fond of?
I’ve seen ALW’s show in London and Sacramento, a non-musical version of the play in Antioch, the Charles Dance (aka Yeston/Kopit), Claude Rains, Herbert Lom, Lon Chaney and Robert Englund films. I have cast albums from Canada, the UK, Germany, Italy, Japan and Mexico, as well as the cast album for the Yeston/Kopit “Phantom.” The Lon Chaney version is the closest one to Leroux and so I’m very fond of it. However, I love the Canadian cast; I’ve been fortunate enough to become acquainted with Byron Nease, who played Raoul in that cast. He is just the dearest man. I wish I had seen the wonderful Franc d’Ambrosio in the role (he has the record for most performances as the Phantom); Jeff and I have gotten to know him over the past few years and he absolutely has the voice of an angel.