Hi, everyone. Today I’m going to talk about how I came to write In The Eye of The Beholder, my debut novel. I touched on it briefly in a post last year, but I’ll go into a little bit more of it today.
Like many people, I saw the 2004 Phantom of the Opera film. I knew the story from having read the book, and was quite familiar with the music. I wound up seeing the film three times in the theatre. Something happened after the second time that I still can’t quite explain. I was so struck with emotion that I couldn’t have more than a perfunctory conversation about anything for nearly three days. I didn’t speak, but I thought a lot. During that time, the story idea came to me in the form of “What if the Phantom fell in love with a less naive, and definitely more sane, woman instead of Christine?”
I didn’t set out to write a novel. The initial plan was for a short story about an equestrian whose husband was in the hospital after an injury, who then fell asleep and dreamed about living in the Paris Opera in the late 19th C. The dream sequence grew and grew until it was, itself, a full-length novel, and I eventually ditched the framing story.
When I wrote the story, I was myself an equestrian athlete, riding dressage. I was nowhere near the level of skill and education that my heroine(s) were in the initial story, but I had aspirations.
Anyway, my inspiration for the heroine, Claire Delacroix, was multifactorial. Claire knew things I knew about riding, of course. However, I also wanted her to be a vehicle for showing something of women’s lives in the 19th C., as well as for showing compassion toward animals and one’s fellow man.
It took me four years to write the book. I had a day job that was stressful, and I used my writing to escape. At one point, I wrote myself into a corner that took quite a while to fix. Plus, I was researching as I wrote; I hadn’t yet learned to limit my research time to a set duration.
I sent the first three chapters to a publisher, who then asked for the full manuscript. I got a lengthy, detailed rejection letter that made me angry (no one likes to have their baby called ugly …). I put it aside for several months, and then I pulled it out again. While I didn’t agree with all of their criticisms, I did see a few things that would make it a stronger book and I set to work re-editing. To make a long story short, I eventually wound up with both a UK and US contract for the book. The rights have subsequently reverted to me in both cases and I re-released the book myself.
Want your own copy of In The Eye of The Beholder? Here are the blurb and purchasing links:
When French equestrian Claire Delacroix loses her fiancé in a tragic accident, she comes to live at the Paris Opera during its 1890s heyday. Life is not easy for a woman in fin de siècle France, where her rights are determined by a male guardian. Claire, both intelligent and independent, chafes under the strictures of her time.
Whilst working at the opera, she meets a mysterious, masked stranger: Erik. Is it possible that the two of them will heal the pain of each other’s past?
Updated for 2015 with glossaries of equestrian terms and French words used in the text.
Amazon (This link will automatically click through to the correct site for your country)
Rakuten Overdrive (via your local library)