Having spent a fair while on this book, I have a lot of thoughts about it and wasn't too sure where I should put them...then I remembered that I had a blog dedicated to my writing and where better to put them than here! So apologies in advance for the sheer volume of information I'll end up putting here, but if you want to know more about why I wrote this book, and why it turned out like it did, then this is where you'll find it!
Ever since discovering The Phantom of the Opera back in 2004 (when I was 12 and the film came out!) I've loved it, and it's a love I've shared with my best friend, Anna, ever since. We went to see the show on stage a few years back and it was well and truly magical. Made more so by the fact I bought tickets and then told Anna we were going! So really this book was written for Anna, and her encouragment while I was writing it had a big impact on the story.
I put a lot of myself, and a lot of Anna, into my two main female characters, Annabelle and Hayley...and no my main character wasn't actually consiously named after my best friend, but I did notice that after I'd been writing for over a month, by then Annabelle was already a fully formed character in my head and changing her name just wasn't going to happen (though I have nothing against changing names...in fact my main character in the Alventia series, Keira, had her name changed after I'd written book 1!)
As it works out though I think Hayley more accurately portrays how I see Anna. She'll call me out on stuff and won't let me wallow, as well as allowing me to be myself around her, just like Annabelle can be. However my characters are just that, characters. They're not meant to be me and Anna, but there's no way I could write a best friend bond without our own coming through!
The first scene I wrote was the scene where Annabelle and Jack work out the choreography to Masquerade, which is one of my favourite pieces of music from Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical and I sent it to Anna with the caption "I need your opinion and feel free to tell me you hate it." Her suggestion was then going into the horror genre, which I hadn't actually thought about, and that then developed into a more pschological story over the course of a conversation. She warily suggested (because of certain events in my own past) that I create an abusive ex as the Phantom and have the story be Annabelle's way of dealing with the past.
Originally Toby was only going to be a part of Annabelle's memories, but then somehow (probably because I am no good at actually planning before writing!) he became entwined in the story and actually appeared. This helped me with the rivalry between him and Jack, as well as having Annabelle actually deal with him.
While I never went through anything as bad as I put Annabelle through with her ex, I did have a possessive and controlling one when I was 16-18, which I think is where a lot of the things that happened with Annabelle came out. What she went through is what I worry I could have gone through if I hadn't got out of such a toxic relationship, and I don't think many people even realise that.
I will admit that Leroux's book The Phantom of the Opera didn't play a massive role in my inspiration, other than the fact I love the gothic style and the darkness of the characters. I don't think I quite realised how dark I got in some parts of this book, it was only when I started reading through my draft that I actually noticed!
Now onto the slightly happier subjects! The cover and the title. Even before I finished the book I had a good idea of how I wanted the cover to look, but the title completely escaped me. Even after I'd settled on one I was unsure about it for a long time!
Three years ago, Annabelle escaped from the man that had been abusing and controlling her life from the age of seventeen. Now, Annabelle guards her heart fiercely, from everyone except her best friend, Hayley.
As the assistant director of an amateur performance of the Phantom of the Opera, Annabelle needs everything to be perfect. When strange events and notes start to plague Annabelle's time at the theatre, the true extent of her ex-boyfriend’s obsession begins to make itself known.
Then, there’s Jack; the charming leading man determined to break through the walls surrounding her heart - even if he doesn’t know why they’re there.
Can she let herself trust him? Or will her past continue to haunt her?