Are you ready? The Phantom (as in ‘of the Opera’) time-traveling to the modern day. HOW SWEET IS THAT IDEA? It blows my mind! Of course it does, because it’s not my idea! It belongs to Cassandra Chandler. Her debut novel releases today. After reading it (and loving it) I was able to ask her a few questions (no spoilers). Check it out and then check out ‘Wandering Soul’.
So Cassandra, I think it’s fair to spill the fact that this story is about Dante (the Phantom of the Opera) time-traveling to the modern day. I couldn’t love this idea more and I loved Dante’s reactions. What was your favorite part about writing his perceptions of modern life?
Writing Dante was such a treat. He’s actually the character who taught me the main theme of the book—letting go of the past. He was able to adapt quickly to the modern world by throwing himself whole-heartedly into it. That takes a lot of courage. Plus he has so much enthusiasm and curiosity. It was great to write that while tempering it with his desire to protect Elsa’s secret. He wanted to ask questions of everyone constantly, but knew that would make people wonder where the heck he came from. It was great to write a character who was so open-minded and willing to leave behind everything he was familiar with in order to start over. He’s really building a new perception of himself in relation to the modern world.
You use masks as a theme, but not just for Dante. His romantic interest, Elsa, is adept at masking a lot in her life. What is she hiding?
Oh, I’m so glad you picked up on that. I don’t want to spoil Elsa’s backstory or how that unfolds throughout the book, but she’s hiding so much more than just her ability to time travel. The main thing she’s hiding (from everyone except Dante) is her constant fear. Her friends see her as this massive control freak who likes to take charge of situations. They’re clueless about the deep-rooted fear that drives her to do so, or its origins. She also has a lot of work to do on how she perceives herself before she can really let go and give herself to a happy-ever-after with Dante.
As you were writing, did you characters ever surprise you? How?
One of the more pleasant surprises was Dante’s sense of humor. He’s an extremely playful person. I loved that he had preserved that even after having so much darkness in his life—not just as a coping mechanism but because it’s part of his core personality.
This book is brimming with side-characters. I loved Jazz. She had such spirit and an intuitive nature. Did you have a favorite? Who was the most fun to write?
How can I possibly choose a favorite? I loved writing Winston, with his devil-may-care attitude balanced with an obvious deep devotion to Elsa. And Jazz was super fun, of course. Wow, is she driven—to succeed, to protect her friends, to enjoy life as much as she possibly can. Rachel was definitely the most challenging to write, but you’ll find out more about that in the next book. I think I’m going to have to say that I loved writing Garrett the most as a secondary character inWandering Soul. He’s so down to earth and loving. Writing the beginnings of his bromance with Dante was especially rewarding.
Seems like you did your research for this book. Did you run across any historical gems that you just couldn’t quite fit into the narrative? Here’s a chance to share them with us!
I’m very focused when I do research. I actually used everything I found, even though I only alluded to quite a bit of it. Most of my research involved making sure the timelines matched up for technical developments and what Dante was aware of. For instance, it had to be believable that Dante wouldn’t freak out or be too confused when he encountered a car, but that he was fascinated by the overhead light and synthetic materials that made up the back seat.
Finally, since this is your first published book – what has the process been like for you? Any surprises (good or bad)?
Publishing ‘Wandering Soul’ has been an incredible experience. It’s been so enlightening and everyone at Samhain has been amazing (especially my editor, Holly Atkinson). There’s much more going on behind the scenes than I realized, even after years of researching the industry. The processes were incredibly streamlined—there was (and is) so much to do! It makes me appreciate my writing time when it’s just my characters and I even more, since I need to set aside time for the logistics of getting my books out into the world.
I know you have some stuff in the pipeline. What’s next for you on the publishing front?
‘Wandering Soul’ is the first book in ‘The Summer Park Psychics’ series. The second book, ‘Whispering Hearts’, will be coming out in January. The epilogue of ‘Wandering Soul’ lets you know who is featured in ‘Whispering Hearts’. I’ll be writing the third book in this series over the summer, making sure the secondary characters get their happy-ever-afters! For those adventurous readers who don’t want to wait till January for another Cassandra Chandler piece, I have another series starting up in October. ‘Gray Card’ is the first novella in my scifi erotic romantic comedy series, ‘The Department of Homeworld Security’. It is full of puns and…probing. I’m waiting on the final word for the second novella in that series (it’s on my editor’s desk) and am already writing the third in that series.
Do you have questions or comments for Cassandra? Post ’em below!
Elsa Sinclair’s ability to bring stunning realism to her historical novels is a secret she must never reveal. She does her research first-hand—by traveling back in time.
When she stumbles across the man behind the legendary Phantom of the Opera, she is moved by his strength, his kindness…and the moments when his solitary existence seems unbearable. She can’t simply sit by and leave him to his fiery fate.
A man out of time…
Dante Lucerne is shocked to find himself pulled from certain death and carried to another time and continent. The new world is full of wonders, not the least of which is the woman who saved him.
A darkness threatens…
As Elsa helps Dante adjust to his new world, she makes a terrifying discovery—she is falling in love. And it is Dante who must find a way to help her let go of secrets that run deeper than her power. Into the very heart of what they could lose if he fails…
Contains a fiery heroine, a brilliant hero, and a love passionate enough to span a century.
Cassandra Chandler has studied folklore and mythology for her entire life and been accused of taking fairy tales a bit too seriously. In her youth, when not reading or watching science-fiction movies, she could be found running through the wilds of Ohio and Florida. Raised in a household where tarot readings and viewing auras were considered mundane, she spends her time writing and trying to appear normal. At least the writing is working out.
Her romances range from sweet to scorching, set in extraordinary worlds and driven by characters searching for a deep and lasting love. Her sincere hope is to make her readers look twice at that knobby old tree and perhaps decide to keep salt packets within easy reach, just in case…
She has always seen the starry sky as a destination rather than a matte painting. Her primary residence is on earth, where she lives with her amazing family and a wide variety of stuffed animals, many of whom have multiple PhDs. You can follow her thoughts on writing, life and mostly writing at www.cassandra-chandler.com or see her real-time ramblings on Twitter (@casschandler). She loves to hear from readers through email at firstname.lastname@example.org!