Thursday, May 23, 2013

Many Masks of Phantom - Guest Post by Laura DeLuca


This is a very exciting post for me. Recently I signed up to read and review the first two books in the Dark Musicals Trilogy (Phantom and Demon) by Laura DeLuca.  I loved them SO much that I decided to have the author of the wonderful series do a guest post on my blog.  This is my very first guest post and I am so excited that Laura DeLuca is popping my guest post cherry!

Be sure to read all the way to the end of the post for an excerpt from Phantom, the blurb and an excerpt from Demon, and a GIVEAWAY!  Also, don't forget to come back and visit my blog on June 6, 2013 for my review of both books in the Dark Musicals Trilogy!

Blurb:

The “Phantom” was a musical phenomenon that Rebecca had always found enchanting. She had no idea that her life was about to mirror the play that was her obsession. When her high school drama club chooses “Phantom” as their annual production, Rebecca finds herself in the middle of an unlikely love triangle and the target of a sadistic stalker who uses the lines from the play as their calling card.


Rebecca lands the lead role of Christine, the opera diva, and like her character, she is torn between her two co-stars—Tom the surfer and basketball star who plays the lovable hero, and Justyn, the strangely appealing Goth who is more than realistic in the role of the tortured artist.

Almost immediately after casting, strange things start to happen both on and off the stage. Curtains fall. Mirrors are shattered. People are hurt in true phantom style. They all seem like accidents until Rebecca receives notes and phone calls that hint at something more sinister. Is Justyn bringing to life the twisted character of the phantom? Or in real life are the roles of the hero and the villain reversed? Rebecca doesn’t know who to trust, but she knows she’s running out of time as she gets closer and closer to opening night. Only when the mask is stripped away, will the twenty first century phantom finally be revealed.


Many Masks of Phantom - by Laura DeLuca

People often ask writers how they come up with their characters. Are they based off real people or are they entirely fictional? For me, it’s normally a mix of both. I might give a character the first name of one friend or the last name of another. The bad guy might have the same name as the nasty customer I had to deal with at work that day. And sometimes characters completely create themselves. But I have to admit, that the characters in Phantom were inspired by the people around me more than any other book I have written. I thought it would be fun to introduce some of the people who helped make Phantom one of my favorite novels so far.

Rebecca Hope - Rebecca is the main character, and she gets the lead role of Christine in the play. She isn't really based on anyone in particular, but I did give her a few of my own characteristics. In the first chapter, I mention that she was normally hiding in the orchestra with her violin instead of trying out for a role. That was totally me in high school.  I was always too shy to try out for the musicals, even though I really wanted to. But unlike Becca, I was actually a much better violinist than a singer anyway, so I was better off where I was. She also shares my nervous energy, and of course, we are both obsessed with the Phantom of the Opera in all its incarnations.  

Author Laura DeLuca with Jay
Jay Kopp - In my book, Jay Kopp is the class clown. The one making jokes at all the wrong times, and who thinks he is a whole lot cooler than he really is. The real Jay Kopp is not much different. Instead of the class clown, he is the office clown. Here is a man who is in his forties, but still makes faces behind the executive president's back while he's handing out awards. A man who every single solitary day, walks out the door at closing time and yells, "Stick a fork in me, I'm done."A man who has somehow wound up with the nickname of "Muffin" among his female coworkers.Some of his other shenanigans include tapping a picture of my husband (than new boyfriend) all over the office, including the toilet seat, and dressing up as Flavor Flav, and no, it wasn't Halloween. As you can tell, our little group had a tendency to stray away from corporate etiquette and we loved every minute of it.  All that being said, Jay is actually a really sweet guy, a hard worker, and a wonderful husband and father.  I think I stayed pretty close to Jay's real personality in my book. I just made him thirty years younger.

Mr. Russ - Mr Russ is the school janitor. He's a little on the dirty side and he’s definitely not all there. Again, he is based on a real person, but I can't say his name because I don't want to get sued. When I was working, there was an old man who worked in one of the buildings on the same street. I would run into him at Wawa all the time, and he decided he had a crush on me. Finally, he came in the office one day with a pack of tickets for the Lion King on Ice, and wanted to take me and my children. Ummmm...creepy!  Of course I told him as nicely as possible that I couldn't do that, and explained I was in a relationship for the hundredth time.  He got a little angry, I got a little freaked out, and thus I had to turn him into the creepy school janitor in my book. His name is different, but his physical description is right on. If you read this book, you'll understand why he made me nervous.

Carmen Webber - Carmen is one of Rebecca's best friends. When I created Carmen, I was really thinking about one of my best friends, Viv.  I gave her a lot of Viv's personality traits, but when it comes to her looks, I was thinking more about her daughter Sarah. Sarah is closer to Carmen's age.  So she sort of wound up being a combination of them both, but she definitely has a little more attitude than either of them.  On a side note, their last name is Zarfati, which is also the name of one of the characters in my Destiny series.

Debbie O'Neill  & Wendy Wright - Both of these girls got their first names from people I worked with.  Wendy is the class snob, and there was a girl at one of our offices in North Jersey that always had an attitude when she called. Plus she sounded like a valley girl. I was trying to decide on a name for Wendy and she happened to call that day in a particularly miserable mood, and so she became my b***h.  With Debbie, it was more a physical thing.  Someone was leading a meeting and she looked exactly the way I envisioned Debbie, so she took her name.

Darlene and Matt
Darlene & Matt - Darlene is a good friend and was my former High Priestess before she moved out of state. She opened her arms to me when I was new to the Craft and completely on my own, and I learned a lot from her. When she didn't get "a part" in Destiny, I promised to put her name in Phantom. She took it a step further and asked me to add in her best friend Matt as well. So I made them someone's parents. What's funny is, I never really intended to include any parents in the book, but adding Darlene became a big part of one of my favorite scenes. Meeting Darlene & Matt is a fun part of the book, so I can't say too much more. But if you met the real Darlene, you would definitely find that she and her namesake have the same remarkable ability to speak in complete paragraphs without taking a single breath.

Tom Rittenhouse - This is the guy who gets the role of Raoul, the hero. Tom is very much like my first real boyfriend, even though I don't think I realized it myself until I read back through the book when it was done. He was a surfer. He was the star of the high school musicals. He even had hopes of being an actor someday. He did get a few small parts in TV and Broadway in college, but as far as I know, he gave up on Hollywood and is back home now.  Darron from Destiny has some of his characteristics as well. I think since he was my high school sweet heart, and my first love, he comes back to haunt my high school characters...

Temptest

Tempest - Tempest is a Gothic Belly Dancer. I consider myself truly blessed to have not only met Tempest, but to have shared Sacred Space with her on a few occasions. About three years ago,  I was introduced to Tempest through my best friend and coven sister, Donna. She was taking her belly dance class at a local gym, and convinced me to come along.  The class was fun, but was nothing compared to watching Tempest perform live. When she begins to move, it’s like she is magically transformed into the Goddess herself. Her movements are fluid and graceful. Her costumes (which she often designs herself) are enchanting. She has created her own version of Gothic Belly Dance that is elegant and breathtaking. It literally brought tears to my eyes. Even as a writer, I find it hard to express just how amazing it is to watch her perform.  Tempest is one of the most beautiful women I have had the privilege to meet. It is a beauty that emanates from her soul and is transferred to the fluid movements of her body. All the wisdom of the ages is expressed in the poetic motions of her dance. She is a true artist.


"Lord Justyn"

JustynPatko (AKA-Lord Justyn) - When I tell people that Lord Justyn was based on a real person, most of them look at me like I'm crazy. They think he's my imaginary friend.  But, nope, he’s is real. Like my character, the real Lord Justyn is a Gothic Pagan who also happens to be a musician and an actor.  I have never spoken to Justyn outside of cyber space. We met on MySpace before I met my husband. I don't even remember how. But I do remember how all his notes would have a little old world charm in them. We would talk about books and movies, and, of course, magic and the Craft. He even read Destiny way before it was published. I would be lying if I said I didn't have a little crush on him. But in the real world, when we lived in different states and I was a single mom, there was no way it could have worked. Not to mention the fact that I am several years older, and not really the cougar type. Maybe in another time or another life it could have happened. But in this life, I could only make him into one of the most amazing characters I have ever created. It all started because I was writing him an email while Andrew Lloyd Weber's musical was playing the background. I started to think how great he would be in the role of the Phantom...one thought led to another, and Phantom was born.


Finally, Justyn’s last name came from my friend Jared Patko. He was handsome. He was fun. He was hilarious.  He was an amazing artist. He also suffered from severe Bipolar Disorder. In 2009, Jared took his own life. I had just started writing Phantom when this happened, and I wanted to immortalize him in some small way. I had promised him I'd use his name in a book eventually, and he had hoped to draw the cover art. Phantom is also dedicated to Jared as well as the real Lord Justyn.

Well, that pretty much sums it up. It’s amazing how even the smallest things that people do and say can touch our lives and bring about inspiration. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing for these folks will probably depend on who lives, who dies, and who the killer really is. But you'll have to read Phantom to find all that out. I have to wrap up this post with one of my favorite quotes. "Be careful, or I'll put you in my novel!"

Sneaky Peak from Phantom

The orchestra tuned for its virtuoso, and Justyn stood ready. But no one else was ready for the magical performance he began. Beside her, Carmen was rambling on about something mundane. Rebecca elbowed her to silence so she could listen to the perfectly thrilling tenor. As she listened to the song unfold, the world around her started to slip away. Gone was the high school auditorium. Gone were the rowdy teenagers. The Gothic stranger on the stage had become the embodiment of Erik, and Rebecca watched him in all his dark glory, belting out his tormented love through the words of his song. And she was as breathless with wonder as Christine herself must have been when the masked stranger serenaded her in the candlelit labyrinth of the opera house. In that moment, Justyn wasn’t just portraying the phantom. Justyn was the phantom.

                                                 “Let the music touch your soul.
                                                 Let the darkness make you whole.
                                                 Do not fear what is unknown.
                                                 Your true path has now been shown.
                                                 Listen to the words I sing.
                                                 Embrace the peace that night will bring.”

As he continued to sing in his deep but somehow angelic voice, Rebecca found that she couldn’t tear her eyes away from him. With every line, her heart began to beat faster.  She truly felt the arms of night wrapping her in a warm embrace. She could almost feel the hands of the phantom glide along her body as the words poured forth. The music caressed her. It possessed her—mind, body and soul. Each word left her longing, yearning for more.

She was gawking so obviously, it was hardly surprising when Justyn felt her eyes on him and steadily met her gaze. She realized her mouth was hanging open in stunned awe, and she quickly snapped it shut. His lips moved into just a small hint of a smile. He never took his eyes off her while he sang the final verse, making her cheeks flush to the point that she felt almost feverish. But it wasn’t embarrassment but excitement, arousal even, which was sending her mind spinning in so many directions.

When the song was over, and Rebecca had recovered just a hint of her composure, she couldn’t help but burst into a healthy round of applause. A few scattered people joined in, including Debbie and Carmen after she nudged them in the ribs. But only Miss King seemed to truly appreciate the brilliance of his talent as much as Rebecca did.

“That was amazing, Justyn!” the teacher gushed.

“Lord Justyn,” he corrected as he stepped down from the stage.

A few others complimented him as well, but he took in all in stride. In fact, his serious expression never faltered as he stepped down from the stage. He seemed almost bored, like it was all he could do to hold back a yawn, despite the smiles and words of encouragement.

But not everyone in the crowd was pleased as Justyn glided down the aisle, so ethereal in his dark garments that he still resonated the spirit of the Opera Ghost. Miss King might have been excited about the newest male addition to her cast after being limited for many years, but Tom and his group of boisterous companions glared at him as he passed them by.  Jay sneered and tossed a balled up piece of paper in Justyn’s direction, but the Goth was quick, and caught it in his hand without missing a beat.

“I think you dropped something,” he said.

His speaking voice was no less melodic than his singing voice, but something about his tone made Rebecca shiver. He tossed the paper back at Jay, who was nowhere near as coordinated as Justyn. He practically fell off his seat in his efforts to catch it.

"Hey vampire,” Tom called when Justyn went to walk away. “Are you sure you can handle the competition?”

Justyn smiled, a cool, sarcastic half-smile, and crossed his arms over his chest. “Are you?”

Miss King didn’t notice the short confrontation, and Justyn vanished from the auditorium as quickly and mysteriously as he had appeared. Only Rebecca had noticed the very real tension between the two boys. She wondered if it was a bad omen for them to start off the production with hard feelings and envy. That could only lead to trouble. The kind of trouble that could end with someone getting hurt.  The kind of trouble that Rebecca would do whatever it took to avoid.

About Author Laura DeLuca


Laura “Luna” DeLuca lives at the beautiful Jersey shore with her husband and four children. She loves writing in the young adult genre because it keeps her young at heart.  In addition to writing fiction, Laura is also the editor of a popular review blog called New Age Mama. She is an active member of her local pagan community, and has been studying Wicca for close to eight years.  Her current works include Destiny, Destiny Unveiled, Phantom, Morrigan, Player, and Demon.



Buy Phantom on Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble!

If you haven't read the first book in the series, now is a great time to get your copy. To celebrate the release of Demon,  Phantom is now on sale for only $1.99 exclusively on Amazon!


Blurb:

When Justyn and Rebecca set off for the New York School of Performing Arts, they think their dreams are about to come true. To their dismay, they aren’t in high school anymore, and the competition is steep. Rebecca must compete against accomplished singers for a role in the production of Demon Barber, including a stunning Gothic diva with her sights set on Justyn

It doesn't help that things keep disappearing from their apartment or that Rebecca's father refuses to accept that Justyn is an essential part of her life. Yet, all this seems minimal in comparison to the serial rapist terrorizing the campus.
Consumed by fear and obsessed with revenge, Rebecca and Justyn start living the story of Sweeney Todd—both on and off the stage.

Sneaky Peak into Demon


“What the hell are you looking at?” Livy demanded.

At first Rebecca just ignored her hostility. She walked back to her cubbyhole and opened it to stowaway her bags until practice was over. She was going to forget the whole stupid idea and just walk away. But Livy was still standing there, leaning against the lockers, looking just as sad as she did angry. Rebecca couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. She was reminded of how horribly everyone had treated Justyn during the production of Phantom and thought perhaps Livy was just as misunderstood.

“Livy,” she started, “can we talk for a minute?”

The Goth just gave her a dirty look. “I don’t know what we could possibly have to say to each other.”

“I just wanted to apologize about what happened at the party,” Rebecca spoke with as much sincerity as she could muster. “No matter how we feel about each other, I never meant to … to embarrass you the way I did.”

Rebecca had never seen the cliché of flashing eyes come to life like it did at that moment. “Don’t you dare!” Livy spat. “Don’t you dare pity me!”

“That’s not what I meant,” Rebecca tried to explain, though she knew she was fighting a losing battle. “I just regret—”

“Do you want to know what I regret?” Livy interrupted and actually shoved Rebecca against her locker. “I regret not ripping every strand of hair out of that pretty little head of yours when I had the chance. This isn’t high school, Becca! We aren’t going to be friends. And I’m not going to stop until Justyn is mine and you run back to New Jersey with your tail between your legs. Is that clear enough for you, deary? Don’t try to make nice with me again.”

Livy stomped away, and Rebecca just stood there, feeling shocked and a little stung. She couldn’t believe how vicious Livy could be. So much for olive branches. Instead of trying to hand her one, Rebecca should have shoved it straight up her….

“Wow.” Frankie came up beside her, shaking his head. “It’s girls like that who give PMS a bad rep. I seriously think the next play she should star in is the Taming of the Shrew.”

“There’s no taming that one,” Rebecca replied, still shaking her head.

Buy Demon on Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble!

***

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