This week we ask the author - what is the importance of research in novel writing?
Research is a crucial component of the writing process. Given Chandelier is a follow-up novel of my 2019 book, Phantoms, I had already done much of the research.
There are two levels of research, secondary and primary. For example, in my previous career in international business, I'd research as much as I could about the country and its markets before travelling there to carry out field interviews with business operators. I use much the same process for fictional writing.
Secondary Research: To write Phantoms, I researched and read the many adaptions of the famous tale, as well as the original novel, The Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux. There were film and theatre versions to review, which were far more dramatic than the original book, but Leroux's work remains uniquely creative.
I also use Verdi's opera as the backdrop of my novels, so I had to research Verdi's work before deciding on the appropriate operas. I used Macbeth in Phantoms and decided on La Traviata in Chandelier, as the story revolves around the sacrifice of the female lead, Violetta.
Primary Research: This was the fun bit! Long before writing Phantoms, I lived in France for three months, spending equal time in Bordeaux, Lyon and Paris. As a francophile, I enjoyed living among the French and experiencing their unique culture. I was invited to an opera at the Garnier in Paris and never forgot the experience. It is a stunning opera house filled with history, stunning architecture and, of course, the stories of the famed opera ghost, making for an unforgettable experience. It left an indelible mark on me, so much so, I co-wrote Phantoms as a tribute to the occasion. I took a picture of that visit containing the Phantom's signature. I believe he appeared with me in a photo taken at the Garnier, but I'll let you decide! Can you see the shape of the Phantom's face on my shirt?
If you'd like to read more about my novel, Phantoms, check it out below.
Phantoms is a 64,000 word adult fiction that tells the story of Erik Destler, a latter day Phantom of the Opera. Erik sets out to take over and rule the Palais Garnier, with La Divina - the diva Carlotta Caccini, as his queen, but at each turn, is seemingly thwarted by his nemesis - the original Phantom of the Opera, now the Opera Ghost. Phantoms is set in that same famous Paris opera house, amidst the staging of Verdi’s Macbeth, one hundred years on from the first appearance of Le Fantôme de l'Opéra in 1910.