On 12th January we hosted a #RoseBloodBall with A.G Howard (in digital form) and an audience of magnificent bloggers. The highlight of the evening was (google) hanging out with A.G Howard. We were able to ask all the questions we’ve been dying to pose; questions about RoseBlood, her writing style and even which character she would take to prom!
The questions were so good we couldn’t keep the answers to ourselves, so here, friends, are all the questions and answers from our gothic evening of frivolity. Plus some of our favourite snaps!
Q: As I am a huge musical fan I’d love to know if there are any other theatre shows (whether based on a book or not), she would like to adapt or take as inspiration for a future book/series?
A: I’ve considered all of these: Les Miserables, Moulin Rouge and Sweeney Todd
Did you get any Phantom of the Opera songs stuck in your head while you were writing RoseBlood?
No. But I do use music to get in the mind-set of a book. I create Spotify playlists for my books, even ones I’ve not started writing yet. You can listen to them here.
Q: What inspired you to write a Phantom of the Opera retelling?
A: I’ve always been intrigued by the anti-hero, and contemplated a Phantom retelling even before I wrote Splintered. I’d seen other adaptations of The Phantom of the Opera — a lot of them actually — and one prequel that I adored (Phantom by Susan Kay) but not many spinoffs or continuations. Like Splintered, I knew I wanted to make it modern and contemporary to set it apart, while still retaining the elements of the original (gothic in this case). All I needed was a way to explain the Phantom’s longevity…how he had survived so many years. Once I figured that out, I was ready to give Erik a modern stage on which to perform to see what horrors he might stir up.
Q: You’ve created a marvellous adaptation of Alice in Wonderland and now Phantom of the Opera, what’s next on the agenda?
A: A gothic retelling / adaptation of a fairy tale which will take me back to my fantasy roots, with strange creatures and magic in an alternate fairy tale universe. But that’s all I can say about it for now.
Q: What is your favourite opera?
A: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera.
Q: What is your favourite song from Phantom of the Opera?
A: My favourite song is The Music of the Night
Q: Have you watched the Phantom of the Opera in theatre?
A: In Las Vegas.
Q: Do you like to sing, and do you have any particular favourite songs you sing in the shower/kitchen/etc.?
A: I have a terrible voice! Haha. But I do like to make playlists for all my books and sometimes those songs make it into my shower performances.
Q: How do you create your characters? Do you fully plan them out at the start or let them emerge as you’re writing?
A: They’re fully planned out. For each book I write, that’s the most important preparation. It’s crucial that I intimately know the stars of the story before starting the journey, because I write organically and they’re going to be my guides.
Q: What do you love about Rune and Thorn?
A: The fact that they are both very loyal.
Q: What annoys you about them?
A: That it takes them so long to kiss the first time.
Q: What was your favourite scene to write between them and why?
A: The rooftop scene. It’s romantic, and also because it’s when they first see one another face to face and start working together to figure things out. I knew I would have this scene in the book before I started writing because this was always my favourite scene in the movie.
Q: Are there any other fairytales you’d be interested in reimagining?
A: Yes, many. Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel (although it would be hard to top Disney’s Tangled), just to name a few. I’m also interested in more Classical retellings, like Jekyll and Hyde, A Midsummer’s Night Dream and more.
Q: Did you go to boarding school?
A: No, but I did go to a Christian private school where we had to wear uniforms like Rune in RoseBlood. My parents worked at the school and at weekends we had to pitch-in to help clean! My brother convinced me that there was a monster living under the stage in the cafeteria – something that has definitely impacted my writing!
Q: Will you ever come to tour the UK?
A: I would love to! If I can ever save up enough money. I have two kids in college, so it might be a while! Haha.
Q: What was it like writing a reimagining of Alice in Wonderland then jumping into a reimagining of Phantom of the Opera? These are two very different stories with very different vibes to them (Alice is very surreal while Phantom is quite gothic).
A: As you pointed out, I had to adjust my mood for this book. Where my Wonderland series is based on what has often been considered a children’s story, RoseBlood is based on The Phantom of the Opera — a romantic horror/ drama about the obsession to be accepted and loved, and unrequited passion turned to madness. RoseBlood is also very character-driven, as opposed to plot-driven, which makes it a slower, more mysterious unwinding of twists and turns than the Splintered books. There aren’t any *whimsical* underpinnings in this one. Instead, it’s darkly romantic and gothic with subtle elements of horror, and the relationships involve more tortured/complex depths.
Q: Why do you think reimagines of fairy tales and well-known/loved stories are so popular now?
A: I think, for one, because dark fairy tales provide a perfect archetype for coming-of-age elements. First, there’s a young heroine (in some cases, hero, but for my answer, we’ll stick with the female lead character) – either troubled, or spoiled like a princess – who needs a quest so she can find her place in the world, become strong enough to face her troubles, and leave the diva days behind. Then there’s the hero (prince), or in some cases, anti-heroes, who will accompany/guide/confuse our heroine on her journey to self-realisation. Fairy tales often teach life lessons in subtle ways, and when drenched in darkness, the lessons become even less obvious, but leave more of a visceral imprint. And let’s not discount the adventure aspect. Fairy tales take place either in a far off land or an alternate earth – and offer an eccentric bevy of secondary characters who help or hinder along the way – which provides the temporary escapism we all need from the very real monsters of everyday life. Our generation is hyper-aware of violence and tragedy due to disturbing images of terrorism, war scenes, and random shootings, etc… touted by the media day in and day out. So it stands to reason that we’d be drawn to The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales and Hans Christian Anderson versions, which both cater to the idea that “real life isn’t always pretty, so why should fairy tales be?”
Our favourite questions from Twitter:
Q: With which of your characters would you have gone to prom when you where young?
A: Morpheus, because how fun would it be to dance with someone who could fly you to the stars? (Who doesn’t love a bad boy!)
Q: What type of mask would you wear for the #RoseBloodBall? And what colour?
A: One like this, but in purple and red.
Q: There are some beautifully dark scenes in RoseBlood. Is it hard to get in the mindset to write those?
A: It wasn’t hard for me because I use my playlists to help me and I already have a dark imagination!
Thank you @zarinatweets, @dani_reviews, @powisamy, @book_throne, @PewterWolf13, @TinaMories, @HellYes82, @bethanycrandell and @agustinazanelli for your brilliant questions!