Fondest greetings. My name is Christine Reynolds (christinernlds), and I am a recovering Phantom addict. Don't take this to mean that I no longer love the Phantom--personally, I can't understand how any Christine who's been under his spell could fall out of love with him! "Recovering" just means that there's room for other things in my life now.
My love affair with the Phantom began at Christmas in 1987. I was searching through the records (yes, they still had vinyl back then) at Camelot Music for a particular soundtrack when I spotted the double-record original cast recording. I was intrigued by the cover, the concept of a musical Phantom, and the composer (I was already a fan of Sir Andrew's music). I decided it was worth a risk, so I took it home (after paying for it, of course). As soon as the Christmas chaos had settled, I put the first record on the stereo, popped the headphones over my ears, and hit the switch. My life hasn't been the same since.
When Michael Crawford described his reaction to hearing the first bars of the Phantom's overture, I understood perfectly, because I had the same reaction myself. I was hooked. The Phantom came to live with me; at home, in my car, at work--his music was always with me. I bought everything I could find with a mask or rose or mention of the musical. I made contact with other fans. I talked my husband into a trip to New York to see the musical, and it was one of the most special weeks of our lives. And I began to write...
I've written various sorts of fiction all my life, from long-ago stories about wild horses up to fan fiction before I knew there was such a thing as fan fiction. After spending some time with Erik and Christine, I knew there was more to their story--that it didn't end the way Sir Andrew said. But I resisted telling their story. I mean, I was An Adult (or at least as close as I was ever likely to get)--I'd just turned 40 (and I had a husband, an 8-year-old son, and a responsible job). I was too old to be playing around with fan fiction! (The "Beauty and the Beast" story had been an accident.)
That attitude lasted about a month, as the plot grew and jelled, and then I wrote the first draft of "Renascence". The finished original version appeared in issue #1 of Cheryl Duval's Beauty and the Beast/Phantom of the Opera/Mozart fanzine, Faded Roses. (My BatB story appeared in issue #2.) I got some lovely feedback from it...and was encouraged to answer the question of "What happened next?"
What happened next was friend and Phantom Notes editor Jenn Bills deciding to put out a totally Phantom fanzine. She asked me to rewrite "Renascence" and the sequel, Denouemont". I'm not sure where the idea of a prequel came from, but I found myself working on that one too. (Appropriately enough, the ending for that story came to me at an informal Phantom fans gathering in New York; we were posing for group photos and suddenly I knew what I wanted to do with the ending...almost as if Erik whispered it into my ear!) Jenn truly earned the name "Slave Driver" as she worked with me ("You sit on the floor, not in the floor!") ("Lose some of those elipses!") and ran up enormous phone bills in her efforts to help me make these stories better. If any reader enjoys these at all, send kind thoughts her way as well as mine!
The Phantom Trilogy (a.k.a. "the Three Stooges" in less reverent moments) was published in the Phantom Notes fanzine Hard as Lightning, Soft As Candlelight, which has been called the best Phantom 'zine ever. HAL/SAC is long out of print, so I've decided to share these stories with any phans who are interested.
The first story of the trilogy, Prelude, is my version of Erik's life prior to the events chronicled by ALW and company. Because it's the longest of the three, I've broken it into two sections. The second story, Renascence, tells what happens after the musical, when Christine comes to her senses. The fact that the third story, Denouemont was called "Happily Ever After" until about a month before publication should tell you something about the contents of that one.
WARNING #1! Since these stories were based on the Michael Crawford interpretation of the Phantom, some readers may find them too "sappy"--and the Phantom too "weak"--for their tastes, so be warned that I worked toward a happy ending for everyone.
WARNING #2! These stories should be rated...um...since I really don't have a clue what the newest rating system is, I'll go for PG-13 for violence and mild sexual situations.
If you have comments, questions, or suggestions, email me at: email@example.com.
Upcoming: Other pieces of my non-Phantom fan fiction...plus another Phantom offering or two...