I had a really good NaNoWriMo, writing 35,000 words of my next project, a World War II companion novel to my Phantom series. But 35,000 words is definitely not a full novel, so I’ve continued writing my draft through December. My goal is to write an additional 20,000 words this month, and so far I’m on track! I’ve written just over 10,000 words, putting me at about 45,000 total.
The storyline is moving along well too. We’re up to June 11, 1940. The French government announced they were leaving Paris on June 10, precipitating an intense exodus of people trying to flee the city. So, as I sometimes think of it, this is the day when Rick left Paris, broken-hearted because Ilsa didn’t meet him at the train station – for you Casablanca fans out there! According to the research I’ve done, Casablanca probably underestimated the chaos at the train stations. 120,000 people left Paris in a single day!
My heroine tries to get to a train, but can’t get through the crowds and ultimately decides to stay in Paris. Which then brings us, of course, to the Nazi occupation.
For now, though, here’s an excerpt I wrote a few days ago. It was for a Christmas scene – Paul gives Maggie a copy of The Phantom of the Opera, and she decides to tell him a secret…
I took a deep breath. “My grandfather was the Phantom of the Opera.”
There was a pause. He was still looking at me expectantly, as though he thought there was going to be more. Then he seemed to realize that was the secret, and he blinked, brow furrowing again. “Wait – you’re related to Lon Chaney? You have one grandfather who was a famous composer and the other one—”
“No,” I said, shaking my head and smiling slightly. “Not the actor who played the Phantom. My grandfather the composer was the Phantom. The real one.”
“But it’s a fictional story,” he said slowly. “A novel.”
“Sort of. I mean, a lot is fictionalized, but it’s based on real events. I told you my grandfather’s name was Erik Rouen.” I tapped the book. “The Phantom’s name was Erik, he was involved in building the Opera Garnier, and he composed music.”