Book Birthday and Author Interview: Sing Me Forgotten by Jessica S. Olson


Sing me Forgotten

by Jessica S. Olson

Isda does not exist. At least not beyond the opulent walls of the opera house. Cast into a well at birth for being one of the magical few who can manipulate memories when people sing, she was saved by Cyril, the opera house’s owner. Since that day, he has given her sanctuary from the murderous world outside. All he asks in return is that she use her power to keep ticket sales high—and that she stay out of sight. For if anyone discovers she survived, Isda and Cyril would pay with their lives. But Isda breaks Cyril’s cardinal rule when she meets Emeric Rodin, a charming boy who throws her quiet, solitary life out of balance. His voice is unlike any she’s ever heard, but the real shock comes when she finds in his memories hints of a way to finally break free of her gilded prison. Haunted by this possibility, Isda spends more and more time with Emeric, searching for answers in his music and his past. But the price of freedom is steeper than Isda could ever know. For even as she struggles with her growing feelings for Emeric, she learns that in order to take charge of her own destiny, she must become the monster the world tried to drown in the first place.



About the Author

Jessica S. Olson lives in Texas, where she spends her time singing praises to the inventor of the air conditioner. When she's not hiding from the heat, she's corralling her three children, dreaming up stories about kissing, murder, and magic, and eating peanut butter straight from the jar. ​ Website: www.jessicaolson.com Twitter: @JessicaOlson123 Instagram: @jessicaolson123

Interview by Jennifer Adam

Music is such a central element of this lovely story and I would love to know: What is your musical background? Why/how were you inspired to write this book? I was raised on a healthy diet of all kinds of music--from classical piano to Broadway show tunes to old-school country. I started piano lessons at age six and flute at age eleven. I did vocal training and choirs sporadically throughout my youth, and even dabbled some in the organ as a teen. I participated in musical theater productions both during high school and a few with a community theater as an adult! So once, when I was pondering on what I could write next, I thought of the old adage "write what you know," and wondered if I could do something with music! The inspiration for this book was obviously a deep love for the Phantom of the Opera Broadway show. Because of personal experiences growing up, I always identified with the Phantom much more than I ever did Christine, so when the thought occurred to me that I could write a Phantom retelling, I knew instantly that it would be the Phantom's POV that I'd want to explore the story from, and it sort of grew from there! Did you listen to music while you were writing? I actually didn't! I write in total silence. It's incredibly distracting for me if music is going on in the background when I write--even instrumental stuff makes me feel like I can't focus! What sort of research did you do? What was your favorite thing to discover? What was the oddest thing you looked up? Most of my research honestly was on the time period. What sorts of technology they had back then, what things had been discovered and invented, that sort of thing. Though Sing Me Forgotten is set in an alternate world, I did want it to feel very much like the setting of the original Phantom of the Opera--Paris in the late 1800s--so most of my research went into forming the world along that framework. My favorite part of the research was looking at clothing and fashion from the time period! They wore such fun styles! And as for the oddest thing I looked up... I spent several hours researching Victorian bathrooms for a scene that actually never made it past the second draft! Maybe you can squeeze Victorian bathrooms into another book! What was the hardest scene to write? The hardest scene for me is always the first one. There is so much to set up and so much riding on hooking in the reader and plunging them head-first into the world of the story. It is always so intimidating for me, and Sing Me Forgotten's opening chapter was no different. I can't count the number of times I rewrote the opening. What was your favorite scene to write? The kissing scene. ;) Followed closely by this one scene about a third of the way in where the main character and the love interest have a fight and she throws a candlestick at his head. I absolutely adore making people who have growing feelings for each other get into big arguments. It's so much fun. That was a great scene! Do you have a favorite line from the book? I have a few, but I think my all-time favorite line from Sing Me Forgotten will forever be "If they want me to be a nightmare, then a nightmare I shall be." Why did you choose to make the main character someone others would view as "monstrous?" I personally really identified with the Phantom character in Phantom of the Opera because I was born with an eye condition that has caused people to treat me differently--and sometimes very cruelly--throughout my life. I knew from the moment I first saw Phantom on stage that the Phantom's story had so much more potential than the stage play could explore. Because when I looked at him, I didn't see a monster. I saw someone who'd been hurt too many times. Someone who just wanted, so desperately, to be loved. To be seen. With Sing Me Forgotten, I really wanted to show how the way society treats people is much more monstrous than the "monsters" that treatment creates. The way our culture villainizes a certain type of people for looking or acting differently is cruel and unfair and deeply damaging to many more people than just the person it's focusing that abuse on. I wanted to show the story from the villain's point of view--show that she was just a normal girl who wanted desperately to be allowed to live her life just like anyone else, but who was beaten down so many times that she finally had to fight back. What do you hope readers will take away from this story? I hope that readers who, like me, grew up feeling ostracized and different, who were bullied and treated as less-than because of something they had no control over, will be able to see just how powerful they are. And I hope that all readers, regardless of their experiences, will come away recognizing just how much of an effect their actions can have upon another human being, and that it will encourage people to be a little kinder and to love a little bit more freely. I love that message! What is the hardest aspect of writing for you? The first draft is by far the most difficult step for me. It's when the book is the furthest away from that vision in my head of what it could be. It also can feel so tedious piling words into a document that I know will get deleted or rearranged later on. But that first draft is so necessary! You can't build from nothing! So I generally try to get that first draft down as quickly as I can so that I can get on to the part of the process I enjoy much more: revisions! Do you have a writing routine? If so, can you share a brief description? If not, how do you maintain consistency? I have three (soon to be four!) small children, so I have to take my writing time when I can get it! I do most of my work late at night once the kids are tucked in bed. My husband also makes an effort to take the children on the weekends when he is home from work so that I can use those days as writing days. The thing that helped me most of all as a writer was deciding to treat it like a job and showing up every day the way I would for a career. Congratulations on the upcoming baby! What a great way to celebrate and remember your debut year - with a new family member making a debut, too! If you could be a character in a book, which book would you want to live in? Ooooh this is a tough one! I really loved VE Schwab's A Darker Shade of Magic series, so I think I'd have to say I'd love to visit Red London! And hopefully I could be an Antari, because their magic is so cool! If your book had a soundtrack, who would you want to compose and perform it? I mean, in my dream world, Andrew Lloyd Webber would make a Broadway musical of it! Haha and as for which Broadway stars would perform my characters and sing their songs--maybe Sierra Boggess (who played Christine in the 25th Anniversary performance of Phantom) for Isda? I have no idea on Emeric. Maybe Matt Leisy? (He currently plays Raoul in the World Tour) And our final question is a fun one; if your book was a snack, what type would it be?

Caramels, definitely. If you've read the book, you know why!


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