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Immortal Symphony: Let me Clarify…

March 21, 2013

Cover art - Immortal Symphony: Overture: A Meeting of FateHey, everyone! It’s been a while, despite my belated post yesterday, and I wanted to do another ‘behind the scenes’ sort of post that is related to my “Goals for Immortal Symphony” post. Episode 2 of the serial I’ve written with my co-author, S.L. Armstrong, is out! The third part of the serial is in editing, and we’re probably a day away from completing the first draft of Episode 4, so I felt it was time for a bit of an update! As the marketing director at Storm Moon Press, I’m very watchful for how our serial as well as Cari Z’s Cambion: Dark Around the Edges serial is received. The great news is that the serial format seems to be accepted for what it is. It’s a different format and won’t be for everyone, but there haven’t been any complaints so far as to the format the story is being told in. However, through perusing the reviews on Goodreads in addition to the reviews that have been posted on review sites, there are a few things I’d like to clarify for readers based on the comments I’ve seen. 🙂

“You’re Copying Ben Barnes!”

I knew this would come up at some point, and I want to address it. For those who don’t follow much when it comes to Dorian Gray interpretations, there is a 2009 film version of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. In that film, the role of Dorian was given to Ben Barnes (best known for his role as Prince Caspian in two of the Chronicles of Narnia movies). Ben Barnes is gorgeous, and his particular look very much expresses the duality of Dorian’s nature, being young and innocent looking while also capable of being utterly debauched and devious. I’m so not arguing that point. The man is fucking gorgeous. To be told I’m copying isn’t really an insult.

Ben Barnes: not the only brunet to appear as Dorian Gray, just the most recent.

Ben Barnes: not the only brunet to appear as Dorian Gray, just the most recent.

However, I want to be clear here that Dorian Gray, as he is written by Oscar Wilde, was blond and blue-eyed. That’s the canon, so the Ben Barnes portrayal of Dorian Gray is essentially a departure from the source material they drew inspiration from. This is not unheard of. (There’s actually a great post about all the different interpretations of Dorian Gray.) It’s artistic license, and in the case of Ben Barnes, I still feel like the look of him captured the essence of the character, despite the incongruousness of his coloring. In Immortal Symphony, S.L. Armstrong and I depart from the canon in this respect as well, writing Dorian Gray as a brown-eyed brunet. We did this on purpose to enable our Dorian Gray to make the argument that Oscar Wilde took liberties with his story when he wrote it down. It’s subverting the canon, making Oscar Wilde the one who actually twisted the truth. We state that in the blurb: “You think you know the story of Dorian Gray, but you don’t.” Just like Louis in the film version of Interview With the Vampire denounces Bram Stoker’s Dracula as “the vulgar fictions of a demented Irishman”. So, while our Dorian Gray bears a certain resemblance to Ben Barnes, no, we didn’t create our Dorian Gray to mimic him. 🙂

“This is Dorian Gray seen through Gay Goggles.”

Firstly, ‘gay goggles’? XD Um, that’s honestly a bit offensive to me. That so is not what we’re trying to accomplish with this serial. In Oscar Wilde’s work, the sexual subtext between Dorian and various other male characters (Basil along with many unnamed boys left in Dorian’s debauched wake, Alan Campbell being one of them) made it quite clear that Dorian was, for all intents and purposes, bisexual. To boil this down to a statement that we’re making “Dorian Gray: The Gay Version”, I feel, is an underestimation not only of the work we’re writing, but also of Oscar Wilde’s work.

Dr. Horrible, played by Neil Patrick Harris. Gay goggles?

Dr. Horrible, played by Neil Patrick Harris. Gay goggles?

While we are certainly paying homage to Oscar Wilde’s work (obviously ^_-), we are trying to bring the character of Dorian Gray to a new time and into a more paranormal/supernatural world than was ever described in Oscar Wilde’s work. Dorian is still very much bisexual in our fiction, so we don’t want readers to get the impression that this is simply gay fiction. Nor is it general mainstream paranormal fiction. Dorian is pansexual, he’s omnisexual, he’s sapiosexual, he’s fucking Harkness-sexual. “Anything with a postcode.” As such, trying to simplify it as Dorian Gray through Gay Goggles is seriously missing the mark. Is there gay content in this serial fiction? Yes. Gabriel is gay, and he becomes involved with Dorian. Dorian, however, is not gay, and we make certain readers know it from the very first scene of the very first episode.

“Gabriel is just TSTL.”

This one threw me off a bit, I’ll admit. TSTL = Too Stupid To Live. Now, does Gabriel, the main character in the serial apart from Dorian, make mistakes in the story? Oh, hell yeah he does. He puts himself in danger occasionally on his ghost-and-spirit hunting assignments, to be sure. That’s an occupational hazard he accepts, though, and having Michael along to warn him when shit is getting really sticky definitely helps. It’s a fair argument that he takes risks that he probably shouldn’t, but if he didn’t go after Dorian at the end of the first episode and follow him to Scotland, well… that would be the end of the story. And it would be a lame end. XD

Gabriel is young, naïve, and impressionable, despite the hardships he’s been through. These are actually three characteristics that were originally perfectly suited to Dorian before he was influenced by Lord Henry and became the debauched character we all know (and love, c’mon, you know you love him too ^_-). There’s a bit of “The apprentice has become the master” in Dorian’s story. He was influenced, and he then went about (both in The Picture of Dorian Gray‘s canon and in our serial) and influenced a great many others to his form of the new hedonism. That’s part of the tragedy of Dorian Gray.

The other thing is that Gabriel has always been the responsible twin. When Michael died–and then when he stuck around as a spirit–Gabriel went through a really dark period and pretty much lost everything. His twin was gone, his family believed he was crazy, and everyone distanced themselves from him. He was able to pull himself together enough to finish college and all, but Michael dying really changed his life, and with Michael still around, it gives him a connection to that spirit plane. Gabriel being who he is, he wants to make good use of that unique connection and try to do some good, even though that kind of business is thankless and usually doesn’t pay well. He’s been responsible for much of his life, so when Dorian comes along and offers him a chance to reclaim the wild party days that he missed out on the instant Michael died, there’s a certain eagerness in him to finally let loose. It’s reckless, and it should be uncomfortable for readers, because it really is a 180 from Gabriel’s normal behavior. (In fact, this aspect of the serial is best explained by my co-author, who posted up a blog post yesterday about it. ^_^) So, does Gabriel have flaws and make mistakes? Sure, he does. He’s young and is still trying to find his stride in life while also looking for the occasional escape, and Dorian is exceptionally good at exploiting those weak spots and getting what he wants out of Gabriel.

Overture: Life of the Party CoverOf course, we’re perfectly aware that not everyone will enjoy this serial. There are plenty of reasons for that, many of them completely valid, and I’m not trying to say people can’t dislike the story or the characters. I just wanted to explain some of our choices as the authors and clarify the point that this serial isn’t just the gay take on Dorian Gray. We’re making our best effort to create something much more than that. 🙂 So, for those who are curious, Overture: Episode 2 – Life of the Party is now available. You can still sign up for the season pass, which will get you a few awesome extras not available any other way, or just get the episodes individually. I really hope a lot of people enjoy this serial. The characters do develop with a lot of depth, but it takes time on paper to give the reader a true look at them while keeping a plot moving forward. Stick with us! There is a lot more to come with Dorian, Gabriel, and Michael! 😀

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