Yesterday, I posted my review of The Jumbee by Pamela Keyes, an exciting and vibrant retelling of The Phantom of the Opera.
Today, on the book’s release day, I have the great pleasure of interviewing the author, Pamela Keyes.
Photo from Author’s Website
What led you to write The Jumbee?
“A few years ago, I saw the Phantom of the Opera and immediately fell in love with the plot and all the main characters. Shortly after that, I was lucky enough to move to the Caribbean. The moment I heard my first legend of a jumbee (a West Indian phantom who wants to steal your soul), I knew what I had to do. What better combination than a jumbee teamed with the most famous phantom in the world?“
What is it about The Phantom of the Opera that appealed to you?
“I think everyone is intrigued by larger-than-life bad guys who are complex and sympathetic — especially if they’re likeable or even charming. I mean, look at Edward in the Twilight Saga – the ultimate bad-guy-turned-good-guy. So many villains are two-dimensional and stereotyped, and The Phantom is the opposite of that. I think that’s why The Phantom of the Opera has appealed to so many people over the years. There’s no denying that he does bad things, but you have to sympathize with him. You come to understand that most of what he does is almost necessary to his survival. That concept has always stuck with me.”
The story is set in such a unique place. Why did you choose the West Indies for the setting?
“Ha ha — what makes you think I chose the setting? The setting chose me! The moment I moved to the Virgin Islands, the setting completely took over. Especially with all the jumbee legends there — I was merely the channel for the story that had to come out. LOL.”
What do you want readers to take away from this story?
“Compassion. In one of my reviews, the reviewer concludes by saying The Jumbee left her feeling ‘the importance of knowing right from wrong, feeling compassion and working together toward a common goal.’ Wow — that’s precisely what I want readers to take away.”
How would you describe your book in five words or less?
“That’s definitely the most difficult question I’ve been asked. As inadequate as it is, I’d have to say a ‘Caribbean Phantom of the Opera.'”
Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
“Despite my answer to the previous question, The Jumbee isn’t a simple re-telling of The Phantom. Again, quoting from a review: ‘It is a story which covers the coming of age of a young girl who is searching for her own identity; it features the problems teens face from other jealous teens, the stirring of romantic interests, the difficulties of growing up…. it enlightens the reader about the injustice of slavery, island superstitions and crosses racial lines.’ I’ve drawn heavily on Caribbean history and West Indian legends, as well as the history and theater of Shakespeare to create a story — most of all — about friendship and honor.”
The Jumbee is on-sale today! So be sure to go pick it up, or purchase it from Amazon.