Sharon E. Cathcart's Blog

May 9, 2015

You Had to Be There   Three Years of Mayhem and Bad Decisions in the Portland Music Scene by Sharon E. Cathcart

Through all of this, I was going to shows at least once a week at The Metropolis. The only way to learn the “scene” was to go out there and check out the bands. In doing so, I found that I wasn’t as “punk” as my high school classmates thought. In fact, I disliked hardcore punk and most of its sub-genres as much as I did heavy metal.

To me, music must have three elements: rhythm, melody and harmony. I played piano, violin and guitar, and also sang (choir and theatre). I had a grounding in classical music as a result, and a correspondingly particular ear. As I’ve said before, my taste is eclectic; I’ll give just about anything a listen in order to formulate an opinion. Hardcore, thrash, et al., were not my cup of tea.

I loved David Bowie, Roxy Music, Human League; in other words, the “art school” performers. It was one of the things that made me such a fan of Theatre of Sheep. I liked the more cerebral sound.
At the same time, I liked a good dance band like Billy Rancher’s, the mod and rockabilly resurgence coming out of Europe, some pure pop mainstream acts like The Police; it was hard to put my taste into one simple box.

One of the bands I heard at the Met was a trio called The Van Goghs. They had an edgy, mod sound and I liked them a lot. I approached their manager about doing an interview that I would pitch as a freelancer to Two Louies, the local music paper. He and the band were amenable, so I wrote it up and gave it to them for a fact check.

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Published on May 09, 2015 06:41 • 29 views

May 8, 2015

Twelve Hours Later  24 Tales of Myth and Mystery by BJ Sikes Seen Through the Phantom's Eyes  The Omnibus Edition by Sharon E. Cathcart

How is it possible that more than a month has passed since my last blog post? Tempis fugit, indeed!

Well, here is what's happening: I am celebrating two book releases this month. Seen Through the Phantom's Eyes: The Omnibus Edition consists of my two novels, In The Eye of The Beholder: A Novel of The Phantom of the Opera and In The Eye of The Storm: A Novel of the Phantom of the Opera, as well as the award-winning short fiction collection, Through the Opera Glass. I have expanded glossaries and added historical photographs to make this a truly special edition.

Twelve Hours Later: 24 Tales of Myth and Mystery is a special anthology, created by my local writing group. Twenty-four stories by fifteen authors, representing a single day. I have two stories in this volume, Nous sommes deux heures and Nous sommes quartorze heures (2 AM and 2 PM, respectively). Look for some new adventure in the Opera Garnier here, along with some outstanding new works by some of the finest authors you'll ever want to read.
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Published on May 08, 2015 13:56 • 65 views

March 7, 2015

Sample Saturday: 12 Hours Later. This is a snippet from my story that will appear later this year in a special anthology, benefiting the San Jose Public Library System. Enjoy!

A bell chimed in the distance; the signal had not rung its alert in a long time. Erik LeMaître kissed Claire one more time – would he ever feel sated where her lips were concerned? – and got out of bed.

“What is it,” Claire murmured as she sat up, pulling the coverlet over herself. She wore nothing but the sapphire necklace.

“There’s something outside, and I don’t think it’s that sturgeon,” her lover replied as he drew on his trousers and slipped a mask over his face.

Claire reached for Erik’s discarded shirt and pulled it over her head. She got out of bed and followed him out of his underground home and into the cavernous cellar.

“God in heaven!’ she exclaimed as Erik turned an unconscious body over on the walkway. “It’s Lucien Dubois, the steward from the Grand Foyer!”
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Published on March 07, 2015 07:50 • 50 views

February 27, 2015

In The Eye of The Beholder   A Novel of The Phantom of the Opera by Sharon E. Cathcart In The Eye of The Storm  A Novel of the Phantom of the Opera by Sharon E. Cathcart

When I was researching these two novels, I learned a lot about how women's mental health issues were treated during the 19th century. My article on the matter was just published in the March 2015 issue of InDTale Magazine, starting on page 47. Enjoy!
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Published on February 27, 2015 15:20 • 59 views

February 14, 2015

Through the Opera Glass by Sharon E. Cathcart

In honor of Lunar New Year this coming Thursday, 19 Feb 15, I present this tale for your enjoyment.

A Letter from the Mine Country
Written May 14, 2012
Clever Fiction writing prompt: Bandana/Carousing/Copper

February 4, 1917
Copperopolis, California

Dearest Ming:

Gong xi fa cai, little sister! May this year of the Red Fire Snake bring you much luck. As you may well imagine, there was little enough carousing here; we are constantly busy.

Let me tell you a bit about what my life is like here at the copper mine. I am one of the fortunate ones, for it is my job to look for the ore. They don’t trust a “Chinaman” to handle the chemicals that draw the metal from the stone … and I am glad of it. I bring the stones out of the ground, as do many others, and then the stone is crushed, and treated with sulfur until the metal comes out. Then, the copper can be smelted. I have a colorful bandana that I pull up over my nose and mouth when I have to go by the sulfur pit; you would laugh to see me. I look like some kind of bandit.

Once the copper is smelted, it’s made into bullets so that our soldiers can kill people they’ve never seen. If you sense, dear sister, that I am bitter, you are correct. I will never understand man’s propensity for violence to man.

The land is beautiful here in California’s foothills, but the work is hard. I am too tired to go into Angel’s Camp, let alone as far as Stockton, to buy the things I need. We are fortunate that the Copper Consolidated Mining Company has its own store, although goods are dear; we are able to have credit there until pay day, at which time I like to joke that we give the company its money back.

I need to stop writing for now; lamp oil is very dear indeed and there is no electricity in my cabin here.
When you write back, will you tell me how Veronique is doing? I have not heard from her in some time.

Your brother,
Samuel (Song) Lee


Ming returned the letter to its envelope and pinched the bridge of her nose. Her brother was still in love with Veronique after all of this time. How could it be? She was the reason that he lived so far away; it had been the only way to keep both of them safe.

She opened her lap desk and took out a piece of stationery and a pen. She had to tell him the truth.

Dearest Brother Samuel:

Gong xi fa cai to you as well. I smiled to myself when I thought of my educated brother looking like a bandit.

As for Veronique, I have some news that may upset you …
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Published on February 14, 2015 07:59 • 43 views

February 7, 2015

Through the Opera Glass by Sharon E. Cathcart

Midnight on the Place des Vosges
Written July 17, 2012
Clever Fiction writing prompt: Late/Anxiety/Continue.

It was always late when Erik arrived at the Place des Vosges townhouse. He traveled under cover of darkness from the Opera Garnier, in the 9eme arrondissement, to the square that straddled the 3eme and 4eme. Hansom cabs were always available outside the opera house and Zareh, who served as Claire’s concierge in the evenings, would take him back in the morning.

Claire did not know how long she could continue their nocturnal existence. She’d been in a state of nearly constant anxiety since Erik whisked her away to this townhouse; what if her cousin Francois found her? Worse, what if the gendarmerie found both of them? Erik’s reputation preceded him, even among those inclined to scoff at the idea of the Opera Ghost.

Claire stared at the ceiling in the darkened room; Erik slept next to her, his breathing even and relaxed. One long, elegant hand caressed her cheek, the musician’s dexterous fingers curved gently along the contour of her jaw. The damaged, twisted side of Erik’s face was pressed into the pillow; to look at him in repose this way, one would see only a handsome, virile man. A dangerous man, Claire reminded herself. A man who had killed for her without a single thought.

And yet, there was something else in him: an undercurrent of pain and anguish that Claire understood far too well. She’d known it when she lost first Papa and then Philippe; if he had lived, she thought, I would be married to him by now.

Instead, she was the mistress – there was no denying her position – of a notorious man whom many believed was no more than the stuff of legend and superstition.

And, heaven help her, she was in love with him.

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Published on February 07, 2015 06:29 • 47 views

January 24, 2015

In The Eye of The Beholder   A Novel of The Phantom of the Opera by Sharon E. Cathcart

I looked down at my gloved hands, twisting in my lap. “I kissed him before they took him away, Erik. That was the last touch of a man’s lips that I felt, still warm because he hadn’t been gone for long. After that, my cousin Francois sold the house in Baincthun. He sold my jewels and my books. He sold everything but Josephine and my clothes. He made me come with him and his riding troupe, because my father had appointed him as my guardian unless and until I married. He still controls the income from the allowance my father left me; I see none of it.”

I looked up at him. “That is all.”

“Claire, I have known only one woman’s kiss, and that one was quite ... reluctant. If what I ask of you now is refused, I will understand. Please, Claire. I want you to feel a man’s kiss again.”

With that, he lowered his mouth to mine. His lips were warm and gentle, but I could not imagine why I was surprised. Had I expected such beautiful lips to feel hard and cruel? I could not say. I slipped one gloved hand behind his neck, caressing the occiput of his skull, and returned the kiss with an ardor that surprised me. At last I broke away.

“How long, Claire? How long has it been since he died?” His voice was raspy with desire.

“A little over a year,” I replied.

“Then perhaps,” Erik whispered, his breath warm against my ear, “It is time to shed your veil of mourning and kiss me again.”

As I turned my face up toward him, his gloved hand caressing my jaw, the carriage rumbled to a halt and the driver called out. “Mademoiselle, we’ve arrived at the modiste’s.”

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Published on January 24, 2015 07:53 • 52 views

January 10, 2015

His Beloved Infidel by Sharon E. Cathcart

Farukh pulled the papers out of his mail slot and went to his classroom. On top of the array of mimeographs was a small envelope addressed to him in an unfamiliar, but decidedly feminine, hand.

He slit the envelope carefully with a letter opener and read Catherine’s note of appreciation. Without stopping to think, he walked out of his classroom and down the hall to hers.
Catherine looked up as he entered.

“Monsieur Aria,” she smiled. “Thank you again for your generosity.” She stood up and stepped away from her desk. She wore a blue knit dress that emphasized the color of her eyes, and a pair of fashionable black leather boots.

“I ...” he paused and took a deep breath. “There is a city in my country called Isfahan. This perfume is named after it.”

He wanted to slap himself. Had anyone ever sounded so foolish?

She stepped a little closer. “I know. I looked it up.”

Catherine had never realized how intense Farukh’s brown eyes were until that moment; they were so dark that she could barely tell where the iris left off and the pupil began.

“I didn’t get gifts for anyone outside my department,” she continued sheepishly.

“I didn’t give the gift with any expectations,” he replied. He could smell the sultry perfume; it was intoxicating.

“Well, perhaps I could take you out for supper on Saturday?” Her impulsive thought came out of her mouth almost as soon as it occurred to her.

Catherine’s boldness surprised Farukh. “I would be honored,” he said.

He stepped out into the hallway and hurried back to his classroom before he could say anything foolish. Unbeknownst to him, Catherine watched him for a while ... which was how she saw him do several Persian dance steps. This was a side of her quiet colleague that she would never have predicted; he moved with the grace of a tiger.

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Published on January 10, 2015 07:26 • 44 views

January 6, 2015

In The Eye of The Storm  A Novel of the Phantom of the Opera by Sharon E. Cathcart

Hello, everyone. Another of my books has been nominated for an award. In The Eye of The Storm has been nominated in the Best Fan Fiction category of the Global eBook Awards.

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Published on January 06, 2015 06:09 • 46 views

January 3, 2015

You Had to Be There   Three Years of Mayhem and Bad Decisions in the Portland Music Scene by Sharon E. Cathcart

My first exposure to the Portland music scene came when I did something completely out of character for me. It was December 1980, and I skipped school to go downtown for a John Lennon memorial in the aftermath of his murder. A local band called The Malchicks was playing and, honest to God, I thought the lead singer was the most beautiful man I had ever seen. His name was Billy Rancher, and I am sure that my parents grew mightily sick of hearing about him. Of course, I was in huge trouble for ditching school, but I didn’t care. I was a senior with very good grades, knew I would graduate -- and had just gotten a tiny taste of the world I hoped to inhabit.

At about the same time, along came something new: MTV. (Yep, I’m old enough to remember when MTV played music videos and nothing else). Suddenly, I was hearing a whole different sound. Consider that the most popular bands among my classmates were Van Halen and Blue Oyster Cult. Now, suddenly I was listening to The Yachts, Brahm Tchaikovsky, Human League. It was like a whole new world opened up to me.

As I said, I went to a semi-rural high school. We lived across the street from a dairy farm. I don’t remember more than a handful of people of color among my classmates -- including the exchange students from places like Japan and Iran. Being “different” was strongly discouraged, to say the least.

But there was this tiny enclave of people, primarily in speech/debate and/or theatre, and we embraced this new music. Devo and The B-52s were requested at school dances and we would pogo merrily away. We were the “punk” crowd, according to the Van Halen fans.

It was with tremendous delight that I graduated and began looking for work. I’d done the part-time food service gig, like every other high schooler, but now I needed something that would buy my freedom. My folks had bought a house, so there was no question of attending college; they couldn’t afford to send me, and they made too much for me to get financial aid. (I would eventually attend part-time on my own, majoring first in journalism and later in forensic anthropology.)

In the mean while, I listened to music, read music and fashion magazines, dreamed of visiting London, and wrote more lousy fan fiction. Laurence Juber, my favorite guitarist, was a big star in those stories. He’s brilliantly talented, and one heck of a nice man. I’ve had the occasion to meet him in person, and see him perform live a few times.

LJ, please consider this my apology for those stories.

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Published on January 03, 2015 06:45 • 55 views