The Disciples of the Night

The Distant Heart

a novel by Etienne de Mendes

Etienne Answers Your Questions

I really like your style. Where are you getting such great ideas?

Thank you for the compliment. The overall plot of a novel simply occurs to me, often in a rather startling and exhilarating fashion. I’ve been a fan of Erik’s since I was eleven and though he faces obstacles aplenty in my stories, he overcomes them. Working through a specific scene is achieved by blocking out the world and mentally putting myself into 360 degrees of the action. As to the writing style, that’s just me hacking away at the computer.

Why the roaming clock on the website’s homepage?

The clock is a tribute to Erik the Magician - compliments of the Webmaster, Scott.

Oh, Etienne, I become richer in knowledge reading each one of your books. Now I anticipate the next one. Do you have plans for these disciples to use their powers in the next book?

You betcha’!

I love Torossian and he is my hero in 'The Disciples'. Can you please describe Torossian's physical being? I keep imagining different body forms while reading. I want him to be like Erik, deformed and bruised but handsome and sexy.

Torossian looks like a young man - originally rather angular facial features and more or less minus body hair until it starts to develop. There are two concepts of him in the Art Galley on the website. Stressed or angry he can move in a rather crab-like fashion. Anna thinks him very appealing - and Christine was close to having a physical intimacy with him in 'The Bloodline'. So yes, he projects an odd but alluring aura. Plus he's more intelligent than people assume. He likes listening. Personally, I really appreciate that he levitates. "Mind over matter."

I'm confused that Isidore does not want to put an end to early death. I can't imagine you would be any prouder reaching this fouth book and putting 100% of yourself, mind and body into this. How do you inhale all this knowledge for this book? How do you even begin? Where do you get your information? It's like you lived it all…sometimes I feel you have!!

Hopefully your reading has now disclosed that Isidore was from the very start developing a formula to not only control the aging world population, but send humankind on an evolutionary leap forward. Something similar to the Cambrian period when life exploded on this planet. In the next two books we'll see where some of this DNA bloom sends us. Erik will be particularly taxed. He'll have to adapt.

My personal pride in writing is about all I have to boost morale. That and the few people that enjoy my work and take the time to tell me so. I am still very much an unknown author. I do feel a sense of satisfaction that I haven't written short little novellas, I've written books. I don't know that I've lived the information in my stories - writing them is an experience in one sense, and that experience gets internalized. I love history, science, free thinking, life in general. Research is accomplished mostly through reading and interviewing people who lived in Persia or France. Raoul’s self-demolition was written after I spoke with the local Fire Chief. Asked lots of questions and let my imagination fly.

I think you must be as fascinating an individual as Erik. Are you really living in a Cathedral Cave, or is that some kind of analogy?!?

The Cathedral Cave is an analogy, a very apt one. It's more or less where my mind sees me as I write my stories. I actually live in a house in Southern California. Front door, back doors, kitchen, etc.

If you keep putting out books this fast, you must be working constantly on your writing. I'm going to have to get a Nook, but I still love to hold a hard cover book and turn pages, and there's that very special 'book smell'. Don't you think? I'm sure you would agree with me on this correct?

Laughing. I don’t own a Kindle, a Nook, or a Sony Reader. (Barely computer literate.) I do, however, have a loft/library full of books.

After reading The Disciples of the Night, I can't help but think with all the knowledge and information you have about Persia, France, must have this in your background and in your blood. Any comments?? I was also thinking, imagine if a movie was made from The Return of the Phantom, a producer would then have 3 books to follow! If three books are a trilogy what is 4 books???

Anyone can conduct research, but not everyone will carefully wash off the veneer and isolate the truth. I have never been to the Middle East. No thoughts about a movie. I’m writing books. I believe a fourth novel would make a series.

Have you read the “Shades of Gray” series? I would assume you would not read these books…am I right?

No, I haven't read any of the "Shades of Gray" books and don't plan on buying them. While I'm writing my own novels, reading other writers interferes with my concepts. That probably sounds strange, but most stories don't have what I want and they leave me frustrated. So, I write what I want to read: Action, mystery, preternatural suspense, erotica.

What’s your medical background?

Trauma and abnormal psychology. I've also worked with veterans who have sustained extensive facial and throat injury...many do not do well. The ability to communicate playing a key factor.

Why aren’t you on Facebook?

For a number of reasons - mostly I’m trying to remain creatively unscathed by the Internet. People are amazingly critical of honest work that's takes me literally years to produce. I discovered how quickly negativity sucks a writer dry, turned off the bilious faucet, and retreated. No thanks. Glad you're enjoying "The Disciples", remember it's basically a transition book. When I originally mapped out The Theater of the Lost I realized there was a whole novel lying somewhere between "The Tale" and" The Theater". Ha, joke was on the author.

Torossian is still my hero. We all have to have new heroes and he is such a wonderful part of Erik. To me he’s so much more the 'knight in shining armor'. I think Torossian will thrive in the next books along with the vampires. And upon reading the last chapter, I'm sure Muustah will play a big part in the next two books. What do you think? Am I correct? I praise you and this book and will read it again and again. SUCCESS TO YOU, ALWAYS!!

Be assured, Torossian and the vampires are all through The Theater of the Lost. Erik has a time wrangling agendas, especially given the worldwide situation of near catastrophe. Book number six is still a distant foggy project. I do jot down notes as they occur to me, but I'm far from a developed plot for that sixth novel. You are such a wonderful artist, think we could have your interpretation of what Torossian looks like? Just asking. (Chuckle.)

Christine does not do much for me in this book. She is so modern day. She fends for herself and I am not use to this personality of control and confidence. I will adjust. Although I certainly wish I could throw a punch like her. She is strong but as in the last chapter gives in to her love. Will she become more of a partner to Erik in the next two books?

In my first novel Christine presents herself as confident and sure of what she wants. She longs to be with Erik, she desires that he alone raise his children, and she's willing to best Raoul and Erik’s objections to make her goals a reality. In novel # 3, her initial education involved magazines showing her the more pronounced role of a modern female. These efforts by Thayer and Isidore hit home. In novel # 4 she likes this present-day world (what little she's seen of it). Her feminine wiles remain strongly focused on Erik. In # 5, The Theater of the Lost, the pair will better define themselves, and in # 6, The Concert of the Mysteries, Christine will once again be instrumental in bringing Erik back from the brink of madness. I’m happy to read any thoughts you care to share, my friend. I have a tough time writing about her, so if I succeed in any manner, I'm quite happy.

Your descriptions of lovemaking are over the top! The last two chapters have Erik in what seems to me "a coming out (or in) party". He desperately needs to experience more of his first life. He needs to become more of that suave and romantic Phantom that we know and love. I (as a reader of all your books) am not use to his new life. You’re the maestro, and I am positive he will retrieve all of his characteristics in the next two books. Am I correct? Will I once again thrive, tongue licking my lips, on his seductive personality?

In this last book Erik is still a teenager. Memories of his first life, like movies he remembers and played in, influence him. But he must go forward and participate in experiences that will help him to develop a suave romantic character. He almost instinctively knows how to push Christine's buttons as well as please her. He will grow in the next two novels, as will she.

I finished ‘The Disciples' and I am sorry that it has ended, but once again, it has until the next, here are my thoughts. This story is strong and flows with significant knowledge. As I read I felt your expertise of the content's authenticity. The foreign phrases you insert into the text (right along with their meanings) add color and dimension. They give an added cultural insight into the characters. Upon reading the last two chapters, my thoughts deviated completely to the old lovemaking thoughts between Erik and Christine. What a powerful ending to get these two back together again. Erik seems to have developed a more confident sexual self after his first (shall I say insertion) with Christine. They are both a determined pair of hungry entities. You took me by surprise completely with these two. Especially upon Torossian and Muustah-Veetnah's entrance! Kind of like two young lovers caught in the dirty deed. Didn't Torossian see this in advance?

Thanks for the compliments regarding the novel, especially the last two chapters. Torossian does not always anticipate coming events, especially while enjoying a brand new wife. Anna is his love and as a newly wed, she takes his focus. By the way, just a head's up, I do not consider sexual intimacy between two consenting adults a 'dirty deed'. This form of congress seems more a mystery of submission to me; a precise moment of conjoining that allows humans to rise to a very special place.

Your “matte-painting” book covers are magnificent! Incredible! Your artwork is amazing. I was actually thinking about your artwork reproduced on canvas. You should sell them as a standalone next Nov at the Street Faire and online. As you’re aware, your followers love reminisces of what they’ve read long after they’ve laid the book to rest. If canvas is well received, then print Posters…they’re fairly inexpensive.

Never thought of selling my artwork - don't know how I'd even approach replicating a marketable product. The Webmaster finally talked me into buttons and tote bags for the Street Faire...took years to convince me promotional items were a good idea.

Is your name Venezuelan? Do they know about you overseas?

The name is French-Portuguese. I’m a U.S. citizen. Do seem to have a small but loyal group of readers...I'm very grateful for each one and amazed they even know about me. More are outside the US than domestic - interesting statistic. Perhaps because I'm not well known, or it might be that with my medical background I write too graphically for a particular taste. Respectfully, I believe human intimacy is a priority - right up there with eating-sleeping-safety issues. Humans deprived of touch and acceptance don't fair well. It's pretty much a given that I am a fan of Gothic Horror. The environment (right alongside the characters) plays a dark and moody component in my stories.

Any words about the metaphysical in your books? I want to say how thrilled I was to see you introduce Zoroastrianism into your story. I can only hope that vampires are not real, but the fact that you had Muustah-Veetnah coming from a spaceship engendered a “yippee” from me.

Sincere thanks for your kind words. They are quite a compliment! Few readers understand why I entered the metaphysical realm in my writing. Leroux went there – happily. Personally I think the spiritual world is all around us; we're simply not attuned. Probably because pragmatics takes up all our time. We need to work, eat, sleep, etc. Erik is a dynamic personality. We are all many things, but he is akin to a diamond with a hundred brilliant facets. In 2006 I took to writing about him. His heart speaks so clearly to me. Working with damaged soldiers I've met him many times.

Please don’t forget to post your email announcement for the publication of The Disciples of the Night. I love going back and re-reading what was sent to members of your private email list.


The ancient cemetery housed acres of monuments and grave covers, literally dozens of elaborate moss covered statues in every manner of dramatic pose. the statue that most intrigued the young man was that of a rather desolate woman. Lying atop the grave of her lover, her weeping face obscured by her long marble fingers, she seemed forever frozen in a most excruciating moment of anguish and grief. At night the eerie figure was especially moving. Standing close by, lantern in hand, it almost seemed as if she breathed from time to time - sobbed occasionally - lost as she was in her inconsolable pain. To offer the distraught woman a few hours of blind solace, the young man brought his copy of The Disciples of the Night to the graveside. Patiently reading chapter after chapter out loud, he failed to notice the pale nightwalker coming to wait at the foot of a neighboring grave.

Touched at the visitor's devotion, the inquisitive creature waited for the reading to conclude before asking, in a most melodious voice, "Where does one purchase such a prize as you and this book you read?"

Lifting the book, the misguided comforter announced: “The Disciples of the Night, novel number four from Etienne de Mendes, is available in the Phantom's Store at…”

I would love to know your inspirations for wanting to write a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera and more about yourself.

My experience with the Phantom began when I was a child. I was raised for the most part by my paternal grandparents. Loving but strict Portuguese people. Practically every good trait I can lay claim to comes from their upbringing. On Saturdays, after chores, I got to watch movies. Spooky stuff was always my favorite. One Saturday I saw a black and white version of "The Phantom of the Opera" with Herbert Lom in the lead. At the end I sat there on the couch – shaking, crying – moved right down to my worn sneakers, stirred to a connection with this strange deformed man in a mask. He dies in the end of that movie. It may well be that this movie caused me to go into medicine. I know that in later years it played a part in my professional choices. Of that I'm sure because deformity, gross injury, misalignment of any kind has never troubled me when working with clients. I always see past the superficial flesh...thank you, Erik! It's been decades and I now own a copy of the above-mentioned movie. I've only been able to watch it once; it still has an effect on me. After Lom’s performance I read the novel by Leroux many times. Books are a great passion of mine. I honestly love them. One day in 2004, I was driving down the road and saw a theater sign for "The Phantom of the Opera". I was already well established in my life and hadn't thought about Erik for a number of years. Across my mind that's all I saw, the words: PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. I sailed through an intersection and was a half-mile down the road before I realized I'd thought of nothing else but those words. When I saw the 2004 movie I came home and asked myself..."Ok, what has to happen for Erik to start winning. Winning big. Winning everything." Trust me, my medical background told me that such a turn of events would take an enormous amount of personal work on his part, and some dyed-in-the-wool loyal-to-the-end OG associates. I went back and re-read the book and started making lists. Lists lead to sets of circumstances and the story started to unfold. The chapters sat in a notebook until someone very close to me insisted on reading it. I didn't start out wanting to be an author. Erik, and patients like Erik, drove me there. In my career I’ve worked with US military that have had their faces/throats destroyed in combat. Many do no do well. The ability to communicate often plays a key factor. I’ll end with a side note. On the scale of human needs, I place great priority on physical intimacy. Humans usually do not fair well without acceptance and touch. Our need for intimacy is right up there with food, sleep, and safety issues. Ingrained and primordial - it should never be down-played.

Leroux’s chamber of mirrors didn’t rotate? Why does yours?

Erik didn’t install that particular mechanism in the caverns, but he put it to good use at the chateau and will use it again in book five with yet a few more improvements.

When did Anna get her first real look at Torossian?

On their first visit to the island after that initial flight out of the airport. When they landed Torossian stayed away, but his attraction to her brought him closer. I believe he was pleasantly surprised to discover the his frightening appearance didn’t seem to bother her at all.

Though he is undeniably loyal, Torossian is not charming or handsome. What is the attraction for Anna?

She accepts that he’s different and initially seems to adore her. She’s never been worshipped and likes the feeling. With the passage of time, she’s drawn to his raw animalistic nature, his very unique presence, his strength and concern for his brother. Loves stirs when he leaves for Tehran and willingly volunteers to place himself in harm’s way for someone else. All her feelings blossom on the boat returning home. Anna is one of those straight arrows, always on course, never wavering. (Good contrast to other characters.) She’s also very honest and happy to voice that she reciprocates Torossian’s feelings.

The covers of the third and fourth books are dark and murky, not like novels one and two. Is there an underlying message?

All the covers reflect Erik’s evolution. Red for his passion and willingness to emerge from the dance studio. Orange-yellow represents a the vitality bestowed on him by a wife, children, and Raoul’s title. Life has taken him on a bumpy, unexpected journey. Purple, he’s reared in privilege on an estate – a recreation. Looking through the window, wondering why his mind sees such troubling visions. And now dark blue with Erik in a cavern – night so easily embraces him, shelters him, hides his deformities. Let’s make no mistake, he likes the treasure they’ve uncovered. He earned it and wants to enjoy owning the wealth of a Shah. Now that he is seamlessly reunited with the Phantom of the Opera, we can move on to The Theater of the Lost.

While Erik and Torossian search for (and subsequently move the treasure) what is Rakesh doing?

Excellent question! I never considered what a century-leaping, continent-hopping Magus would be up to…let me elaborate on the answer in the next installment.

Why do you spell Elburz with an E when current maps spell the mountain range with an A?

Seemed more fitting to choose the archaic spelling employed in the 1800’s. Gives the reader a clue to the power the Phantom’s psyche holds on his modern day replica.

After Isidore and Nyah burn the necrologies, what is inside the wooden crate in the hallway?

I deliberately left the crate unexplained. I want to have a game with the contents of that box. It will be posted in the coming months. Start thinking about what object might decrease the number of guards necessary to guard our captives.

Once they’re on the garbage scow and headed out to sea, why doesn’t Erik use Anna’s satellite phone and arrange to get himself off the boat and headed back toward France?

The practice of working through agents is deeply ingrained in his mind. This is one more heads-up to the reader: There is only one Erik now, not two.

At the end of Chapter 41 why does Erik measure Christine while she sleeps?

He does not trust her to stay put and marry him. A well-founded predicament given that in The Theater of the Lost she resists a wedding ceremony until she sees what damage has been done to his face. His reluctance to show her is rather compassionate and will be elaborated on in the next book.

Is there any way to pre-order your books? They are hard to get hold of in the UK.

At the moment books cannot be pre-ordered before the publishing date and the printer’s first run. After that they’re available. All the published books can be purchased from the website and most booksellers. We are currently thinking about producing our own audio CD for use on car trips, treasure hunting expeditions, laid-back rainy afternoons, etc. If I ever do get blessed with a regular first-rate publisher pre-ordering should not be a problem. I have seen the feature offered on Amazon.

Any idea when book number 4 will be published? And can you say something about your writing style?

I have no idea when the fourth book will be published, probably 2011. Right now I'm in the middle of writing the rough draft. For me it's like an oil painting. Buying the canvas is the sitting down and writing the outline - mulling over plot. Research slaps some basic thoughts into my brain - lots of notes and little chits scattered about. Those notes get thrown onto the counter like all the “just purchased paint pigments”. Unfolding the rough draft is where I start to sketch in who does what and why…the story starts to take on real shape. Next is the first re-write: whole sections are redefined, details added, and the tale begins to breathe with life. Every re-write thereafter adds color and more definition to the picture. Subtleties and contrasts (descriptive nuances) are important to me. If I'm weaving several stories together, like in The Tale of the Bloodline, the order of revealed information is a major priority. This fourth book, The Disciple of the Night, weaves three stories, not two, more interesting to my'll see why. I've sketched out a fifth book, The Theater of the Lost (I like that title). Its plot is one continuous tale centered around a place that Erik and Torossian have built. The characters introduced have seemingly little to do with one another, but we learn as the story goes on that their lives are all surprisingly intertwined. I love folding plots and characters back upon themselves. Contrasting Erik and Raoul in the first book was most some ways they were similar (love of Christine, a concept of public presentation, etc), but having Raoul destroy himself and then allowing Erik to step into his shoes...well, does it get any better for an author? In the second book I had that same sense of glee bringing Leroux into the plot. Lots of thinking there. Can you tell I love to write?

OMG. Your books are great. When can we expect your next novel?

I'm doing research now. Hopefully you will see it in the first quarter of 2012.

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The Phantom of the Opera

The Opera Ghost Returns

The Paris Opera House

The Return of the Phantom

The Season of the Witch

The Tale of the Bloodline

Etienne de Mendes

The Phantom

Christine Daae

Madame Giry

"Feast your eyes, glut your soul on my cursed ugliness!"

Gaston Leroux