Inspired by her favorite author CS Lewis, link discount Paisley Swan Stewart describes herself as a person of magical thinking. She spent her youth performing in musical theater and studying classical voice. She began writing songs and poetry in her early teens, and is an accomplished colored pencil artist who once sold her artwork through her family owned and operated gift shop-gallery. Paisley notes that her writing is often influenced by her personal faith in Jesus Christ, and her diverse artistic interests.
Paisley and her husband of 35 years reside in a modest home in the beautiful Pacific NW. When not busy with home improvements, the couple enjoy spending time with their closest friends, and taking walks in their favorite local park. Between them, they have 3 grown sons and 3 grandchildren. Paisley and her husband are currently making the most of his retirement by landscaping their property, and by enjoying the many doves, hummingbirds, wild birds and squirrels that visit their yard.
An avid fan of social networking, in the winter of 2005, Paisley began regularly communicating with her readers when she first submitted Chanson de l’Ange in a chapter by chapter format on a Phantom of the Opera fiction website. Nestled with a laptop in her comfortable chair, on any given day Paisley continues her outreach to fans and friends as she plots the intricacies of her next novel.
My pen name is Paisley Swan Stewart but I am known as Swansong (Swannie) on internet communities. I chose to use a pen name that is meaningful to me because people never pronounce my married name correctly, and because I wanted to use my maiden name in honor of my real father’s Scottish heritage.
Growing up as a lonely and introspective child I recognized man’s cruelty to his fellow man, and was profoundly disturbed when children were ridiculed and bullied by others because of their physical appearance.
As a skinny and physically awkward little girl I did not fit with other children. I was unhealthy, my eyes were too big behind thick glasses, and my complexion was too pale. I rarely played outdoors and chose to remain indoors while the neighborhood kids played kick ball and hide-n-seek, and thus I was nicknamed “the mole.”
My preteen years remain shrouded in family secrets and my stepfather’s escalating alcoholism. I sought to escape his negative influence through books, movies and music, gravitating to musicals and movies from the 30?s 40?s and 50?s. Often staying up late into the night, I enjoyed the old black and white horror films like Dracula, Frankenstein and King Kong. I was sympathetic to these monsters, perhaps relating personally to their outcast stories.
The first time I saw the Lon Chaney silent version of Phantom of the Opera I was about eleven. I was frightened but equally fascinated by the masked Phantom, the movie’s man/monster whose real name was Erik.
Later I came across the colorful film adaptation starring Claude Rains and I developed my first crush on a movie character. His voice floating through the mirror enthralled me, and the melancholy melody he played on the violin was unforgettable. I thought him so handsome in the mysterious mask and was captivated by his efforts to win the trust of the young opera singer.
In the early 90?s, my husband and I attended an LA based performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage musical starring Michael Crawford. I shall never forget the first commanding chords played on the dark organ as the gold and crystal chandelier rose above the gasping audience. When the Phantom first appeared in the mirror I forgot everything else around me; the audience, the auditorium…they all receded into the swirling mist as he beckoned Christine through the glass.
Dressed in elegant tails and black opera cloak, he gracefully prowled across the stage, with the half-mask erotic and spell binding. I watched breathlessly as the tragic story came to life through Webber’s soaring music. The performance was hypnotic and deeply sensual, but for me the drama resonated beyond its Victorian romance and beautiful score.
The Phantom is a man of superior intellect and artistic intelligence who, because of a hideous facial deformity is denied acceptance and love. He is forced to remain on the outside looking in and can never know the warmth of human touch. His soul is twisted and his psyche damaged through his self imposed isolation in the opera house cellars where he exists as a shadow, a ghost…a haunted creature to be feared and obeyed.
But the Phantom is no monster. He is only a man who desires to walk unmasked in the daylight, who craves someone to share his music, his heart and his body. Underneath the ugly skin Erik longs to be loved just like the rest of us.
In December of 2004, as I watched enthralled by Joel Schumacher’s film version starring Gerard Butler, in my memories I was once again awash in the flickering light of an old black and white television where a lonely little girl wept real tears for the Phantom of the Opera.
My own story however, will have a happy ending because despite my emotional and physical scars I found true love and a deep abiding faith in God. As I grow older my own need for masks and disguises diminishes, and I am learning to love myself for who I am… as alas, poor Erik never could.
Paisley Swan Stewart