We’re so excited to be kicking off our conjoined bookstagram and blog tour for Jessica S. Olson’s Sing Me Forgotten! This gorgeous book is an exciting, genderbent Phantom of the Opera retelling with a slight twist.
If you haven’t already, make sure to add this book to your TBR, follow our hosts and the author, and celebrate this book’s release with us! We hope you enjoy this tour as much as we will, and we hope you’re excited for Sing Me Forgotten.
Sing Me Forgotten
by Jessica S. Olson
Releasing on March 9th, 2021
Published by Inkyard Press
YA FICTION–Fantasy, Romance, Retellings
Isda does not exist. At least not beyond the opulent walls of the opera house.
Cast into a well at birth for being one of the magical few who can manipulate memories when people sing, she was saved by Cyril, the opera house’s owner. Since that day, he has given her sanctuary from the murderous world outside. All he asks in return is that she use her power to keep ticket sales high—and that she stay out of sight. For if anyone discovers she survived, Isda and Cyril would pay with their lives.
But Isda breaks Cyril’s cardinal rule when she meets Emeric Rodin, a charming boy who throws her quiet, solitary life out of balance. His voice is unlike any she’s ever heard, but the real shock comes when she finds in his memories hints of a way to finally break free of her gilded prison.
Haunted by this possibility, Isda spends more and more time with Emeric, searching for answers in his music and his past. But the price of freedom is steeper than Isda could ever know. For even as she struggles with her growing feelings for Emeric, she learns that in order to take charge of her own destiny, she must become the monster the world tried to drown in the first place.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your book?
Of course! I’m Jessica S. Olson, and I’m the author of Sing Me Forgotten, which is a YA fantasy gender-swapped retelling of The Phantom of the Opera! I grew up absolutely obsessed with music. I started piano lessons at a very young age, and also did voice lessons and flute lessons as I got older, and have even dabbled in the organ as an adult. My parents constantly played music in my home during my childhood—broadway showtunes, classical piano, orchestra, everything! So Sing Me Forgotten is really like a love letter to music—if I hadn’t become a writer, I would almost certainly have chosen to be a musician. Nothing is more magical to me than music.
What is a repeating idea you had when writing Sing Me Forgotten?
I think the biggest thing for me as I wrote this book was that I wanted to be able to show how a person could become a villain like the Phantom. He didn’t start out angry and obsessive. He was driven there by a cruel, unloving world, and I wanted to tell that story. My hope was that it would cause people to reexamine how they define monstrosity and recognize that sometimes evil can be as subtle as the way we treat people in our day-to-day, mundane lives.
If you had to pick one place in the world to write, where would it be and why?
Probably Paris? I did a study abroad there during college, and I fell in love with it. It’s such a magical place full of music and people and sounds and smells. I’d love to someday be able to sit out on a balcony overlooking Paris eating croissants as I type a novel. It would be a dream!
Are there any characters in your books based on people you know or have met in real life?
I actually drew a lot for the main character, Isda, from my own life and experiences. Her pain and anger stemmed from my own. I was born with an eye condition that affects my appearance, and all growing up I was bullied for it. Even as an adult, I experience discrimination because of it, and though it’s something I’ve come to terms with now and try not to let take over my life, it has been a very defining factor in every social situation I’ve ever experienced. It’s why I wanted to tell the Phantom’s story. I connected most with him because I have felt similar emotions. I’ve been rejected because of something about my appearance I had no control over. I’ve been hurt and cast out. So I channeled all of that hurt and anger into Isda and compounded it. I’ve never cried as much writing any other character as I did writing her, because so much of her experiences came from my own.
Another character based partially on a real person is Emeric. I actually drew a lot of inspiration for him from my husband. I knew I wanted to write a sweet, funny, loving person to offset Isda’s darkness, someone who could show her laughter and joy. My husband is the epitome of those things, so a lot about Emeric came from him. Even a few of the things Emeric says in the book are almost word-for-word quotes of something my husband has said.
What would you say is an interesting author quirk you have?
I can’t write at a desk very well. For some reason, the words flow so much easier for me if I’m curled up with my laptop on the couch or in a comfy chair. It’s not great for my back or my posture, but for some reason sitting at a desk makes everything harder. Yeah, I don’t get it, either.
Is there a specific scene in Sing Me Forgotten that you’re obsessed with?
Oh, yes. There’s a scene inspired from The Phantom of the Opera’s “Music of the Night” scene that I just love. I can’t wait for everyone to read it!
Is there a specific theme in your book that you can easily point out?
The biggest theme I want readers to consider when reading Sing Me Forgotten is that monstrosity is so much more complex than what a person looks like on the outside. Sometimes the most beautiful people can be monsters.
Another one I really hope readers get out of it is that a girl doesn’t have to be pretty or “likeable” to have a story worth telling. There are so many books out there about morally gray men, and audiences cheer those men on and love them. I wanted to write a story about a morally gray girl. There will be people out there who hate Isda because she doesn’t play nice. Because she’s at times selfish. Because she’s angry and hateful. But I hope that most people, even if they don’t like her necessarily, will resonate with her story and will root for her anyway. Because I want teen girls to know that being pretty and nice aren’t the characteristics that decide whether or not they have value.
What do you hope readers take away/learn about from your book?
I hope they walk away wanting to love people more freely, that they think more about how they treat others and consider how their actions could affect those they come into contact with.
Jessica S. Olson claims New Hampshire as her home, but has somehow found herself in Texas, where she spends most of her time singing praises to the inventor of the air conditioner. When she’s not hiding from the heat, she’s corralling her three wild—but adorable—children, dreaming up stories about kissing and murder and magic, and eating peanut butter by the spoonful straight from the jar. She earned a bachelor’s in English with minors in editing and French, which essentially means she spent all of her university time reading and eating French pastries. Sing Me Forgotten is her debut novel.
Jessica is represented by Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis Literary Agency.