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If you've read any of the books in the Dark Musicals Trilogy, you'll notice the basic theme is life imitating art. In Phantom, Demon, and Hyde, Justyn and Rebecca find their lives start to mirror the world of the characters they portray on the stage. However, this duality can also work in reverse. Sometimes art can imitate life--even when it's not intentional.
A few weeks ago, something miraculous happened in my life. The kind of thing that normally only occurs on soap operas or old episodes of Unsolved Mysteries. The younger brother I spent the last few years searching for finally made contact. Ironically, I was sitting at my desk, writing a chapter in Hyde when he replied to an email I sent him over a year ago on face book. Because we weren't "friends" it had gone into his junk folder. My fingers trembled as we chatted back and forth and I made so many type o's my editor would certainly have narrowed an eye. It was an amazing moment because not only had I found my brother Omar, I also found a kindred spirit.
So this might be a touching story of reunited siblings, but what does it have to do with The Dark Musicals Trilogy? Let me explain. Lord Justyn, the hero in the series, has a special place in my heart. He was a character that has always felt real to me on a level I couldn't quite explain. Now I think I figured out why Justyn was so special. I think I was channeling my brother when I created him.
The first and most obvious similarity between Justyn and Omar is their passion for music. Omar plays a variety of instruments including guitar, bass, keyboard, drums, and sitar! Yes, I said sitar, an instrument that makes an appearance in more than one of the Dark Musicals books. Strangely enough, I had literally just added a sitar player into a scene in Hyde the exact moment I received his email. I always say, there are no coincidences. But best of all, my brother Omar is an amazing singer!!! He has even performed on stage in musicals, just like Justyn.
Where wardrobe is concerned, Omar's taste runs more to punk than goth, but he certainly wears a lot of black from what I've seen. He also has the same style of black hair, the same physical build, and certainly the same charming mannerisms as Justyn. Neither of these guys are an alpha male, but personally that is how I prefer it. However, music and physical appearances are not the only common denominator between Omar and Justyn. While their spiritual paths are very different, Justyn being Pagan and Omar practicing Sufism, their basic philosophy is similar. They both embrace diversity and free thought in all aspects of life, and express this through their art. With heart and minds open, they see that the things that make us different aren't as important as the humanity that unites us.
Finally, and probably most importantly to fans of Lord Justyn, Omar shares Justyn's unique sense of romance. So many people have told me the scenes where Justyn sings to Becca make them swoon. A few others have rolled their eyes and claimed no man would ever be that charming in real life. Now I can prove those doubters wrong. This was my brother's status on face book just a few days ago. Of course, with Justyn it would have been an opera song instead of Queen, but still...
"There use to be a gazebo here, fifteen years ago I slow danced with a beautiful girl under it, there was no music, so I just sang, it was a queen song ...still one of my favorite memories, I should write a poem about it."
So yes, and you can see, art can imitate real life, even when you didn't intend it to happen. I started writing Phantom years before I ever knew Omar existed, and yet you'd think I had based Lord Justyn on him. But there really is a deeper connection here than what is happening in my fictional world. Lord Justyn might be a guy, but a lot of his thoughts are MY thoughts. In many ways, Justyn is a masculine version of myself which tells me that, even though Omar and I only recently met, we have more in common than most of the relatives I've known all my life. Omar is an amazing artist who embraces spirituality and is the type of man I can be proud to call my brother. This journey between us has only just begun, but it's one I am looking forward to exploring.
If you are interested in learning more about Omar, check out his music pages. Sarmust, his mystical dance/ punk activist/ indie rock group, are taking the Washington DC underground by storm. Evil Art Form is his other project which offers electronic music with a bit of a dark side--just one more way he's like Justyn. Listen to the lyrics, let them embrace your soul, and let our story be a reminder that there is always something magical waiting around the corner just when you least expect it.
Phantom, Book One int he Dark Musical Trilogy, Inspired by Phantom on the Opera
Demon, Book Two in the Dark Musicals Trilogy, inspired by Sweeney Todd