Friday, January 10, 2014

Becoming Josephine GIVEAWAY Continues with Author Interview: Heather Webb

As part of FRANCE BOOK TOURS, I had the immense pleasure of interviewing Author, Heather Webb. 

              1- What prompted you to write about Joséphine?

The idea for this novel came to me in two parts. I taught a unit about the French Revolution in my high school French classes for several years, which sparked my interest in the time period. Yet despite my teaching, I knew little about Josephine and I “discovered” her later. Ultimately she was a minor player in a sea of France’s most famous and infamous people during the Revolution—at least until Robespierre fell and the Directoire took over the government.

When I began to feel the pull to write a book, I had a dream about Josephine. Strange, but true. From the very first biography I read, I was hooked. Her vivid childhood home, her adaptable nature and courageous spirit had me enthralled. Her rich life story set to the backdrop of the chaotic Revolution and the opulent Napoleonic Empire cinched the deal.

 2- From your research, what have you found most fascinating about Josephine that maybe not everyone is aware of?
There are so many things I love about Josephine—she was a patron of the arts, an enthusiastic botanist, a fashion icon, but the most captivating things about her were her adaptable nature and courageous spirit, as I mentioned before, and her generosity to everyone she knew. I also enjoyed reading about her tumultuous love affairs! As for a few fun facts, Josephine had rotted teeth from chewing on sugarcane as a child. I didn’t reference it much in the novel because as modern readers, I think we would have a hard time viewing her as beautiful, charming woman with teeth like that. Also, Josephine had more jewels than any of France’s queens, as she possessed all of the royal jewels and a smorgasbord of jewelry garnered from the spoils of Napoleon’s wars.

3-Which modern woman of today's time would you most compare to Josephine?

Wow, this is a tough question. I’m not sure I can think of one…maybe a hybrid of Michelle Obama and Madonna. Ha! Just the thought makes me laugh. Perhaps someone more like Angelina Jolie who is beautiful and adored and does a lot of good for people (yet she has a bit of a reputation as a sex kitten as well).

4- Please describe the kind of research that you did for your novel.

I researched for about eight months before I wrote a single word, and then I continued to research in dribs and drabs throughout the entire writing process. I tried to take a comprehensive approach—biographies of important characters, histories of the Revolution as well as those of Martinique, Napoleon’s reprinted letters, primary sources scanned in Google Books, documentaries. I studied art and literature movements from this period, china patterns, fashion, weapons. I could go on. Researchitis is a disease we historical fiction writers suffer from.

5- Do you have any advice for aspiring historical fiction novelists?

One: If you want to be traditionally published, study the trends. Walk through a bookstore and see what’s selling. Sometimes the fact that’s it’s never been done before is a bad thing—it means it won’t sell. Beware of that. You may want to reevaluate your goals. For the record, I didn’t do this before I began Becoming Josephine, but I have since.
Two: I read and research widely, which includes travel, but I am not a historian. I’m a novelist. I grow tired of the constant push and pull between “he/she’s accurate” or “he/she’s inaccurate”—all of the finger pointing historical novelists do to each other. My advice to aspiring writers is to enjoy researching and writing about your topic. Pay attention to detail, but remember that history is far more fluid than what the “experts” say and fiction even more so. What you want is to entertain readers, enflame their imaginations—their hearts! And inspire them to want to read more on a subject. If you’ve managed to do that, you’ve done your job. Readers can consult the many nonfiction books on a given topic until their heart’s content, if they so choose. In other words, don’t get bogged down in every fact and detail. In fact, you will have people tell you that you’re wrong about a particular point, even if you taken it straight from a primary source. It’s happened. 

6- Please tell us of any future projects you may be working on.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you much at this time as it’s still top secret. What I can say is it’s a novel about art, love, and the line between obsession and madness set to the backdrop of Belle Époque Paris.
THANK YOU Heather!


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Thursday, Jan 2
Review + Giveaway at I Am, Indeed
Friday, Jan 3
Review + Giveaway at Queen of All She Reads
Review at Jorie Loves A Story
Saturday, Jan 4
Review + Giveaway at The Most Happy Reader
Sunday, Jan 5
Review + Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Review at Books A To Z
Monday, Jan 6
Review + Giveaway at
Wednesday, Jan 8
Review + Giveaway at Words And Peace
Thursday, Jan 9
Review + Giveaway at Enchanted by Josephine
Friday, Jan 10
Interview at Enchanted by Josephine
Review at Ciska’s Book Chest
Saturday, Jan 11
Special Spotlight at Enchanted by Josephine


Unknown said...

I have been looking forward to the publication of this novel for some time. Poor Josephine! Rotten teeth, but lots of jewels. . .Please enter me in the giveaway. Thank you, Jacqueline Baird msdotgeneralleeatgmaildotcom.

Linda said...

Enjoyed this author interview. Interesting comparison to Angelina Jolie. I'm eager to read this novel. Josephine was such an interesting personality. Thanks for the giveaway.