Tuesday, January 21, 2014

HF Virtual Book Tours Author Interview and Giveaway: Heather Webb, Author of Becoming Josephine

I am very excited to welcome Heather Webb here to A Bookish Affair today!

 1. Why do you think so many people find Josephine so fascinating?

You know, I didn’t realize many people did when I began writing about her. I just knew that I loved her story. When I began research, I couldn’t believe how few biographies there were out there about her. There are 200+ of Napoleon and only a couple dozen about her—several of which are in French only. (Good thing that wasn’t a problem for me.) Also, there was very little fiction that focused on her life as well, which blew me away. I knew RIGHT AWAY I had to tell her story. Her vivacity, generous spirit, and ultimately, her faults, are what make her so interesting to me. Mix those together with a highly volatile era in history and a few thousand glamorous gowns and how can you resist her?

2. What's the strangest or most interesting fact you found doing research for this book?

There are so many things! Josephine 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, and her generosity to everyone she knew—even her enemies. I also enjoyed reading about her tumultuous love affairs!

As for facts that surprised me, there are many: the absurdity of how citizens were condemned during the Terreur, the number of deaths that happened under Napoleon’s command, and the rapid change of laws and social mores, even within a few days’ time. I was fascinated by how much women were involved with the Revolution, both through their political influence at salons and even amidst the fighting in the streets.

3. Did you do any traveling for research for "Becoming Josephine?" Why did you or did you not feel traveling for research was necessary?

Traveling is always a good idea, I think. Each place has its own soul and heartbeat and that’s a very intangible and difficult quality to nail down via internet or books. That being said, I didn’t travel specifically for this novel, but I spent time in France in college, and as a teacher I brought groups of high school students abroad. Plus I’ve had a couple of personal trips as well. Those experiences combined with years of studying French history and culture enabled me to portray an understanding of the people and times that I wouldn’t have been able to communicate had I not spent time there. In terms of Martinique, I’ve never traveled there before, but my Master’s degree is in Latin American Studies and I did field work in the jungles of Belize and Guatemala. I’ve spent time in Puerto Rico and Mexico. Once again, my travel experiences proved useful to me when I was describing Rose/Josephine’s jungle home.
I fully intend to head back to France this summer where I’ll be researching for my next two books. I also plan on taking the unofficial Josephine tour.

4. Did you find it difficult to blend fact and fiction in this book? Why or why not?

I struggled with this aspect quite a bit—when is there too much history? Balancing so-called truths with fiction and coloring it all through the character’s emotional lens is real a challenge. I spent an inordinate amount of time reading about the political situation of each of these issues, and let me tell you, it was a very complex time in history. So yes, it was difficult to wade through all of the material and decide what mattered most, but ultimately how I decided what mattered was through Josephine herself—I only included people and events that Josephine witnessed and/or were affected by.

5. If you could pick any three fictional characters or historical figures to bring to a deserted island with you, who would you bring and why?

Ha! This is an impossible question! There are so many characters and historical figures I love, but I would never want to be stranded with them. I guess I’d choose Jamie Fraser from Outlander because he’s a hottie, Victor Hugo or someone similar for intellectual conversations, and Josephine (or maybe Elizabeth Bennett) for friendship.


I am excited to be able to giveaway a copy of Becoming Josephine (U.S. and CAN only)! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Wednesday, January 1
Review & Interview at HF Book Muse-News
Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Thursday, January 2
Review at Let Them Read Books
Review & Giveaway at WTF Are You Reading?
Friday, January 3
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Monday, January 6
Review & Giveaway at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, January 7
Review & Giveaway at Scandalous Women
Wednesday, January 8
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, January 9
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Friday, January 10
Review at Turning the Pages
Monday, January 13
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, January 14
Review at Unabridged Chick
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Wednesday, January 15
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Thursday, January 16
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Monday, January 20
Review at A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, January 21
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, January 22
Review at A Book Geek
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book!
Thursday, January 23
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Interview & Giveaway at Oh, For the Hook of a Book!
Friday, January 24
Review at Book-alicious Mama
Monday, January 27
Interview at Erika Mailman Blog
Review & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Tuesday, January 28
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Wednesday, January 29
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Thursday, January 30
Interview at HF Connection
Friday, January 31
Review at Books in the Burbs
Monday, February 3
Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Tuesday, February 4
Review at A Muse in the Fog
Wednesday, February 5
Review at A Bookish Libraria
Interview at A Muse in the Fog
Friday, February 7
Review at Silver’s Reviews
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  1. Josephine's era in history is such an interesting time period. My favorite way to learn history is through HF. The book sounds great.

  2. Thanks for this fascinating giveaway which interests me greatly for the era and the individual. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  3. Thanks for the giveaway. Sounds great. jtretin at aol dot com

  4. I would love to read Becoming Josephine!!
    congrats & good luck to Heather!!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

  5. I don't know very much about Josephine so this looks like an interesting book.

  6. I am really glad she decided to write about Josephine. I have never once read a novel about Josephine (though there are all kinds of books about Napoleon) and this sounds like a great story! Thank you for chance to win!

    lafra86 at gmail dot com

  7. I have wanted to read Becoming Josephine since I first heard about it a few months ago. It has gotten amazing reviews from some of my favorite book bloggers (including you Meg). I am looking forward to reading it soon. Also I put my wrong twitter name in the Rafflecopter form by mistake and I don't see a way to go back and change it. Sorry about that.

  8. Thanks for the chance to win Becoming Josephine. Everyone loves a rags-to-riches story, especially when it's based in fact and this looks like a particularly good one to me. Thanks again.

  9. Would love to read it. Thanks for the chance!


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