Friday, September 19, 2014

Why I Wrote Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

Becoming Josephine
Heather Webb

Rose Tascher sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris to trade her Creole black magic culture for love and adventure. She arrives exultant to follow her dreams of attending Court with Alexandre, her elegant aristocrat and soldier husband. But Alexandre dashes her hopes and abandons her amid the tumult of the French Revolution.

Through her savoir faire, Rose secures her footing in high society, reveling in handsome men and glitzy balls—until the heads of her friends begin to roll.

After narrowly escaping death in the blood-drenched cells of Les Carmes prison, she reinvents herself as Josephine, a socialite of status and power. Yet her youth is fading, and Josephine must choose between a precarious independence and the love of an awkward suitor. Little does she know, he would become the most powerful man of his century- Napoleon Bonaparte.

Becoming Josephine is a novel of one woman’s journey to find eternal love and stability, and ultimately to find herself.

Reasons Why I Had to Write Josephine

I believe in the Muse; that sparkle of inspiration, that whispering of voice in your ear. And that’s precisely what happened to me for my first novel. When my new passion gripped me and I knew I had to write a novel, I literally had a dream about Josephine that very night. Mind you, I knew almost nothing about her at that point, though my recent trip to France and my unit on the French Revolution (at the high school where I taught) were fresh in my mind. It was one of those dreams where you can’t make out the person’s face, yet you know who it is. Josephine led me through an unknown palace and through gardens. I awoke with her voice in my head and I knew! This was it. I rushed to the library and checked out every biography I could find, and so it began! But there were other reasons that compelled me to write her story. Let’s take a look at a few perspectives.

As a writer:

An Adventurous Life Makes for Good Storytelling—From near-drowning at sea, to slave revolts, civil unrest in the streets of Paris, and a seriously close call with Madame Guillotine, one could say Josephine’s life was unparalleled on the adventure front. And then there were all of those soirées and royal pilgrimages. Plus, who doesn’t love hundreds of handmade gowns? In short, as a writer I was thrilled by the incredible array of events. They made for terrific story-telling.

Colorful Settings as a Hook—Another writer’s dream! I got to hang out (metaphorically speaking) in Martinique, the île aux fleurs—the island of flowers, as it’s called. I had more fun cooking up ways to illustrate that steamy, overgrown, and wildly beautiful setting then perhaps the other locations. When Josephine arrived in Paris for the first time, I got to relay the city’s splendor and horrors, and the same for Italy.

Character Change Arcs—Josephine, or Rose, as she was truly named, changed tremendously from her fairly ignorant and uncouth ways when she first arrived in Paris. She learned the ropes as a proper socialite from new friends, and made her way to the top of the social ladder. Enter Napoleon and her inner self was challenged like never before. Good fodder for juicy stories!

As a reader:

Variety Tis the Spice of Life—I had fallen in love with Josephine’s story after reading those first biographies and discovered there were very few novels about her life. I wanted more, more, more! So I strived to give readers a fresh take that demonstrated the deeply sympathetic, yet complex woman she was. I disliked how previous accounts painted her solely as flighty and weak-natured, down-trodden and a victim of her times. In my Josephine I saw a woman bravely face one of the most tumultuous and dangerous eras in history. Not only did she brave it, but she thrived through her charms, her business ventures, and her will. I felt she deserved to have the other side of her story told. We are all paradoxical beings after all, and the one-sided views of her had lacked this sense.

As a lover of history:

Historical Intrigue at its Finest—The French Revolution was a fascinating time. This is an understatement. It was not only a time of a fallen monarchy, but the rise of human rights, the banishment of a class system, and the strong emergence of feminism. A shift in ideologies sparked by the Enlightenment and wars abroad. Women held much of the power at their influential salons, spoke freely about the changing political structure and social mores, both in their homes and in public forums. They penned pamphlets and led many of the riots themselves. Divorce became legal and the system of measurements nationalized. The new world was at hand. Such struggle, push and pull, and strive for the betterment of the French citizen captivated me. I had to know more, and what better way to experience it but through the eyes of a most beloved figurehead.

And then I fell in love with sculptress Camille Claudel for my next book, Rodin’s Lover, but that’s a story for another day...

About the Author

As a former military brat and traveling addict, it was tricky choosing a landing pad. At last, I settled in a rural town in New England. For a decade I put my degrees in French and Cultural Geography to good use teaching and coaching high school students. When the writing bug hit, I left my job to make my way in the dangerous world of publishing.

At this juncture, I’m writing historical novels for Plume/Penguin and working as a freelance editor. You may find me lurking at award-winning writing sites, including and where I am a contributor. I also kick around a local college teaching classes called "Write to Publish" and "Crafting Your Novel."

When not writing, I flex my foodie skills or geek out on history and pop culture. Then there’s all that beach time I try to squeeze in...

My next book, Rodin's Lover, about two sculptures and their passionate love affair, art scandal, and madness, releases in January 2015. I am represented by agent Michelle Brower of Folio Literary Management.


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Becoming Josephine—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
If you could write a novel about any historical topic—whether it be a period drama, romance, or whatever else you desire—what event or era would you write about?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Heather and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the author and tour publicist—a huge thank you to Heather and TLC Book Tours!
Giveaway ends October 3rd at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canadian residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!