Friday, January 3, 2014

Blog Tour Q&A with Heather Webb, Author of Becoming Josephine

Please join me in welcoming debut author Heather Webb to Let Them Read Books! Heather is touring the blogosphere with her newly released novel, Becoming Josephine, which I absolutely LOVED. (Click here to read my review.) Heather was gracious enough to sit down and answer some of my burning questions about Josephine, and she's brought along a copy to give away! Without further ado, here she is!

Hi Heather! Thanks for taking the time to appear on the blog! 

My pleasure! Thanks for having me :)

When was your imagination first captured by Josephine?

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 writing 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.

What kind of sources did you use to bring Josephine's personality to life in your novel?

Dozens of biographies, Napoleon’s letters, references about the Revolution and just about every prop you can imagine—china patterns, military uniforms, makeup, books, music and pop culture from the era. I even made a few recipes that were popular then.

In the novel, Josephine's life is full of drama, and she bears firsthand witness to the atrocities of rebellion. Did she experience those events in real life?

Two of the more thrilling scenes in the novel were imagined—chasing Hortense through the slave quarters and the scene of the September Massacre where she sees a nun being murdered. However, in both cases, the scenes were based upon the fact that no one escaped those horrible, violent events on some level, and she lived in a location that was in the thick of the action. Her apartment in Paris was one street over from the convent where nuns were being murdered, so I wrote the scene based on the assumption that she had, at the very least, heard the riots. To show her witnessing it allows the reader to have a firsthand view of the violence, rather than simply through dialogue. In terms of the slave whipping, that was commonplace on her plantation and in the streets at that time with all of the uprisings, though I suspect it left a lasting horrific imprint on her as it would any bystander. The other events—her fleeing to the ship from a slave revolt at the last minute was true to life, just as her time in prison was.

If you could sit down with Josephine today, what would you ask her?

I’d ask her if she would do it all again—the men, the dutiful wife to Napoleon, the pressures and many sorrows—or if she would relive her life more simply and out of the spotlight.

What are you working on now?

I can’t go into great detail at this time, but it’s a novel set during the Belle Époque in 1880s Paris. It’s about two artist lovers and the fine lines between love, obsession, and madness.

Thanks, Heather! Can't wait to see what you come up with next.

And now are you guys ready for a chance to win your own copy of the novel I'm officially proclaiming as the one to beat in 2014?


Leave a comment on this post with your email address for a chance to win a copy of
Becoming Josephine!

This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada and ends at 11:59pm Thursday, January 16, 2014. Winner will be selected at random. Thanks, and good luck!

This giveaway is closed and the winner has been selected.
Check my sidebar for more great giveaways!

Becoming Josephine is on a blog tour!


  1. I've read other novels about Josephine, but this one sounds like it will bring some new information about this fascinating woman.

  2. This novel sounds fascinating and intriguing. Thanks for this giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  3. Thanks for the interview and the giveaway. This sounds like a great addition to the historical fiction of revolutionary France. Please enter my name in the draw. Thanks. carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

  4. This book has been on my TBR list since I first heard about it. Glad you enjoyed it so much and will definitely move this one to the top of my list.

    tmrtini at gmail (dot) com

  5. I am really looking forward to reading this book, especially after reading so many glowing reviews. The French Revolution is one of my favorite historical fiction eras. Thanks for the giveaway!

    DeniseK1 at Outlook dot com

  6. This sounds like a perfect winter read! Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

  7. Great interview!

  8. Great interview! I finished Becoming Josephine yesterday and thought it was great! The French Revolution era is not one of my favourite time periods to read about, but I do like books that feature Josephine -- what an interesting life she led!

  9. Josephine has always seemed like a mysterious, illusive personality to me; I'd love to read a well-researched novel featuring her, such as Becoming Josephine. Thank you for the chance to win a copy! ~ susanfobryant at gmail dot com

  10. definitely a book I would enjoy!!
    thank you for the giveaway!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

  11. Thanks for the giveaway . This book sounds great.

    fmd518 at gmail dot com

  12. Thank you for the giveaway. I loved the exhibition about Napoleon and his family, that our local art gallery had in the spring.The embroidery on the court dress was amazing!

  13. I do not know very much about Josephine and am now intrigued.

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  14. Great interview have been reading so much about this book.would love to read

  15. I've never read anything about Josephine and it sounds fascinating

  16. I've been seeing this novel everywhere on the internet, and it has me intrigued. Many good reviews out - yours included, Jenny. Josephine is a fascinating character.


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