Not only do I have a fabulous #WomensHistoryReads interview from a talented writer to publish today, I don't even need to write an introduction! Heather Webb's impressive bio speaks for itself:
Heather Webb is the international bestselling author of women’s historical novels Becoming Josephine, Rodin’s Lover, Last Christmas in Paris, and The Phantom’s Apprentice, which have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly and more, as well as received national starred reviews. In 2015, Rodin’s Lover was selected as a Goodreads Top Pick, and in 2017, Last Christmas in Paris became a Globe and Mail bestseller. To date, Heather’s novels have sold in multiple countries worldwide. She is also a professional freelance editor, and teaches craft courses at a local college. When not writing, you may find her collecting cookbooks or looking for excuses to travel. She lives in New England with her family and one feisty rabbit.
Greer: Do you consider yourself a historian?
Heather: I wouldn't call myself a historian, necessarily, as they spend years of dedicated academic study followed by intensive research in one area and era, typically, and truly become specialists. I would certainly say I'm a history-lover, and have always been one. My dad inspired that love in me with his old Hollywood films, "Little House on the Prairie," and endless westerns, and our dozens of trips to war or history museums all over the country and many in Europe as well.
Greer: What do you find most challenging or most exciting about researching historical women?
Heather: I find an awful lot of it exciting--the inexplicable and strange details that seem too weird to be real; the trail-blazing women who fought through so much to achieve their dreams, or even just to survive in a man's world; striking on a person or event in which a woman has done something so spectacular that it seems impossible she has been overlooked in the annals of history; spending time in a courageous woman's head. I adore getting lost in the research and in my characters' hearts and minds. What I find challenging? Publishing is a business, in the end, so the powers that be don't always believe a particular woman's story will resonate with enough readers to make it worth their while to purchase the book and put it on shelves. This is challenging to a writer who enjoys mining for nuanced stories and people.
Greer: Who are some of your favorite authors working today?
Heather: I learn of new favorite authors every single year as there are always so many glorious new books to read. My current favorites are Paula McLain, John Green, Jessie Burton, Jo Baker, and Jennifer Donnelly. I also adore Sena Jeter Naslund, Tom Robbins, and Elizabeth Gilbert.
Greer: Lots of great names there!
Heather: My question for you: How did you discover your love for historical fiction?
Greer: Totally by accident! I'd always been a historical fiction reader, because I read just about everything, but I didn't write historical fiction until I had an out-of-the-blue realization: I'd always seen images of male magicians cutting women in half, but never anything about a female magician cutting a man in half. And I wanted to write a book about a woman who would. But it would have been a very different book with a contemporary setting, and I wanted it to take place in the golden age of magic, so my fictional illusionist could make front-page headlines. So I wrote THE MAGICIAN'S LIE, which is set primarily in 1905. And for several years after that, every idea I had was a historical fiction idea, and right now those are the stories that move me enough to dedicate hours, weeks, years to writing them down.
In this re-imagining of Phantom of the Opera, meet a Christine Daaé you’ve never seen before…
Christine faces an impossible choice: be a star at the Paris opera as Papa always wanted, or follow her dream—to become a master of illusions. First, she must steal the secrets of the enigmatic master who haunts her, survive a world of treachery and murder, and embrace the uncertain promise of love. To succeed, she will risk her life in the grandest illusion of all.
Here's where you can find out more about Heather and her books:
FB: https://www.facebook.com/msheatherwebb/ (Heather Webb, Author)
(And as always, stay tuned for another #WomensHistoryReads interview tomorrow! We've got a lot more March to go...)