Interview with Sandra Gulland & Giveaway: The Game of Hope

Hello and Happy Monday, dear readers! Today on the blog I am very excited to be hosting the lovely Sandra Gulland! Sandra is currently on blog tour for The Game of Hope and she was nice enough to answer some questions for us. We also have a chance for you to win a copy of the book, so be sure to see the giveaway below.

Hello Sandra and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about The Game of Hope!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your novel?

I'm an editor turned writer; an American turned Canadian; a horse-woman turned watercolorist. Wife, mother, and grandmother. The Game of Hope, my first YA and sixth published novel, is about Josephine's daughter and Napoleon's stepdaughter, the lively, talented Hortense de Beauharnais.

How were you inspired to write The Game of Hope?

Penguin Canada (together with Penguin US) came to me with the idea for a YA about Hortense. They wrapped their candy-laden proposal in ribbons and bows. Seriously! It was seductive, but I thought about it for some time, revisiting Hortense's story and covering our dining room table with possible scene cards. And then I got hooked.

What type of research did you do for writing The Game of Hope?

Like all historical novelists, I'm a compulsive researcher. I already had quite a lot of information about the Napoleonic Era from writing the Josephine B. Trilogy, but I knew only the basics about Madame Campan and her boarding school for girls in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the school Hortense went to. Getting details about daily life at that school entailed finding a number of key consultants and taking a trip to France. An academic and I even hired a researcher to go into the archives to find a stash of letters written by a student at the school. In terms of hands-on research, I learned how to read the beautiful fortunetelling cards, "The Game of Hope," which I became fond of, drawing cards every morning before writing.

Did you find anything in your research that was particularly fascinating or that helped shape the novel?

I was writing the forth draft when I discovered that the young composer Hyacinthe Jadin was Hortense's music teacher. He was only twenty-four, charming in appearance, and brilliant, to judge by the extensive body of work he had already created. He became a very important character in the novel — as he was in Hortense's life, no doubt. Their relationship became central to the novel, changing everything!

What was your favorite scene to write?

I very much enjoyed writing the scenes that included the somewhat frightening fortuneteller, Madame Lenormand, creator of "The Game of Hope." I especially enjoyed writing the spooky scene toward the end of the novel, when Hortense and her mother go to visit her. It's an emotionally pivotal scene, in any case, but what helped to flesh it out were detailed historical accounts. I also benefited from the help of two excellent consultants on Lenormand.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

The closing scene! Big, everything-happening-at-once scenes (often called "set scenes") are always challenging, but closing scenes are especially so because of all the subplots and characters converging at once. At the same time, with this particular scene, the focus had to be intimate, close in; the reader needed to have the sense that for Hortense, time had stopped.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I didn't aspire to be a writer so much as to simply write a book. Just one. I had had this ambition since I was a teen. Instead I worked as an editor in book publishing, which was fulfilling in its way.
But was I writing that book? No.

When I turned forty, however, I read a self-help book that suggested I imagine the words on my tombstone. The words that came to me were: She never got around to it. I didn't want that! And so I began. Ten years and several failed attempts later, I had The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. in my hand. Wish fulfilled? Not exactly! The instant I put it that book on my shelf I wanted to see an entire shelf of books by me.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

I'm a slow writer, and my greatest challenge has been to create publishable work sooner. Typically, I will write nine drafts, and even then I'll be reluctant to let it go to press. I have not overcome this problem! Instead, I've simply accepted it as part of my process.

Who are your writing inspirations?

Fine novels, beautifully written, are a constant inspiration. One novel I read at eighteen and which I've reread several times is A Walk With Love and Death by Hans Koningsberger (now Hans Koning). It's a beautifully spare, rather short historical, a love story that ends tragically. I eventually sent a letter to the author, to let him know how important this novel had been to me. Sadly, I received a letter back from his daughter, letting me know that he had died not long before.

What was the first historical novel you read?

In grade school, I became enchanted by a novel about a girl in pioneer times. I still can recall my awe over her having to walk for hours to a neighbor's house just to borrow a needle to sew with. If any of your readers can tell me the title of this novel, I would very much appreciate it!

What is the last historical novel you read?

I've most recently read Up from Freedom by Wayne Grady. It's an amazing novel about a family of former slaves trekking to safety in Canada, often by means of the Underground Railroad. It's a harrowing and important story, but not without sweetness. Wayne is an amazing researcher and writer.

What are three things people may not know about you?

I was once a card-carrying member of the Elevator Operators' Union. I taught Grade Two in an Inuit village in Nain, Labrador. I played clown at the Killaloe Craft & Community Fair.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I love the research involved in writing historical fiction, love the challenge and the puzzle of it. It drives me just a little crazy sensing that the answers are out there somewhere, if only I could find them.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

In the last few years I've taken up watercolor painting. I love its complexity, but also the meditative process of painting. Of late I've been painting raptors, in large part because my next YA is about a girl falconer in Elizabethan England.

Lastly, are there new projects in the works?

Yes! I have a rather long list of subjects I'm eager to delve into.

The Game of Hope by Sandra Gulland

Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Viking Books for Young Readers
Hardcover & eBook; 384 Pages

Genre: YA/Historical Fiction

For Napoleon's stepdaughter, nothing is simple -- especially love.

Paris, 1798. Hortense de Beauharnais is engrossed in her studies at a boarding school for aristocratic girls, most of whom suffered tragic losses during the tumultuous days of the French Revolution. She loves to play and compose music, read and paint, and daydream about Christophe, her brother's dashing fellow officer. But Hortense is not an ordinary girl. Her beautiful, charming mother Josephine has married Napoleon Bonaparte, soon to become the most powerful man in France, but viewed by Hortense as a coarse, unworthy successor to her elegant father, who was guillotined during the Terror.

Where will Hortense's future lie?

Inspired by Hortense's real-life autobiography with charming glimpses of teen life long ago, this is the story of a girl chosen by fate to play a role she didn't choose.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Chapters | IndieBound

Praise for The Game of Hope

"Gulland, who’s clearly done her research, includes plenty of documented moments and people from Hortense’s life, which cultivates a rich sense of atmosphere . . . Teen fans of historical fiction fascinated by the period will find plenty to appreciate here." — Booklist

"Gulland has built a career writing historical fiction for adults ... . Her pitch-perfect balance of lush period details and character-driven narrative shines again in The Game of Hope. — Quill & Quire

“[The Game of Hope] captures the essence of the period. It is not just a story about a girl; it is about the time; it is about the people whose lives she touched and about the changes spurned from the revolution. That is what makes it so grand and captivating.” — Cyn’s Workshop Review

“Sandra Gulland’s writing is enchanting and beautiful.” — Krimsuun Pages

About the Author

Sandra Gulland is an American-born Canadian novelist specializing in historical fiction. She is the author of the internationally bestselling trilogy of adult books based on the life of Josephine de Beauharnais Bonaparte, as well as two novels set at the court of Louis XIV, the Sun King. Her books have been published in sixteen countries, translated into thirteen languages, and sold more than a million copies worldwide.

Sandra Gulland's novels include The Josephine B. Trilogy, The Shadow Queen, Mistress of the Sun, and The Game of Hope.

Website | BlogFacebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 8
Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, October 9
Review at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, October 10
Feature at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Thursday, October 11
Excerpt at A Dream within a Dream

Friday, October 12
Review at Faery Tales Are Real

Monday, October 15
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective

Tuesday, October 16
Review at Creating Herstory

Wednesday, October 17
Review at Reading the Past

Thursday, October 18
Interview at Creating Herstory
Review at Tar Heel Reader

Friday, October 19
Review at The Lit Bitch
Feature at View from the Birdhouse

Saturday, October 20
Review at Introvert Booklover

Sunday, October 21
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Monday, October 22
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a copy of The Game of Hope to one lucky reader! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on October 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US Only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Game of Hope

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