Guest Post by Sandra Gulland, author of The Game of Hope

Hello, dear readers! Today on the blog I am hosting the lovely Sandra Gulland, author of The Game of Hope! She is here to talk about midquels!

The Delights and Challenges of Writing a Midquel Sandra Gulland

First off: what is a midquel? I’ve published two, and I’ve only now discovered the word for it. Unlike a sequel or prequel, a midquel is a novel that’s written during the same time period and in the same world as a previously published novel.

     My novel The Shadow Queen, the second of my Sun Court novels, is set in the same time period and includes many of the same characters as my first Sun Court novel, Mistress of the Sun. It explores that world from another perspective entirely.

    Likewise, The Game of Hope, my Young Adult novel about Josephine Bonaparte’s daughter and Napoleon’s stepdaughter Hortense de Beauharnais, is largely set during the timeframe of Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe, the middle novel of the Josephine B. Trilogy. It also reveals that world from an entirely different perspective.

Some advantages and disadvantages of writing a midquel

The practical advantages of writing a prequel, sequel or midquel is that much of the research that has already been done. A world has already been created, characters already crafted. That's a big leg up.

However, there can also be some challenges in writing a midquel — at least, I found it to be so in writing The Game of Hope.

My process

My writing process is to begin with a detailed timeline. I already had one for the Trilogy, and it was 463 pages long, single-spaced. This was a great asset!

     I took this massive timeline as the foundation for making a timeline about Hortense and her world, cutting all that was not relevant to her life. Then I added in details. For example:

     the dates and contents of all the letters Madame Campan, the headmistress of her boarding school, sent to her;
     the dates of events relevant to her boarding school;
     details about Christophe Duroc (a romantic interest);
     details about her closest friends;
     details about the comings and goings of her stepsister (technically her step aunt), Napoleon’s youngest sister Caroline.

So far, so good, right?

Not exactly.

     I needed to add to that timeline the scenes Hortense had been part of in the Trilogy — the fictional scenes I had written. I reread the relevant scenes and typed them into the timeline, formatting them in italic to indicate that these were fiction, not fact.

     This is where things got a little tricky. I had to treat the fictional pre-existing scenes as fact. After all, I was recreating a previously created world. It was all of a piece. I confess it felt a little strange to closely rewrite a scene from the Trilogy. Although it was narrated from Hortense’s perspective, Josephine was saying the same things she had said in the Trilogy. I felt I was plagiarizing my own work!

The problem of evolving scholarship

Another problem was that the last of the Trilogy was published in 2000, over fifteen years before. There was considerably more historical information now available, both on the Net and in new publications. Had I had that information in the decades before 2000, I would have written some of the scenes in the Trilogy a little differently. In writing The Game of Hope, I sometimes had to fudge just a bit in order to be historically accurate and yet true to the existing world of the Trilogy.

The rewards of writing a midquel

Challenging problems aside, it was a pleasure to reconnect with the characters of the Trilogy once again, and extremely interesting (and surprising!) to view that world through the eyes of a teenager. Most of all, it was delightful to fully explore characters who had previously been on the sidelines. The amazing Madame Campan! The impetuous and reckless Caroline Bonaparte!

     What a world!

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.

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