Q &A with Sandra Gulland–and a Giveaway!

As part of her blog tour to celebrate the paperback release of Mistress of the Sun, the story of Louise de la Vallière, I’d like to welcome Sandra Gulland to my corner of the blogsphere! I read Sandra’s Josephine Bonaparte trilogy when I was just beginning to write historical fiction. Not only did I learn quite a bit about Josephine from it, I also learned a great deal about the craft of writing. So I’m particularly pleased she’s stopping by here.

SH: What drew you to the character of Louise in particular? In general, are there qualities that tend to draw you to a historical character?

SG: What initially drew me to Louise was her extraordinary horsemanship. She could stand a cantering horse. She could out-ride and out-hunt the Sun King, who was himself an amazing athlete. I wondered how this came about. Certainly, it wasn’t typical of women in the 17th century (much less today). Clearly, she had spent a lot of time with the guys in the stables and out in the fields.

I have to care deeply about my main character, so the most important quality, for me, has to do with having a sympathetic nature. The other essential is that there be something unexplained, something that provokes my curiosity. With Josephine, it was the fact that her remarkable future had been foretold. For Louise de la Vallière, it was her horsemanship.

SH: I’ve seen several different covers for Mistress of the Sun. Do you have a favorite? Why?

SG: I’m crazy in love with the cover of the Canadian hardcover edition, the one with the big eyes. I think it captures Petite’s innocent, yet almost hypnotic and somewhat mystical allure. Poetically, I think it gets to the heart of what the novel is about. Plus, it’s so gorgeous, simply lush. It communicates that the novel is historical, without confining it only to readers of historical fiction. It has a literary appeal, as well as romantic: a great combination, in my mind. I don’t think I will ever love a cover as much as I love this one.

SH: Is there a character you’d like to write about, but don’t think you ever will? Why?

SG: I’m tempted by Joan of Arc — but she’s so intimidating. Plus, there would have to be a question about her I wanted to solve.

I’m also, curiously, tempted by Saint Vincent de Paul. Now that would be a challenge! I’ve read biographies about him, but the one story that intrigues me is that he was, apparently, very popular as a confessor to the society ladies because he would forgive every sin. Imagine the story possibilities that might open up!

SH: Other than historical fiction, is there a genre you enjoy reading in particular? As a reader, do you have any “guilty pleasures”?

SG: I like literary fiction, especially literary historical fiction. In the historical vein, I’ve found it difficult, lately, to read works set close to the period I’m working in. Some recent works I’ve read and admired (Blonde, by Oates, for example) were set in the last century.

I did read a “guilty pleasure” book recently: Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer. (Hasn’t everyone read this book?) I thought it well done, but I was quite happy to return to my non-vampire world.


Thanks for the interview, Sandra! Now, here’s your chance to win a paperback copy of Mistress of the Sun. Just leave a comment here by midnight May 25 (US EST) telling me which of Sandra’s covers below is your favorite. (The winner will get the book with the second cover–the US paperback.)

Me? My favorite’s the first one. I’d love to wear a dress like that, and my cats would love to shed on it.

12 thoughts on “Q &A with Sandra Gulland–and a Giveaway!”

  1. I loved reading this interview, it was great! I also really like the first cover, it conveys a soft richness that calls out to me…

    Thanks for the interview and the great giveaway!

  2. Alaine - Queen of Happy Endings

    My favourite is the first one as well. It’s just so pretty!

  3. I love the interview – and I wish that Sandra would write about Joan d’Arc. She’s such a mystery, there are so many layers separating us from the woman – Please write it, Sandra!

    I like the American cover, and I would love to win the American book …

    teabird 17 AT yahoo dot com

  4. Nan Hawthorne

    I will have to say I like the second cover.. it is more colorful. I have not read any of these but now that I have my talking Kindle, I hope I will get the chance! Good job, both you S’s!

    Nan Hawthorne

    PS For all you fun lovers, check out http://aninvoluntaryking.blogspot.com – it’ll take you back to when you were 14!

  5. Thank you for such a great interview.

    *shuffles feet and rubs back of neck in embarassment* I haven’t read Twilight, but have to admit that scifi and mystery are my two favorite genres.

    As for the cover–my favorite is the third–the eyes and the otherworldly face–it’s compelling. I would gravitate to that book first if I saw the three displayed together.

  6. ♔ jessica.marie

    Don’t enter me, since I am also in the process of a giveaway of this book.

    I love the U.S. cover, it’s just so royal and fits the book perfectly. The first cover makes me think it would be more of a YA book and the third cover doesn’t really let the reader know anything about the book before reading it. ^_^

  7. I love the second cover. It has a very historical fiction feel to it and I love historical fiction! What a great interview. I would love to win this book.

    tmrtini at gmail dot com

  8. Personally, I like the first and second cover better than the third. I guess I am a traditionalist when it comes to book covers – either art or something historical on the cover.

    Thanks for the great interview and give away!


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