Spotlight and interview: Race to Tibet – I love France #136

And maybe you do too!
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Race to Tibet

Author Sophie Schiller

on Tour

March 23 – April 1, 2015


Race to TibetRace to Tibet

(historical fiction)

Release date: January 26, 2015
Self-published at Tradewins Publishing

336 pages

ISBN: 978-0-692-25409-7



An intrepid band of explorers headed by Gabriel Bonvalot, France’s greatest explorer, and his partner, Prince Henri d’Orléans, attempt to be the first living Europeans to reach Lhasa. Before they leave Paris, Bonvalot meets Camille Dancourt, the beautiful, strong-willed wife of a French surveyor who disappeared in Tibet, who desperately wishes to join the expedition. When the caravan sets out they face freezing temperatures, violent winds, mountain sickness, hostile Tibetans, duplicitous Chinese Mandarins, and a beguiling Tibetan Buddhist princess with a deadly secret. When the explorers reach Tibet, they discover a land of mystery and intrigue, a land of danger that promises them only one thing: death. On the verge of collapse, Bonvalot realizes they must resort to deadly force if they ever wish to escape Tibet alive. (provided by the author)



Race to Tibet - Sophie SchillerSophie Schiller was born in Paterson, NJ
and grew up in the West Indies.
Among other oddities
her family tree contains a Nobel prize-winning physicist
and a French pop singer.
She loves stories that carry the reader back in time to exotic
and far-flung locations.
She was educated at American University, Washington, DC
and lives in Brooklyn, NY.
She is currently at work on a new historical thriller set in the Caribbean.

Visit her website. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter

Buy the book: Amazon


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Race to Tibet banner


reading bug

What inspired you to write Race to Tibet?

Race to Tibet - Sophie SchillerI wanted to bring to life the amazing journey of Gabriel Bonvalot and Prince Henri d’Orléans, who teamed up to reach Lhasa on horseback. The explorers encountered many dangers along the way, including almost getting themselves killed on numerous occasions by wild yaks, freezing temperatures, altitude sickness, and hostile Tibetans. And although it’s never stated openly, the two ended up hating each other, with Bonvalot having to restrain himself on numerous occasions from killing the boorish, ill-mannered prince. I thought this was ripe ground for an exciting novel!

How long did it take to develop the story?

Developing the story took about 3 years. I spent the first 18 months researching the Great Game and Europe’s fascination with Tibet, then I read Gabriel Bonvalot’s travel books, both in the English and in the original French, plus I found an obscure version written by the Chinese-speaking, Belgian Catholic missionary who accompanied them, Father Constant de Deken, who is a fascinating character in his own right and looms large in the novel. I also spent a great deal of the time studying maps of the region, studying the geography, and locating important landmarks that figure in the story but don’t appear on any map. Some day I would love to visit those places!

Tell us more about Race to Tibet. What is it about? What genre is it?

Race to Tibet is an adventure thriller about a band of Victorian explorers who risked everything to be the first living Europeans to reach Lhasa. For hundreds of years Lhasa had been closed off to foreigners; the Tibetans practiced their own unique form of Buddhism that forbade any non-believers from trampling their holy city. As a result, Lhasa was the crown jewel in every explorer’s crown. Everyone (including ordinary housewives!) wanted to be the first to break through the impenetrable wall of the Himalayas and meet the Dalai Lama. The exploits of these explorers whetted the public’s fascination for exciting adventures to exotic and unknown worlds.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

The message of the novel is that Tibet is a unique and fascinating land with an ancient culture and way of life that should be preserved for future generations. Presently, Tibet’s culture and unique history is in danger of being wiped out by the Chinese.

How much of the book is realistic? 

A great portion of the book is realistic, about 80%. Only a few characters and situations were fictionalized for dramatic purposes.

What books have most influenced your life? 

Great adventure tales like “King Solomon’s Mines”, “The Lost World”, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, Mount Everest memoirs like “Into Thin Air” and “Left for Dead” as well as travel books like “Seven Years in Tibet.”

What are your current projects? 

I’m working on an adventure thriller that takes place in the Caribbean during the late Victorian era.


Who is your favorite explorer?
Any book you would recommend on him/her?


6 thoughts on “Spotlight and interview: Race to Tibet – I love France #136

  1. This books sounds fascinating! I don’t really have a favorite explorer because I can’t think that I’ve read too much about just one explorer. I did read a book called Blue Latitudes by Tony Horwitz about Captain Cook that was fascinating so I guess maybe him? Just realized I put KatherineP as the name I’d comment under instead of the one I’m actually using. Whoops!


  2. Pingback: France Book Tours stops for March 23-29 | France Book Tours

  3. Pingback: Sophie Schiller on Tour: Race to Tibet | France Book Tours

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