Sophie Schiller was born in Paterson, NJ and grew up in the West Indies amid aging pirates and retired German spies. 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, New York. She is currently working on a new historical thriller set in the Caribbean.
While Sophie was writing Race to Tibet, she had set the first scene of the novel—an altercation between Gabriel Bonvalot and General Prejevalsky that may or may not be real—in Café Tortoni, a well-known café on the Rue des Italiens in Paris. But until today she had never known about the existence of this painting, even though she had been to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston numerous times, although not prior to March 18, 1990, the day it was stolen.
To me, Cafe Tortoni, with its sophisticated ambiance and suave reputation, known for being the meeting place of politicians, intellectuals, scholars, dandies, and ladies of the demi-monde seemed to be the perfect setting to place two opposing characters, and how much more so now that I can see it through Manet's eyes.
According to Sophie, "All I can say is, Wow! and pray that someday Chez Tortoni is restored to its rightful place in the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, one of Boston's great cultural treasures. I spent close to 2 years researching the book before I ever put pen to paper. I feel I learned so much about the geography, the history, the culture, and the Great Game that I could teach a course on it! I still hope that one day I can visit Tibet."
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