"Embracing Romance & History'
ABOUT PIPER HUGULEY
First, let me congratulate you on your second Golden Heart nomination. Please tell our readers about the Golden Heart Awards and your nominations in 2013 and 2014.
Thank you, Wayne. I was nominated last year for the forth book in my “Migration of the Heart” series-A Champion’s Heart. It’s a story that takes place in 1935 about an African American boxer who stood up his sweetheart on the night they were to elope. Seven years later he’s going blind because of his fighting but wants to see her one more time. When he sees the economic difficulty she and her adopted children are in, he’s determined to fight once more to help her be more secure.
This year, I was nominated for the first book in the “Migrations of the Heart” series-A Virtuous Ruby. It’s about a young midwife in 1915 who protests the conditions of the mill in her small Georgia town. The owner of the mill arranged for her to be raped because of her “causing trouble.” She has made the decision to continue on her crusade in the name of her lynched uncle. The owner arranges for his mixed-race son, who just became a doctor, to destroy her practice and they fall in love.
The Golden Heart nominations got my name out there and let some people know about my unusual niche that I’m developing. I never expected to win though. Some folks talk about Golden Heart nominations and their eclectic nature, but with an eclectic time period and characters-no, not win. It was good to be nominated twice, though.
What made you want to become a writer?
I always had the belief that I had a story to tell. It took me a long time to figure out what story I should tell though.
Why inspirational historical romance?
Market research has been an on-going interest of mine. In the past few years, I came to see that there were few historical portrayals of African Americans as Christians. I couldn’t believe it. Was it a market that was overlooked, or weren’t people weren’t writing to it? I waited, for years, to see who would notice this market niche. One day, I realized that all of my life experiences were ideal to allow me to be the one to write the stories. So I decided to jump in and to put those portrayals out there.
What has been the most difficult thing about being a published author who writes African-American Historical Romance?
So far, the most difficult thing has been the idea that is floating around that I have not done historical research on my stories. Going into this writing project, I didn’t understand how many people are firmly entrenched into the history that they learned in school. Very often, these people are not aware of the new scholarship that exists. No matter the race, people have been taught one way and have commented that my stories must represent some kind of “alternative history” that didn’t happen. My purpose in writing is to show the exceptional things that did happen, but have not been widely discussed or known. It’s going to be a hard road in talking through these unknown periods of history, but God has equipped me for the task.
Describe a typical writing day for Piper.
I usually write for a few hours in the evenings. The days that I teach, I’m just about worn out and I don’t want to do it, but some days I just have to push through. The stories must be told.
ABOUT THE BOOKS
You have recently self-published your first two releases. Tell us a bit about your journey to publication and what made you choose that route.
So in submitting to critique groups, editors, agents, and the like, I was always told that either-the market is too small, or these historical events could not have happened. I couldn’t do anything about the latter, but show things on my blog about how I’ve used certain events in history to weave together my stories. The market was something I could work on. So, with the help of a bequest from my mother, I invested the money to put out the first two books in the “Home to Milford College” series to show that there are people who would read historical African Americans and their struggles. People often comment about how the times make them “angry,” but how will we learn how to deal with our present day struggle if we can’t celebrate the achievements of those in the past who had it a lot worse? Or with the current Ferguson struggle, some may think it’s the same struggle? Where are the role models in our reading who show the way? The stories had to get out there.
Tell us a bit about The Home to Milford series, and the first two releases, THE LAWYER’S LUCK and THE PREACHER’S PROMISE.
The Home to Milford College series will be the story of the development of a small HBCU over time to the present day. The series starts at the founding of the college in 1866 with the THE PREACHER’S PROMISE. THE LAWYER’S LUCK is a prequel novella to illustrate the role of Oberlin College in the founding of several HBCU schools. There are so many stories about how Historically Black College and Universities have been founded, and how people dared to risk everything to uplift education for future generations. So many people know nothing about that history. It’s time to make people more curious about those sacrifices.
I’m sure you have received numerous compliments on your gorgeous cover art. We’d love to hear about the artist/designer.
Yes. I ran a contest on designcrowd.com. JShan’s design for THE PREACHER’S PROMISE came in just under the deadline and grabbed me by the throat. It’s so unlike the cover of a conventional historical romance novel, but on the other hand, it portrays the characters with dignity and respect. He lives in Sri Lanka, but took my blurb (I gave him no descriptions of how the characters looked), and brought Virgil and Amanda to life.
I will say that not everyone loves the covers. I think there’s a kind of pressure in their stares that make some people feel uncomfortable. That wasn’t my intention, but it surprises me to hear it.
What do you enjoy most about being a published author?
I love hearing from the fans. Well, I guess I like hearing from the fans who enjoyed it, that is! I haven’t heard from too many people who don’t, but I suppose that is coming down the pike. It’s all new and unusual and it may take time for people to find their voices about it.
ABOUT THE FANS
What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Be still. Stillness allowed me to be clear about the choices I made and why. For instance, people may not like that there are no sex scenes in the stories, but there are some people who are not always willing to read those parts of a romance novel. Don’t they deserve stories too? I wouldn’t have come to understand that if I had not been still.
Tell us a bit about the process you use when you write a novel.
The history comes first. Then I develop a possible scenario in that history. THE PREACHER’S PROMISE came from the many northern teachers, black and white, who gave up their lives to come south in the after math of the Civil War to teach the enslaved people how to read and write. It was a movement to increase literacy and yet, people don’t often see it that way. There was conflict and resistance to their presence-how could there not be? And yes, some of those people fell in love. Now there’s a story.
What’s next for Piper Huguley?
I’m working on the next book in the series-THE MAYOR’S MISSION. I’m revising some of my Golden Heart stories for publication as well. We’ll see where those stories end up.
If there was one thing you could tell your readers what would it be? Please--spread the word about a history that showed extraordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Do you have any upcoming events/conferences you want to share with readers?
I am signing at the Decatur Book Festival on August 30 and 31. I am part of a panel about diverse books on August 30. I hope to sign at the Moonlight and Magnolias Conference in Atlanta on October 11. Other than that, I’m available to give talks about this new view on history and to sign books as well!
How can readers reach you?
Facebook Author page: Piper Huguley:
Fan Page: Home to Milford College:
Discussion and spoiler page: The Secrets of Milford College:
Thank you, Wayne!
Who Do You Think You Are?
Gone With the Wind