Piper Huguley is changing history as we know it.
There are genres and then there are subgenres. One of the things I love about speaking with writers across all types of books is learning about the complicated world their books inhabit. In this case, Piper Huguley writes historical black romance, and this sits inside the romance novel world, but in a completely new way.
I was so moved talking to Piper about how she focuses on an era that has been so glossed over, and tells stories that bring the people of the time to life, people who have been forgotten or ignored in our textbooks. The power of these stories is in our ability to expand what our picture of history looks like, and how many stories get included in our collective memory.
We also talk about how Piper researches and how she writes with historical backdrops without those elements crushing her characters or shutting down her creative process. You’re in for such a treat! Happy listening.
Discussed in Episode 77 with Piper Huguley
- On starting to write historical romance
- She grew up waiting for each new Beverly Jenkins novel.
- Then thought, what if someone else was writing books like these? Someone else like her?
- How to pick what historical time/moment to write about
- Drawn to Reconstruction Era because it was not being talked out in a way that resonated with her
- This was when many of the nation’s predominantly black colleges were founded
- Most recent novella The Lawyer’s Luck written as a response to an Amazon review.
- “I was always terrified of doing that.” (on writing a novella)
- Novella has proved useful as a “loss leader” to get people reading her work
- Balancing the history in a historical novel with the novel and how to honor both
- “There were people who lived through this particular time period.” (on putting imaginary characters into historical moments)
- Keeps her students in mind as she put personalities into the history. Actual people lived these events.
- She does historical research around her time period for specific aspects of the story
- Upcoming book is about women-of-color mail-order brides, who were passing as white
- Had to dig into both general history & legal history to get it right
- “I’d never had a white hero before.” (on writing her first interracial romance)
- Was told by Tina McElroy Ansa, “Thinking time is writing time.”
- Used to feel guilty about thinking time, but now uses it and writes first drafts relatively quickly
- The Alpha Smart – find one on Ebay
- “Fast Drafting” technique.
- “I do tend to more of a pantser.” (on fast first drafts)
- “The scene has to have a reason for happening.” (on not getting stuck)
- “Why is she dredging that up?” (on not shying away from history)
- Historical romance as edutainment
- “I love blowing up historical expectations.” (on combining history with fiction)
- “It’s not about leaving out, it’s about adding to.” (on broadening historical narratives)
- Romancelandia – the landscape of historical romance
- She’s inside a niche, inside a niche
- Most response has been positive but there are hierarchies and boundaries inside the genre
- “Now people are getting brave.” (on the expanding variety of voices writing historical romance)
- Currently working on a ‘super-secret project’, contemporary fiction – her NANO project