Why I Write Historical Fiction -- Piper Huguley
I often hear someone say, “History is boring.”
One word crosses my mind. Well!
Really, the person might as well have said to me. “I challenge you to a duel.”
It’s as if we are in a Hamilton scenario and I’m Aaron Burr. You’re going down with that foolishness.
Wait for it.
Ok, I’m done with the Hamilton references for now, but I make them because the Broadway hit has brought the message home loud and clear: history is not at all boring. I have come to understand that it is the work of my life to make readers see people in history, not just facts and dates. I chose to do this through my fiction, through historical romance. By showing how people in the past still managed to love one another in difficult times, it’s my intention to use my fiction to enhance human connection across time. After all, if historical people hadn’t loved one another in the past, we wouldn’t be here now.
The esteemed Beverly Jenkins calls it “edutainment.” What I hope to do with my brand of edutainment is to gather all of those lost lambs who were taught history in the wrong way and to make it come alive again. Because when people say history is boring, I believe the way they were educated is a large part of this pervasive problem. I hope that my novels do the job of allowing readers to see how people lived their lives, not of despair as we have been taught, but of pride and dignity.
Pride and dignity play a large role in what I have chosen to do in telling the African American story in historical romance fiction. The narrative of victimization has been so ingrained in us that it’s hard to believe in anything else. I write in the spaces of the “anything else.” There are many, many historical stories that have been long buried in favor of a narrative of African Americans as victims.
Part of what I do is to show how the Christian faith of the ancestors, in the way that they practiced Christianity, sustained them through the difficult times and gave them dignity. It’s been a hard push. I’ve seen pain in readers’ eyes. Some turn away when they see what is so clearly depicted on my book covers and the reluctance to dislodge prior knowledge is clear. However, I firmly believe in the power of the mind and in thinking people.
The realization will happen once the word spreads. The last song of Hamilton is “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who tells your story.” What we understand now is that who tells your story matters a great deal in what (his)story gets told.
I’m telling some stories that haven’t been told yet. This is the history that must “Rise Up!”
Author Bio: Piper G Huguley, named 2015 Debut Author of the Year by Romance Slam Jam and Breakout Author of the Year by AAMBC, is a two-time Golden Heart ®finalist and is the author of
Huguley is also the author of the “Home to Milford College” series. The series follows the building of a college from its founding in 1866. On release, the prequel novella to the “Home to Milford College” series, The Lawyer’s Luck, reached #1 Amazon Bestseller status on the African American Christian Fiction charts. Book #1 in the series, The Preacher’s Promise was named a top ten Historical Romance in Publisher’s Weekly by the esteemed historical romance author, Beverly Jenkins.
She blogs about the history behind her novels at http://piperhuguley.com. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son.