Good Monday Morning, reader friends!
Welcome Piper Huguley to our blog!
Today, she’s here to talk about her book, A Virtuous Ruby, that we spotlighted last week.
Interview with Piper Huguley about her book, A Virtuous Ruby:
Alexis: Thanks for agreeing to an interview, Piper! Tell us about your story A Virtuous Ruby. What inspired you to write it? What is it about?
Piper: I wrote Ruby because of promise that I made to my great-aunts that I would someday write a series about the greatest internal migration in the United States: the Great Migration that involved the movement of six million African Americans from the south to the north and west. My great-aunts and grandmother were a part of that migration and I wanted to pay tribute to them.
Ruby Bledsoe is a midwife in 1915 Winslow, Georgia who has had a baby under some questionable circumstances and is judged by the town for it. She meets a doctor who comes to Winslow to start a practice to treat the Black citizens there. He believes her practice is antiquated, she believes he is arrogant. They clash and of course, fall in love.
Alexis: Describe the setting for your story, A Virtuous Ruby. What makes it special?
Piper: Winslow is based on the real-life city of West Point, Georgia where my family originated from. Like West Point, Winslow has a textile mill. Winslow is run by a ruthless man who wants complete control of the town and all of the citizens, but then he comes up against Ruby.
Alexis: Briefly describe your “Migrations of the Heart” book series and share why you chose this story A Virtuous Ruby, to start it.
Piper: The “Migrations of the Heart” series is about a group of sisters in the town of Winslow, Georgia. Ruby is the oldest sister, so her story went first. The other stories in the series feature Mags, the next eldest in The Most Precious Pearl and Nettie, the middle sister in A Treasure of Gold.
Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s heroine, Ruby Bledsoe. What makes her mad? What make her happy? Describe her looks, personality and mindset.
Piper: Ruby is very fair-skinned, and is able to pass for white, but she chooses not to. She’s an activist in a time that Black women were usually not seeking to be “out there” in that way. She does it because she knows that her light skin privileges her to speak for her sisters who have darker skin, so she does. She doesn’t suffer fools.
Alexis: What ignited Ruby’s passion to speak out against injustice?
Piper: The lynching of her beloved uncle, Arlo. She always has in him in her mind when she thinks about the ways that her community is unjust to Black men.
Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s hero, Dr. Adam Morson. What are his greatest strengths and weaknesses? Describe his looks, personality and outlook.
Piper: Adam’s greatest strength is his desire to help people. He wants to connect. He is someone who is also light enough to pass for white, and he has. Before he arrived in Winslow, he found no shame in passing, but did it so that he could get his education and become a doctor. Now that he knows Ruby, he begins to understand that there can be disadvantages to passing for white too.
Alexis: What is it about Ruby that Adam loves and why does he feel drawn to take care of her and her child?
Piper: She loves that he is THERE. He is solid in a way that she’s not seen in a man, except for her father.
Alexis: What is it about Adam that makes Ruby want to trust him?
Piper: The way he cares about her son, even if he scolds her the first time he sees how thin the baby is.
Alexis: Share a few reasons why Adam believes that Georgia is a place of “toxic prejudice.” Is there a place he could go to be free of prejudice? Explain.
Piper: He could go to a place that is free of bigotry, but he has to be a white man—something that he is not. Georgia is a place of toxic prejudice because of the way Black people are dehumanized. Rape, chain gangs, Jim Crow rule, all make Georgia of 1915 a place of toxic prejudice.
Alexis: Why is Ruby torn between seeking her own happiness and staying to fight for the soul of her hometown?
Piper: She loves Winslow, or she loves what she thinks Winslow is. The story compels her to grow up and see what it the town really is and why she must leave to be happy.
Alexis: What were the easiest and most difficult parts of this story to write? Why?
Piper: I loved the scenes where Ruby was being rebellious. Adam’s parts were hard to write because I don’t write males as well and he was so insular, because of his upbringing. It was hard to get him to come out.
Alexis: Would you like to see more #ownstories written for the Christian book market and published by those CBA traditional publishers? Why or why not?
Piper: In order to survive much longer into the twenty-first century, the CBA will need to have more #ownstories publishers. It’s as simple as that.
Alexis: What would you say has been the most relentless roadblock in your journey as an author of color to write and publish stories about characters of color?
Piper: The realization that I had that the CBA would not want stories from me as a Black author. I had to accept that in order to get my message out about God’s love for all of us as human beings, I would have to indie publish and reach out to the ABA.
Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about A Virtuous Ruby?
Piper: That romantic love can occur for every one, no matter who they are or what they have been through.
Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Piper! Would you like to share closing comments?
Piper: The fifth anniversary reissue of A Virtuous Ruby will take place in May 2019. Thank you for having me!
*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor.
About the Book:
After fifteen months of hiding from the shame of bearing an illegitimate child, two words drive Ruby Bledsoe to face the good citizens of Winslow, Georgia. Never again. She vows to speak out against injustice. For her sisters. For her parents. For her infant son, Solomon. When she comes to help an injured mill worker, she bristles when a tall, handsome man claiming to be a doctor brushes her aside.
Despite his arrogance, Ruby senses he’s someone like her, whose light skin doesn’t quite hide who he is. Up north, Dr. Adam Morson easily kept his mixed race a secret. Now that he’s in Georgia, summoned by his white father, he can feel restrictions closing in around him.
Something powerful draws him to the beauty whose activist spirit is as fiery as her name. And soon, Adam wants nothing more than to take Ruby and her child far from Georgia’s toxic prejudice. But Ruby must choose between seeking her own happiness and staying to fight for the soul of her hometown.
Buy Piper’s book on Amazon
About the Author:
Piper G. Huguley is a two-time Golden Heart ®finalist and is the author of “Migrations of the Heart,” a three-book series of historical romances set in the early 20thcentury featuring African American characters. Book #1 in the series, A Virtuous Ruby, won Best Historical of 2015 in the Swirl Awards. Book #3 in the series, A Treasure of Gold, was named by Romance Novels in Color as a Best Book of 2015, received 4 ½ stars from RT Magazine, and won an Emma Award for best historical romance in 2017.
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. 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 and received Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest Contest of Self-Published e-books in 2015.
Her new series “Born to Win Men” starts with A Champion’s Heart as Book #1. A Champion’s Heart was named by Sarah MacLean of The Washington Post as a best romance novel selection for December 2016.
She blogs about the history behind her novels at http://piperhuguley.com. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son.