Good Monday Morning, reader friends!
Today, we’re interviewing Piper Huguley about her book, A Most Precious Pearl.
Interview with Piper Huguley about A Most Precious Pearl:
Alexis: I love the opening line to the summary of your book, A Most Precious Pearl. You wrote, “They’re cut from different cloths…but their hearts are a perfect fit.” What inspired you to write this line and in what ways are your story’s hero and heroine the “perfect fit?”
Piper: I didn’t write that line. The publisher for the book wrote that. I think that whomever wrote that line thought about how Asa and Mags work in a textile mill and used their workplace to explain their relationship. It’s clever, but I cannot take credit for it.
Alexis: Let’s talk about the hero of your story, Asa Caldwell. Answer my questions below. Answer in italics.
What does he look like?
Asa looks like the actor Sterling K. Brown from “This is Us.”
What is his racial background?
He is a Black man.
What lights a fire in his soul?
Telling a story that brings injustice to light.
What or who makes him happy?
Besides Mags, exposing injustice.
Is he a man of faith?
Not at the beginning of the story. He has to come to that.
What is his greatest flaw?
He’s a bit spoiled having been fawned over by his many sisters and his mother. Mags puts an end to all of that.
Alexis: Why did you make Asa a journalist and what role does his life’s work and passion for the Journalism industry play in this story?
Piper: I based Asa on the founder of the Pittsburgh Courier, Robert L. Vann. I wanted to write a story where I showed the critical role that Black journalists played in the civil rights struggle that began in the first quarter of the twentieth century, not in the 1950’s as so many think.
Alexis: Asa lost his left leg in the Great War. How does he cope with his loss?
Piper: The book deals with an arc about how Asa has to come to this new reality about his legs. So when the reader first meets him, he’s not doing very well with it.
Alexis: In what was does having this new disability affect his daily living?
Piper: Asa’s biggest fear is about what he feels is his inadequacy to be a man who can protect his family. He has to deal with what that protection means and how that impacts his life before he can make a family with Mags.
Alexis: What is Asa’s relation to Ruby Blesdoe from your first book in this series, A Virtuous Ruby? Why is he on a mission to rescue her sister Mags from trouble?
Piper: Before he went to war, he had a bit of a crush on Ruby. She uses that information to get him to go rescue her sister. He no longer has a crush on her when she comes to see him, but still feels compelled to go. He has all of those sisters and he is used to saving women in a heroic fashion—it turns out that Mags is the one who saves him.
Alexis: Let’s talk about the heroine of your story, Mags Bledsoe. Answer my questions below. Answer in italics.
What does she look like?
Mags resembles a young Viola Davis.
What’s her racial background?
She is a Black woman.
What are her most favorite things?
Family, home, and hearth. She loves the domestic arts.
What upsets her?
People who upset the domestic happiness of her home.
What or who makes her happy?
She loves her sisters and parents and after a time, comes to love Asa.
Is she a woman of faith?
She is a woman of faith. She has to be in order to endure the trials that she has endured.
How did the lynching of her childhood sweetheart affect Mags?
It made her believe that she would never find love again.
How is she healing from that trauma?
She heals once she comes to realize what Travis was to her.
Or has she not healed?
Ultimately, she does.
Alexis: What do Mags and Asa like and dislike about each other upon first meeting?
Piper: Mags has a certain way of doing things that she does not like to be disrupted and Asa is pure disruption in many ways. Asa is amused at first, but then wants Mags to give him (and his ways) a chance.
Alexis: What role does faith in God play in this story and how does that help Mags and Asa’s journey through their fictional world?
Piper: Mags becomes a shining light for Asa to rediscover his faith and love comes about as a consequence of that. He does the same for her, in the wake of the lynching of her childhood sweetheart.
Alexis: You’ve addressed some topics like lynchings that are heart wrenching for real-life African Americans who live in the United States of America. What inspired you to include this dark part of American history in your story?
Piper: My work is not about covering up these so-called “dark” parts of history, but to shine a light on the heroic deeds of the ancestors to show what they had to endure so that we could be here.
Alexis: What impact do you hope that this true to American history story, A Most Precious Pearl, will make on your readers? Why?
Piper: I hope people come to understand that the ancestors were not victims of hatred, but were survivors who endured a great deal of painful trauma but kept hope present because they dared to have us and to try to make a better future for us. It’s important to honor their sacrifices by making some of our own. We tend to forget that in the relative comfort of the twenty-first century where a tragedy means not having enough charge on our phones.
Alexis: What was the most challenging – and the easiest part – of writing this story? Explain.
Piper: When this story was published the first time around, there was a great deal of disbelief in the history that I told. I believe that my stories reflect the old African saying of “Tales of hunting glorify the hunter.” We have been taught the hunter’s story in school to the point where we believe that is the complete story. I’m telling the story from the lion’s perspective. That was the challenge. The easiest part was in having Mags and Asa fall in love. They were a lot of fun to write.
Alexis: If you could spend a day at a picturesque location in the South with Mags, sipping on sweet tea where would that location be and what would your conversation be about?
Piper: Such a conversation would take place in her kitchen where she would tell me the secret of her biscuits. I struggle with them.
Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Piper! Do you have closing comments?
Piper: Only when we embrace multiple historical perspectives will we come closer to the truth of how we have gotten to this present. Thank you so much for having me!
*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor.
About the Book:
They’re cut from different cloths…but their hearts are a perfect fit.
Asa Caldwell returned from the Great War with nothing to show for it-as in nothing below his left knee. Forget about the journalism career he loved. His story is over. Done. Yet he finds the strength to journey to Winslow, Georgia, to get Ruby Bledsoe Morson’s sister out of trouble.
Before he can bring Mags Bledsoe home, though, a spate of mysterious attacks reawakens his investigative instincts. During the war, Mags did her duty to God and country by stepping into a management role at the textile mill.
Now she’s been shuffled back to the rank and file-and Asa has her hard-earned job. Not only is the infernal man doing everything wrong, her plan for revenge against the mill owner who lynched her childhood sweetheart is farther out of reach than ever.
As they clash over almost everything, Mags begins to set fire to Asa’s soul, bright enough to dim the memory of the killing fields of France. Enough to give him a new mission in life-to make her feel the same way.
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.