By Piper Huguley
When I began writing Christian historical romances, I assumed that I would be welcomed with open arms into what I call, “Inspyland.” After all, I could never understand why these stories of the ancestors, many who had shown extraordinary, Christ-like compassion during difficult circumstances, did not exist. The only difference with my stories and others is that my historical people had brown skin.
The embrace didn’t come.
I received interesting comments on contest entries for A Virtuous Ruby, saying things like, “clearly this writer is new” or “This character should be grateful for her light skin that allows her to pass—clearly a gift from God.” And no matter what I did, I never got anywhere in Inspy fiction writing contests—never placed, never finaled. I always did better in other contests when I called my work historical. My story about a woman who, is more virtuous than the town because of her insistence in fighting for the workers of the nearby mill, kept alienating Inspyland. No embrace.
Blessedly, I’ve found other people who were willing to give Ruby a chance. So when it came time to chose between two publishers to publish the story, I chose the “other” one. The one that published the secular, sexy books. The one that published books about interracial couples. The one that published books about homosexual couples. The “other” one. My choice means that I’ve pretty much have had to give up the notion any Inspyland supporters would be few and far between—at least not openly.
Well, that’s all right. Because something else happened.
While the ARCs for A Virtuous Ruby are in circulation, I’ve had people telling me they’ve never read a Christian novel before. That mine was the first one. And that they’ve wanted to read my others. Or other Christian novels by BCR authors. Or other historicals. Or other novels featuring African Americans or people of color.
I have come to understand that bringing new people to these books might be what God has wanted me to do all along. My purpose in writing these previously ignored stories has always been about letting people bear witness to the sacrifices of the ancestors who lived the truest Christian lives. So I hope and pray that my purpose is fully in line with His.