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Thursday, June 8, 2017
The sisterhood of Songbird
Authors Iris Bolling, Piper Huguley, and Deborah Mello are powerhouse writers by themselves, but when they put their magic together, readers are treated to the phenomenon known as Songbird.
Sparrow’s Song Piper Huguley
In the hot summer of ‘68, recent graduate Sparrow Jones takes a job running the summer program at her family’s church hoping to save enough money to attend music school. Despite her mother’s objections, music is Sparrow’s ministry. Yet, as she throws herself into her work, she finds a different calling in little Carole and her stern father. Widower Master Sargent John Charles drops his little girl off at the church everyday, trusting them to take care his daughter while he works and maybe help her to regain her speech. When the feisty program director begins questioning his parenting skills, it takes all of his military disciplines to keep his temper and manners in check. Yet, the thought of her and the care she shows for his child makes the heart he thought he’d buried beat again. With the summer coming to an end, will Sparrow be able to fly away to her dreams of a music career or has her heart become entangled with a helpless little girl and her military father?
Lark St. Clair Deborah Mello
Devastated by the death of her mother, Lark St. Clair must mend more than a broken heart. At odds with her own child, Lark is determined to honor the matriarch’s memory by repairing the rift between herself and her daughter, Dove. Revisiting history, the two embark on an emotional journey as Lark shares the story of finding herself through her music and discovering the love of her life with choir director, Martin Warren when love seemed elusive to her.
Life should be a song worth singing. That’s what Dove Warren’s grandmother always instilled in her. With a voice to make grown men fall to their knees and the beauty to match, Dove has had her fill with singing. Until her grandmother shares a dream giving Dove the motivation to used her gift of music to spread the love.
Anthony Perry, a strong, caring man who lost his brothers to violence, vowed to give his mother at least one child who turned his back on the street life. As District Attorney of the City of Richmond, it never occurred to him that an angel falling into his arms could fill the empty recesses of his life.
Will Dove lose the man whose very presence fills her heart with song or will she have the chance to bring a dream of three generations to fruition?
Recently, I caught up with the dynamic trio and got the behind the scenes scoop on the birth of Songbird.
1. How did you ladies come up with this idea?
Iris: Hi Cheris. Thank you for inviting us to chat with you. The storyline came to me while listening to Regina Belle and JT Taylor singing all I Want is Forever. Regina’s voice is so rich I though it could only be inherited from previous generations. That’s when the idea of doing a generational story about a family of singers came to me. The idea of doing an historical that leads into a contemporary and a suspenseful end seemed interesting. I asked my Acquisition Manager, LaSheera Lee, to reach out to Piper Huguley to do the historical. Never thought she would do it, then freaked out when she said yes. For the second story, we wanted to make sure we had a sauciness in there and who better than Deborah Mello to bring what I call sassy-saucy to the story. She agreed. From that point we all went to our individual microphones and belted out a great story of mother-daughter love for each other and music.
Piper: This is the first time I've heard of where Songbird came from. Brilliant!! And I was thrilled to be asked--trust and believe!
Deborah: Iris Bolling was the braintrust behind Songbird. She presented the idea, invited me to participate and the rest, as they say, is history!
2. Will there be more stories like this coming from you ladies?
Iris: It was wonderful working with Deborah and Piper. The outcome in the way the voices of each story blended was magical. I would like to.
Piper: Iris is the boss!
Deborah: I certainly hope so! This was a brilliant project and to be able to work with Iris and Piper was truly inspiring. I would do this again in a heartbeat!
3. This book is a hit with readers, how does that make you feel when "major" publishers are stepping away from black romance?
Iris: Romance in any color is what binds us together. Love is magical. That’s why romance is so popular. Black romance cannot be ignored, or held back. Stories of love is going to surface whether it’s through large publishing house or not. To me, it gives us, authors of color, an opportunity to tell our stores, our way. No watered down version of what REAL BLACK LOVE is and can be, but the real deal on love in colors.
Piper: "Major" publishers who are opting to step away from Black romance are short term people and are not visionaries. I do not have the time or patience to deal with those who are thinking in the short-term.
Deborah: For me, it just reaffirms what we have always known. There is a definite need for multicultural stories that reflect our experiences in a positive way. It's disheartening that "major" publishers refuse to put promotional dollars behind those stories, then claim they don't sell and are so easily able to walk away from our books alleging the numbers aren't there when indie authors continually prove them wrong.
4. What is on the horizon for you ladies next?
Iris: As for books I have a new series The Dunning Family being released. The first book “Invested” will be released on June 27th, 2017. The Book of Timothy: Mirrors, which is a Lassiter book will be released in September and of course , a Christmas story in December. In January 2018 my detective series Reign On Crime will be released. As for film projects, we working on developing Beverly Jenkins’, Deadly Sexy, Brenda Jackson’s Unfinished Business and possibly Redemption by Jacqueline Thomas.
Piper: I'm working on a contemporary women's fiction novel. I will also release a historical western at Christmas time in collaboration with other western historical authors.
Deborah: Next up for me is the release of my next Stallion book, SWEET STALLION onSeptember 1st. This is Naomi Stallion's story and I'm very excited about it.
Then next year I will introduce a new series with Harlequin's Suspense line which introduces a Chicago police family dedicated to law enforcement. The family is headed by patriarch Jerome Black, the superintendent of police and his wife, federal court judge Judith Harmon-Black. The stories will follow sons Armstrong, Ellington, Parker, Davis and Mingus and daughters Simone and Vaughan, all seasoned veterans in the Chicago judicial system.