Friday, October 28, 2022

7 Questions With Piper Huguley, Historical Fiction Author

Piper Huguley seeks to make new inroads in the publication of historical romance by featuring African American Christian characters.  The Lawyer’s Luck and The Preacher’s Promise, the first books in her “Home to Milford College” series, are Amazon best sellers.  The Mayor’s Mission, published in Winter 2014.  The next entry in the series, The Representative’s Revolt was published in Spring 2015. She is a 2013 Golden Heart finalist for her novel, A Champion’s Heart—the fourth book in “Migrations of the Heart”. The first book in the series, A Virtuous Ruby, was the first-place winner in The Golden Rose Contest in 2013 and was a Golden Heart finalist in 2014. The first three books in the “Migrations of the Heart” series, which follows the loves and lives of African American sisters during America’s greatest internal migration in the first part of the twentieth century, was published by Samhain Publishing in 2015.  She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son. Her latest book is By Her Own Design.

1. How and when did you get hooked on history?

When I was young. I also read the Little House series and dressed up as a different historical figure every Halloween. I was also Laura Ingalls Wilder one time with a sunbonnet perched upon my afro! 

2. What role does history play or has it played in your personal life?

I made my husband tour historical places for our honeymoon. 

3. How does history play a part of your professional life/career?

As a professor, I've personally witnessed the great decline in the historical knowledge of students over the past 30 years. I'm changing careers from being a literary professor to an author of historical fiction in order to find new and dynamic ways of imparting history to the general population of adults. 

4. Why is studying/knowing history important?

Knowing the full historical truth of a wide variety of people in the United States, will help us to come to a more complete understanding of how the American experiment benefits everyone all over the world. When we only know part of our history, we are cheated of understanding the great sacrifices many others have made to help the United States become a great country. 

5. What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?

 In the United States from  Civil War to Civil Rights.  Too many people want to skip over the complexities of this period. We need to slow down and appreciate all of it. 

6. What inspired you to write historical fiction?

When I realized there were only a handful of historical fiction stories about Black women written by Black women, I knew I had to help more people understand the unheralded contributions Black women in the United States have made to this country. Historical fiction helps light the spark of interest so that more scholars of history will do the difficult work of documenting the lives of marginalized women who would not have left primary source materials behind. 

7. In your opinion, what are the hallmarks of well-written historical fiction?

Relatable characters, a clear narrative, period appropriate language and a complete author's note at the end of the book to explain how historical research was used to write the story. 


Friday, October 21, 2022

7 Questions with Curt Radabaugh, AKA George Washington


Curt Radabaugh is a retired law enforcement officer, and his lifelong love has been history, American History in particular.  He's had a bucket list desire for many years to portray George Washington; and after many years, he's making it a reality.  His website is currently under construction, but he can be reached through Facebook .  He lives in Central Ohio, and is open to appearances and events anywhere east of the Mississippi. 

1. How did you get hooked on history?

I’ve been hooked on history, since elementary school, it has always been my favorite subject.

2. How does history play a role in your personal life?

In my personal life, my wife and I both love visiting old homes, battlefields, libraries, etc that have played prominent roles in our awesome American History.

3. How does/did history play a role in your professional life?

In my professional life I try to abide by the honor and integrity that our Founding Fathers had when they sacrificed all to bring forth our country.

4. Why is it important to know/study history?

Why study history?  To know where we came from, what we’ve gone through, the struggles, the rights, the wrongs…using the past as a guide for the future!

5. What is your favorite subject or period of history to learn about?

My favorite history subject is unquestionably our Founding Fathers era, the Revolutionary War, etc…and favorite particular subject is George Washington.

6. How did you become a George Washington interpreter/reenactor?

Ever since being a small child, I’ve been an ardent admirer of our Greatest President, George Washington.  The struggles, the adversity, the commitment to duty and honor.  His strength and commitment is why we’re here.
There is so much George Washington history…his entire life is full of things that impacted America.  From his surveying, to being an ambitious 21 year old major and his actions leading to the French and Indian War, his being a farmer, the Commander of our forces in the American Revolution, the Constitution and Presidency.  His life impacted us immensely!

7. As you begin your reenactor journey, what are you doing to become George Washington?

 I study his life and particular subjects when portraying.  Even when dressed, special care is necessary with making sure my attire matches and is historically accurate.

I’ve just started off on my path portraying George Washington…I’ve much learning and work to be

Friday, October 14, 2022

7 Questions with Sam Kean, Bestselling Author and Podcaster on Science and History


Sam Kean spent years collecting mercury from broken thermometers as a kid, and now he’s a writer in Washington, D.C. His stories have appeared in The Best American Science and Nature WritingThe New Yorker, The AtlanticSlate, and Psychology Today, among other places, and his work has been featured on NPR’s “Radiolab”, “Science Friday”, and “All Things Considered,” among other shows. The Bastard Brigade was a “Science Friday” book of the year, while Caesar’s Last Breath was the Guardian science book of the year. The Disappearing Spoon was a runner-up for the Royal Society book of the year. Both The Violinist’s Thumb and The Dueling Neurosurgeons were nominated for PEN’s literary science writing award. He also hosts the podcast "The Disappearing Spoon." where he tells stories of science and history. Website 

1.      How and when did you get  hooked on history?

I've always liked history, but was set on being a scientist for a long time. Then I started working in real science labs, and realized it wasn't for me. (I was clumsy, and hated the specialization.) But I
thought back on what I liked about science, and realized that I enjoyed learning about the people involved - those who discovered things, those who missed out, the heroes and the villains. I liked the
stories. So learning about the history of science was a natural way to get into those stories.

2.      What role does history play or has it played in your personal life?

I think it gives me a broader perspective on the world and current events. I also enjoy seeing the cyclical nature of history - how themes and ideas repeat themselves over time. Science is a cumulative
field that builds on previous advances, but it's beholden to history

3.      How does history play  a part of your professional life/career?

It's what I write about! I enjoy covering new scientific discoveries sometimes, but I feel like you don't understand what's happening unless you really get into the history.

4.      Why is studying/knowing history important?

Again, it gives your perspective. It's so easy to get wrapped up in daily events, whiplashing back and forth. Learning history teaches you to focus on what matters.

5.      What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?

Anything science-related, I'm game to learn about. And I interpret that broadly. My new book is about experimental archaeology, and I like how the field uses science to open up whole new windows into the past.

6.       Your books and podcasts focus on the science in history or the history of science. Where did you first start to put them together?

Ha, when I realized that I was cut out to work in labs! This happened back in college, and I really wanted to keep learning about science and be involved in the field ... just not be in the lab all the time. Writing about science and science history allowed me to do that.

7.      Your most recent book is The Icepick Surgeon. After researching and writing the book, what impressions or newfound knowledge and understanding are you left with?

This was a tough book to write, but an important one for me. It takes a hard look at science and some of the awful things that have happened in the name of science. I always have and always will love science, but I don't think we can bury our heads and pretend like bad things didn't happen. But I promise my next book will be more fun. :)

Friday, October 7, 2022

7 Questions with Laura Macaluso, Public Historian


Laura A. Macaluso researches and writes about monuments, museums, murals, and material culture. She has a PhD in the Humanities with a focus on Cultural & Historic Preservation. She works in development for the York County History Center in York, PA and tweets @monumentculture. You can find more of her work at

1.How and when did you get hooked on history?

Well, I'm an outlier here because my discipline is Art History, which I studied as an undergraduate and graduate student. But, I came to appreciate both sides of the name: that is, the art side and the history side. Much later, when I studied monuments (which are often equal parts art and history), I realized that public art and public history share a lot of the same ideas and practices, and now I try to keep doing a little bit of both. 

But, I want to pay homage to an early teacher here. Her name was Miss Shinko, and she taught at my Catholic school for only one year. But I know, from a blurry square photograph, that she took us to see the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Truthfully, I don't remember the trip, but the Temple of Dendur remains a favorite--especially now that the Met projects colored light on the stone surface, so that visitors can get a sense of how colorful the hieroglyphics would have been in the Ancient World. That is a big change from when I was a young student: museums now recognize that ancient statues, monuments, and buildings were full of color, not the bright white marble of Classical Greek statues or the bland sandstone of Egyptian temples. 

And, in terms of American history, well, let's just balance out visits to the Met with the real deal: made-for-TV miniseries such as George Washington with Barry Bostwick, North & South with Patrick Swayze, and later, Ken Burns's The Civil War, which was like religion for my history-loving husband, all played a part. As did trips with my parents to local historical sites in Connecticut like Mystic Seaport, Gillette's Castle, and Dinosaur State Park. 

2. How role does history play or has it played in your personal life?

The practice of history drives me (to distraction it feels sometimes!); because it feels so deeply embedded in the way I think and perform basic functions like reading and writing and conceptualizing everything around me. I see the good in this, but I also see the limitations. That comes with age. The practice of history has opened doors, so that I have been able to travel and be with people I never would have met in places like South Africa, New Zealand, England, and Italy. But, at the same time, I also know that history can also be narrow in the people it includes in its practice, so, sometimes it is a frustrating endeavour. I see glimpses of the world and want to apply a historian's lens to it all, but there isn't enough time, ever. 

3. How does history play a part in your professional life/career?

Yes, history does play a part in my "regular" job in a history museum, and there is a specific role to play there in Advancement, where I put project management skills to use. But, it is much more in terms of the research, writing, and publishing I work at, sometimes for money, sometimes not, which is a current and problematic discussion within many communities, from higher education to museums to not-for-profits. In 2022, the practice of history enabled me to participate in a webinar hosted by Duke University, publish a book, lecture for the Smithsonian Associates, attend a fully supported study week in Chicago, and present at the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) conference in Buffalo. This is a typical year, and it is a good reminder, as I write this for you, that this is a position of privilege. 

4. Why is studying/knowing history important?

Is there any way to unpack what happened on January 6, 2021 without the assistance of history? It was shocking and, as yet, has not had enough historical work done around that event to begin to understand its causes, repercussions and resonances throughout not only the country, but the world. I don't know why I am honing in on this right now, when there are hundreds if not thousands of topics worthy of discussion and learning. But, I guess that's the point: I am interested in evolving discussions and continual learning. History is one tool with which to engage in that way of living. 

5. What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?

Usually I say that whatever I am working on is my current favorite thing, and that is because it is so fresh. Recently I finished a short biography of the American artist Jeff Koons, which will appear on the Literary and Cultural Heritage Maps of PA, hosted by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book. Koons, whether you love his artwork or hate it, is the most successful American artist after Andy Warhol. And, the practice of art/history helped me think about this: Pennsylvania, a heavily rural state, produced the two most important American artists of the last sixty years, at opposite ends of the state. One artist is considered an icon of "Pop" and the other, an icon of "Neo-Pop."  What are their legacies for Pennsylvania?

I came to learn and work in Pennsylvania without knowing anything at all about it, but I've already got project ideas to last for the next few years. This is my favorite aspect of history: the histories needing to be written are just sitting there, waiting for someone with the ability to look and to question to get at it. 

6. What drew you to the field of public history?

The opportunity to work on artifacts/objects outside of the general purview of traditional historians and art historians drew me, first, to public art, and then to public history. There is room to breathe in these spaces. Boundaries can be crossed more easily. Materials are closer at hand. 

7. Why is the study of public history, and public history itself important?

Practicing public history is something anyone can do and everyone should do! Today I went to the doctor, and he reminded me why exercise is important. It is work, but, if you find something you like, it is also a joy. Doing public art/history is work, but it can also be a joy.