Introducing our next featured womxn writer of colour! The lovely Hyacinthe M. Miller. Read her bio and a short interview with her below. If you’re looking for an excerpt from her bad ass novel, Kenora Reinvented, check it out here!
Hyacinthe M. Miller is an award-winning author of short stories, magazine and newspaper articles, contemporary women’s fiction and non-fiction. She’s been published in Borealis magazine and in Herotica 7, Whispered Words, and Allucinor, The Elements of Romance anthologies.
Her debut novel, Kenora Reinvented, (Investigations, Mystery and Seasoned Romance) was published in 2019. Her current works-in-progress include The Fifth Man, book two of the Kenora & Jake series and a general interest text based on interviews with over seventy current and retired police officers around the world about challenges, rewards and leadership in their chosen profession.
A former adjudicator with the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, she now works as an organizational development consultant. Hyacinthe is a founding member and Past President of the Writers Community of York Region. She belongs to professional organizations including Crime Writers of Canada, the Alliance of Independent Authors, Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.
Words of Wisdom from Hyacinthe
What does being a womxn writer of colour mean to you?
It means it may be more challenging to be accepted as a professional who writes about non-traditional characters. For me, the fear of putting my writing ‘out there’ held me back for four years. I kept taking classes and workshops, but finally realized that if I was going to tell my truth, I had to stop being afraid of being judged.
My protagonist, Kenora Tedesco, is not your typical private investigator. She’s mixed race and has always identified as Black. Her late mother was Black, from Quebec, Canada. Her father (at least that’s what she thinks in Book 1), is southern Italian.
We all know that Womxn of Colour face challenges in the writing world but what successes or strengths can you share with us from this beautiful identity we share?
There was a thread on Twitter a few weeks ago about readers being disappointed that the people of colour featured in some novels written by writers of colour were too…ordinary. The characters weren’t gangbangers, collecting welfare or spouting jargon. They grew up in conventional neighbourhoods, got an education, found employment and formed households. Regular activities.
My strength is sharing stories about the ‘ordinariness’ of People of Colour, to try to dispel the stereotyped that we are somehow ‘different’; because of the colour of our skin, our gender, our relationships, etc.
A reader from the U.S. asked why I hadn’t included more racial conflict or identity issues in my novel. That made me wonder what people asking those questions think my family or my protagonist do.
I’m a third generation Canadian. My father and grandfather were war veterans. My brothers and I were athletes and attended university. Quite ordinary. That’s not to say we were shielded from racism, inequities or discrimination. My point is that those events may have been part of our lived experience, but they haven’t defined who we are. Or how the characters I write go about their days.
I have achieved immense satisfaction from being a founding member of the Writers Community of York Region and a board member for Sisters in Crime Toronto and Crime Writers of Canada. My previous work experience and my leadership skills are part of who I am, and they help me be a better writer.
What words of wisdom do you have for aspiring writers?
Keep reading – a variety of genres. Figure out what kind of other authors’ writing you like. Compare their style to how you assemble your words and ideas into stories.
Keep writing. Don’t copy other authors but keep in the back of your mind those attributes that make their reading enjoyable. Build your stories word by word. Let those words ‘cool’ for a while then come back to what you’ve written with fresh eyes. You may be pleasantly surprised. All work has to be edited. Join critique groups where other writers share their work and offer constructive criticism on yours. The objectives are to become comfortable sharing your work while improving your writing.
Enter contests. Be honest about your chances and try out those with no cost or low entry fees. It’s difficult, but you have to overcome your fears. Ask for feedback.
When did you realize you had something important to say?
They call middle-aged women affected by divorce or separation ‘silver splitters’. In my experience, so many women experience significant changes in mid-life. They have a choice – give up, settle for more of the same or reinvent themselves.
This journey of discovery – often called The Virgins Promise – is what I wanted to portray with fictional characters. This matters to women going through similar life-changing events as Kenora, my protagonist does – the death of a beloved parent, becoming an empty nester, being set aside for a younger model, having to start a new career.
Starting over is part of many women’s lives and I wanted my character to show how it could be done. Kenora is forty-two years old as the story begins. She doubts herself, she makes mistakes because she thinks she knows how things work, she’s skittish about living on her own and having the courage to approach a second-chance romantic relationship.
Share with us how your work has impacted your community or broken barriers for you and those around you.
I don’t really have a ‘community’ as such. I’ve heard from readers that they resonate with Kenora’s challenges and successes.