Writer Spotlight: Mireille Harper
With the Writer Spotlight Series, we create a positive image for Black girls to refer to, by having conversations with different writers and illustrators. This month we have been doing Q&As with many writers, to get to know more about them and their work. Here, we are showcasing all the questions we have asked Mireille Harper the author of Timelines From Black History. You can find more book reviews in our first issue, available to buy here
When did you first discover your passion for writing?
I discovered my passion for writing from a young age. I would create stories when I was young and got into creative writing. When I went to university, I started writing articles and pieces for blogs and discovered how much I loved writing. Since then, I’ve written around 300 written pieces across different platforms – from lifestyle and travel articles to opinion pieces – and was lucky enough to write for both Timelines of Everyone and Timelines from Black History.
Sadé really enjoyed reading up on the different timelines of prominent Black figures in your book, could you tell us your favourite timeline/s within the book?
I loved writing about Serena Williams’ timeline – she’s such an icon and a real superstar. I love that she has always stood up for what she believes in, has continued to excel and push herself and worked on her own passions outside of her main job (like starting a fashion business on the side whilst being a tennis world champ)! I also loved writing about Stormzy – it was great to talk about someone who I’d grown up with who has gone on to inspire me in so many ways.
What inspired the idea for the book?
My lovely editor at DK got in touch with me in June this year and said he had the idea after my work with him on Timelines of Everyone. I thought it was an excellent idea and that we needed more work celebrating Black history and achievements than ever before. I couldn’t think of an organisation I’d want to work with more, and I was eager to work on a project where I could share the proceeds with organisations I believe in like Free Black Uni, The Black Curriculum and No White Saviours.
How much research did you need to do for Timelines from Black History: Leaders, Legends, Legacies?
Quite a bit! We reproduced all the spreads I’d written for Timelines of Everyone (Mary Seacole, Mansa Musa, Toussaint L’Ouverture, Askia The Great, Fela Kuti, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Taytu Betul, Serena Williams and LeBron James) then I worked on new spreads – Stormzy, Evolution, Early African Kingdoms, Later African Kingdoms, Lewis Howard Latimer (an inventor and draftsman best known for his contributions to patenting the light bulb and telephone) and suggested names for our gallery spread such as Nanny of the Maroons, Doreen Lawrence, Frantz Fanon and Aimé Césaire. I did my research through old history books I own and online resources. There is so much information out there if you look hard enough, and I felt so empowered learning about histories I hadn’t known about before, like the Benin and Songhai empires. We then gathered spreads from Timelines of Everyone which I did sensitivity reads and re-writes of. After that, I wrote a foreword talking about my childhood and why Timelines from Black History is the book I wish I’d had growing up.
Previous to Timelines from Black History: Leaders, Legends, Legacies, you produced another book detailing the historical Timelines for Everyone, will you be adding another book to the Timelines series?
I found it great to work on both Timelines of Everyone and Timelines from Black History and I’m currently working alongside other contributors on a new book that will be announced soon! I’d also love to do a book on Timelines from Caribbean History but let’s see!
Could you tell us a Fun Fact about you?
When I was really young, my Mum read me a lot of folklore and mythology stories and for a while, I was convinced that in my former life I was related to Anansi the Spider! I had a real imagination.
What do you currently have on your playlist?
Everything. I listen to all genres of music from R&B and hip hop to electronica and drum and bass. At the moment, I’ve got these tracks on repeat
- Chloe and Halle | Forgive Me
- Koffee ft. Gunna | W
- Alex Isley | Set in Stone
- Pip Millett | June
- IYAMAH | Balance
Timeline From Black History
Foreword Mireille Harper
You can find more about Mireille here