For today’s Sunday Dinner, I invited Toni Shiloh to join us. Toni is a fellow author who writes Christian Contemporary Romance for a variety of publishers. I’m excited for her to tell us more about her latest release, In Search of a Prince, from Bethany House.
Sunday Dinner is a traditional (noon) meal served after church on Sundays. Whole families, including extended family, would gather over a large meal to celebrate a day of rest. Multiple cultures enjoy this Sunday Dinner tradition. In my experience, I know it from both my Midwestern farm family as well as my Italian-American family. Now, I’d like to bring Sunday Dinner virtually to you. So, pull up a chair as we invite various guests to join us each week!
Without further ado … Toni, please introduce yourself. What’s something interesting readers would enjoy learning about you?
Thank you so much for having me. I’m Toni Shiloh and I get to spend my days writing Christian contemporary romances. This means I often cook up ways to get my characters in trouble to stretch them out and help them grow. The interesting thing is I stopped growing (physically) at the age 12. I’m 5’1” and about the shortest person in my house (my youngest is currently eye level but about to pass me).
Your next book, In Search of a Prince, releases on February 1 from Bethany House Publishers. Can you tell us about it?
It seems like a dream come true . . . until it forces her to question everything.
Brielle Adebayo is fully content teaching at a New York City public school and taking annual summer vacations with her mother to Martha’s Vineyard. But everything changes when her mom drops a bombshell–Brielle is really a princess in the island kingdom of Ọlọrọ Ilé, off the coast of Africa, and she must immediately assume her royal position, since the health of her grandfather, the king, is failing.
Distraught by all the secrets her mother kept, Brielle is further left spinning when the Ọlọrọ Ilé Royal Council brings up an old edict that states she must marry before her coronation, or the crown will pass to another. Brielle is uncertain if she even wants the throne, and with her world totally shaken, where will she find the courage to take a chance on love and brave the perils a wrong decision may bring?
What made you choose the setting? Is the Kingdom of Ọlọrọ Ilé, Africa, a real or author-created place? Where on the continent is it located?
I wanted to choose a setting that would allow me to give readers a Black princess and Africa seemed the perfect place. Ọlọrọ Ilé is not a real place, it’s completely fictional and a creation of my mind with some influences of real places. It’s an island off the west coast of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea, west of Bioko island.
What research was required to set a book in a different country on a different continent? Did you need to, or have you, traveled there?
Unfortunately I was unable to travel there because of the pandemic. However, I watched videos on YouTube, asked an amazing person many questions about life there and if my story was true. Of course, not all true because it is fictionalized, but I wanted realism and authenticity as much as possible.
How did you choose the language Brielle’s family speaks?
I actually looked at the many tribes in Nigeria and researched the history of them. Based off of the information I found, I chose to model the country after the Yoruba tribe, throwing in some differences of other tribes for variation’s sake. The majority of the language used in the book is actually Yourba and not the fictional language I mention (Oninan).
How did you determine how much of the language to include; what research was required to make it authentic?
That was tough. I wanted to make it authentic but not overwhelm the reader. I mostly used it in greetings or personal endearments. I spent a lot of time on YouTube and verifying with people who live in Nigeria.
How much of the cultural aspects of Brielle’s county are from your imagination? How much is founded on real customs?
Most of the cultural aspects were taken from the Yoruba people in Nigeria but I did change things to fit the story or what I imagined a monarch would act like. So I feel like it’s a mash up, if that makes sense.
Is there anything else you wish to tell readers about the setting, language, or culture represented in In Search of a Prince?
Just that I hope I did the Yoruba culture justice, but also, I hope people will let their imagination run and enjoy the country I created. It’s always fun to armchair travel to another country and I hope you love the story.
I understand there’s to be a second book in the series, what can you tell us about that book? Will it have the same setting?
Yes! To Win a Prince will release September 13 of this year. It will tell the story of Brielle’s best friend, Iris Blakely. It is also set in Ọlọrọ Ilé and I just love how it turned out.
The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw the stories to an end. Thank you, Toni, for joining us today to tell us all about Brielle and the island kingdom of Ọlọrọ Ilé.
If you would like to purchase a copy of In Search of a Prince you can purchase from Baker Book House or any major retailers. And, if you would like learn about Toni and her other books, you can find Toni at http://tonishiloh.com, which details her books as well as provides social media links.
You can also pre-order To Win a Prince, the story of Brielle’s best friend! Isn’t the cover gorgeous? Baker Book House is an indie bookstore that offers a great pre-order deal you can find here. Other retailers will have the pre-order links for To Win a Prince soon.
Over Sunday Dinner next week we will be joined by an Emergency Veterinary Technician who also owns the same breed of dog Lily owns in A Strike to the Heart. See you then!