Award-winning author and matriarch Priscilla B Shuler has proven the truth of her words with the way she has lived her life. Whether we accept it or not, most people believe that life comes to a standstill after sixty. Old age is often considered to be the sunset of life. Ageism is a real thing in the modern world. Even with all the new advancements in thoughts and technology, few people believe that old people can be of much use. Many tend to negate the very worth of people based on age alone. They dismiss someone as frail and unimportant not even taking into account their varied life experiences and years of hard work. Most people can never fathom anyone doing something novel and challenging when they are beyond a specific age.
Priscilla did not let society’s archaic notions about age stop her from pursuing her dreams. Defying conventions, this remarkable lady took up the pen and set about realizing the ever elusive dream of becoming an author at the age of seventy-five. Yes, you read right. Priscilla began a completely new chapter in her life about ten years after the age that most consider to be the age of retirement.
Priscilla B Shuler was born in August 1932. Though she had two older siblings, she shared her childhood only with her brother, Forest. Her older sister, Victoria, lived with her father’s wealthy aunt, Inez Bemis, in Florida. Priscilla’s childhood was not as idyllic as some. She had her work cut out for most of her childhood as she had to deal with the everlasting demands of her bipolar father. Her mother opted to remain silent to maintain peace. Most of her time was spent hiding in her closet or wandering outside. During this time, reading was not something on her radar.
Growing up in the 1930s, the time of the Great Depression in the USA, Priscilla had a vague idea about books in her early childhood. When she was in the first or second grade, she got her first taste of books when she came across Dick and Jane readers. The gates of the magical world of the written word were further opened when she was around six to seven years of age. Her great aunt, Inez Bemis, gifted her ‘A Child’s Garden of Verses’ on one of her visits. This was the first book that she loved. She loved it so much that she kept it till it “literally fell to pieces.” For a window of time, the school became a place where she could strive. She aced every subject. Discovering eminent literary figures like William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Edgar Allen Poe bolstered her passion for the classics. However, things took a turn in high school. She was placed in the path of a teacher who bore similar traits to her controlling father.
Things reached a head when she turned eighteen. Taking life by the reigns, she fled home and met the love of her life. Bill was a Clemson ROTC Cadet in his junior year when Priscilla crossed paths with him. They married and Priscilla joined Bill as he embarked on his military career after graduation. Eventually, the couple was blessed with four children. The army life gave the family a chance to travel all over the world for twenty-five years. Priscilla took advantage of the rare opportunity and studied the cultures, arts, languages, lifestyles, and peoples of all the places they visited. The Shuler family educated themselves in the school of life.
The Art of Writing
While in France, Priscilla became addicted to reading. As the Shuler family often got stationed in different places, Priscilla had to write hundreds of letters to her friends and family. These excursions into writing made her realize that she relished penning the descriptions of the highs and lows of their lives. However, there was little time to ponder on that as she was busy with her responsibilities as a wife and mother.
Things changed when her children became adults and left the nest. Upon retirement, her husband started dedicating his time to his woodshop. Priscilla finally had time for herself. At the age of seventy-five, she gave in to her lifelong urge to write and put her pen to paper. ‘The Hunter’ was her first book wherein she presented a fictionalized version of her ten-year-old son’s raccoon hunting adventure into the Wateree River Swamp. The overwhelmingly positive response from all her family members propelled her writing aspirations. Since then, there has been no looking back. The one thing that sets her books apart from the multitude is her ingenuity and realistic writing style. All her works bear the influence of the rich and diverse life that she has led. The experiences of her friends and family members also leave an impact on her books. This makes her stories irresistibly relatable.
Let us have a look at Shuler’s amazing works:
Set in the Wateree River Swamp near Camden, South Carolina, ‘The Hunter’ takes the reader on a nostalgic tour through the sixties. Ten-year-old Vince is super excited to be the youngest member of the much-anticipated raccoon hunting party. Surprisingly, the excursion helps him find himself. This coming-of-age novella is Priscilla B Shuler’s first foray into the world of writing. Her debut book brought her writing talents to light and drove her to move forward with her aspirations to be an author.
Two Can Play
‘Two Can Play’ won the title of the BREW Reader’s Choice Award – Romantic Fiction 2021/2022. Priscilla churned out her first full-length novel, ‘Two Can Play.’ In this spicy story, Shuler puts forward the tale of a wife wanting a divorce from her wealthy yet philandering husband. Caroline’s unique way of making her husband fall in love with herself to trap him into separating might as well open up unexpected avenues for her. Shuler’s ingenious idea of transforming the wife into the femme fatale adds a new dimension to the book. This is a book with a truly original premise. Here, Priscilla portrays that one can do anything one sets their mind to do.
‘Kuimba’ is the winner of the BREW Readers’ Choice Award for November 2021 for the African-American Historical Fiction of 2021-2022 category. In ‘Kuimba,’ Priscilla B Shuler upholds the theme of forgiveness and redemption. When a blue-eyed boy with healing powers is born to a loving black couple, living in their small community in South Carolina is transformed. The ‘Jesus Boy’ with his mystical singing voice elicits both love and anger among the people. His mother, Ophelia, and their overlord’s wife, Lucy, adore him. However, Lucy’s adoration creates a great feeling of resentment in her son, R.Ed Barnard. Kuimba’s love and forgiveness juxtapose R.Ed Barnard’s envy and hatred. It is worth watching to see what prevails in the end.
‘Favored’ is the winner of the BREW Readers’ Choice Award – Christian Historical Fiction of 2021/2022. It is a small-town mystery that highlights the importance of second chances and the power of letting go. The community of Zacchary, South Carolina, is shaken when a beloved waitress, Colleen becomes the victim of attempted murder. Sheriff Boyd Custer and his posse are determined to bring the culprit to justice. However, things are never so easy. The good sheriff and the members of the community all have some secrets of their own. Shuler shows how love is not always easy. Sometimes, it is so complicated that it boggles the mind. With her realistic writing style, she effectively puts forward the effects of a violent crime on the victim as well as on all other involved parties. Faith is a significant theme of this story.
‘The Medallion’ is the recipient of the BREW Reader’s Choice Award – Historical Romantic Fiction 2021/2022. Priscilla upholds the importance of family in this novel. The family of Martingale Manor is not a conventional one where everyone is related by blood. People from different walks of life are brought together by circumstances. They form their own eclectic family through love. Teresa, the lowest servant girl of the manor, always believed her mother to be a scarred gypsy who everyone called a witch. Teresa herself had inherited healing powers from her. When the lord of the manor, Lord Harry, falls ill, Teresa’s healing touch comes in handy. Like always things are never as simple as that. Along the way, she learns that someone is after Lord Harry. She also comes face to face with her own hitherto unknown past. It would be a treat to see Teresa overcome all obstacles and make her future. This is a well-researched historical romance that is bound to appeal to all history and romance buffs.
‘RAT’ is the winner of the BREW Readers’ Choice Award for February 2022 in the Coming of Age Novel 2021/2022 category. In the early 1800s, the life of a young street urchin is changed when he comes across Miss Abigail. The nameless boy goes by the name of Rat as he starts his first job at The Cross and Fly. Soon, he gets a job aboard a ship bound to the Americas. RAT then takes on the name Ryan Alexander Trenton as he is promoted to First Mate. One thing leads to another and he finds himself to be the chief of a Miwok family. His adventures continue. Fate takes him from the alleys of London to the gilded shores of the New World. Places like San Francisco, Louisiana, and South Carolina are all pit stops in his trek to find himself. ‘Rat’ is the story of a nobody who strives to be somebody. Shuler shows that nobody should be discounted as “every person has a story to tell.”
Daddy Jack’s Place
‘Daddy Jack’s Place’ won the BREW Readers’ Choice Award – Christian Fiction 2021/2022. Priscilla B Shuler’s ‘Daddy Jack’s Place’ is a tale of faith and perseverance. It follows Jack Boussereau as he upholds his faith in God while navigating the treacherous path of life filled with dubiousness and racism. He devoted himself to God after being saved by Him from his alcoholic father. Everything seemed to be going his way as he became a preacher in Addison, North Carolina, and married the scarred yet beautiful Patricia Ann also known as Patti Ann. Things change when he comes face to face with a shocking secret. At only twenty-seven, he forsakes his old life and flees to live alone. His friend, Tom, helps him annul his marriage and cut ties with everyone. After a lifetime of odd jobs, he finally settles in a small community where he becomes a valued member. Jack opens his own country store and names it Daddy Jack’s Place. However, one can never outrun their past. Jack finds himself revisiting his past. It would be worthwhile to see if the past finally heals Jack and enables him to live in the present. Shuler brilliantly portrays the true nature of racial disparity in her novel. She depicts how segregation is prevalent even within the same religious community. Characters like Jack and Bobby do their best to bring about equality while walking on the path of Christ. Priscilla’s sensitivity in handling delicate subjects like abuse, racism, and incest is truly admirable.
With six of her award-winning bestsellers already gracing our bookshelves and a seventh on the way, Priscilla continues her writing journey. Her upcoming book, ‘Encounter,’ has many of us waiting with bated breath. She is working on an idea for a new book and an anthology as well. Moreover, she is in the midst of writing her own memoir.
Priscilla B Shuler is an astounding woman and a deserving role model for many. She has never let anything stop her, and lives her life to the fullest. This month of August, she is celebrating her 90th birthday. A decade short of completing a century on this earth, Priscilla continues celebrating her life and creating new worlds for her readers. Throughout her life, Priscilla B Shuler exemplifies that it is never too late to live, love, and above all, make dreams come true.