Tell us about the vibe of your first book signing.
My first book signing was like an out-of-body experience. On December 2, 2023, ten days before the book was released, I walked down a broad flight of stairs in Farmington Hills, Michigan, into a basement decorated like a Christmas haven featuring a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Champagne, wine, and other libations surrounded an ice bucket on the bar, and the heavenly smell of fried chicken lit up my nostrils. The homeowner, a pretty, brown woman I had never met, welcomed me with outstretched arms and a warm smile. A mutual friend had invited me to make a guest appearance at their annual Christmas gathering.
Being in that room mainly filled with people I did not know was surreal, especially as some asked, “Are you the author?” and others addressed me as “the author.” Lifting the pen to sign that first book was bittersweet. I wished my mother could have witnessed me standing next to a life-sized banner of my book cover, where a line of people clutching my memoir and patiently waited as I smiled, held a short conversation, and signed my name inside the front cover. I sold the 42 books I brought and left with an order for 36 more.
What do you feel will be your legacy?
My legacy will be the courage, bravery, and vulnerability to share my life story in “Daddy’s House: A Daughter’s Memoir of Setbacks, Triumphs & Rising Above Her Roots.” Honestly, confronting domestic and child abuse in the home and sexual abuse, racism, and misogyny while maintaining the strength to love myself and respect and forgive will help others to heal and forgive others for past hurts.
What kind of impact do you feel African Americans have had in the arts, specifically in the literary world?
African Americans like Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Paul Robeson, and James Baldwin have made a profound impact on the arts. That these literary giants’ stories and works are still studied in classrooms and relevant in the fight against racial injustice, sexism, and in America’s social climate today is a testament to their impact in the literary world.
Tell us about your book (Long synopsis).
In this poignant memoir, a determined young girl becomes a formidable woman, confronting obstacles with courage, determination, and spirituality.
The third of seventeen children born to strict Southern Baptist parents, Mildred is so capable, at seven years old, her father taxes her to keep the books for his 60-acre farm. Mildred leaves for technical school in Ohio, and at 19, her world is turned upside down. On her way home from work, a stranger kidnaps and sex-traffics her for an evening to a baseball team. Mildred buries the memory of that night beyond consciousness and abandons her budding singing career, first love, and new job to start over in a different city.
Abuse for Mildred didn’t begin on that fateful 1970 day in Columbus, Ohio. She’s raised by a soft-spoken, loving, abused mother and a disciplinarian father, prone to emotional and physical abuse. Daddy’s House: A Daughter’s Memoir of Setbacks, Triumphs, and Growing New Roots chronicles Mildred's life from an Alabama farm saddled with a 225-pound per day cotton quota to executive positions in corporate America. In the cotton field, her reward is Daddy’s leather strap if she fails to deliver.
After fleeing the rape, Mildred completes a year at university but finds herself pregnant, unmarried, and a college dropout dependent on a welfare check—but not for long. Throughout this gripping story, armed with an unbreakable mother-daughter bond and her father’s work ethic, Mildred confronts obstacles with stubborn resilience. At the end of the journey, Mildred does what God put her on earth to do—help others. And in so doing, she is able to recapture that buried memory and heal. Spending precious days comforting her father on his death bed, Mildred finds peace and the strength to forgive every offender, including her daddy, a man she deeply loves, who is also the man who hurt her most.
What was the most challenging aspect of sharing your story?
The most challenging aspect of sharing my story was revealing my family’s secrets. That became easier after both of my parents passed. Another difficulty was exposing my most vulnerable self to strangers. Yet, telling this story was the most freeing thing I have ever done. I am a wholly better person for having done so.
As a public speaker, what topics will you focus on and why?
As a public speaker, I will focus on triumphing over setbacks and stressing the value of hard work to change unfavorable circumstances. I will stress boldly confronting fear and other debilitating obstacles that prohibit becoming one's best self.
If your book was adapted to a film, who would you want to play you and why?
If adapted to a film, I would want Kerry Washington to play me. Washington is bold, brazen, and a take-no-prisoners actress who exudes strength and bravery in every role she plays. This is how I view myself.
Where can people purchase your book?
Daddy’s House: A Daughter’s Memoir of Setbacks, Triumphs & Rising Above Her Roots” can be purchased online at Amazon or Barnes & Nobles. You may also visit my website at www.mildredjmills.com and click on “Books” to purchase the book.