Wendy Higgins is a USA Today and New York Times best-selling author of Young Adult Fantasy and Paranormal Romance novels. Her works, which include the Sweet Evil Series, Flirting with Maybe, and the Eurona Duology Series, are among my favorites to read and have captured the hearts of thousands of readers worldwide. As a former English teacher with a bachelor’s in Creative Writing, Higgins brings a wealth of knowledge to the writing world, including her own experiences. On August 7th, I was granted the opportunity to interview her via email for the Write On! section of my blog. In the interview, Wendy talks about what it’s like in the life of a writer.
Thank you, Wendy!
Wendy, what first inspired you to become a writer? Any particular author or genre?
As a child, I was inspired by my own overly active imagination, and stories that I read from the library, and read to me by teachers and my mom. I recall loving Where the Sidewalk Ends and books by R.L. Stine.
What made you decide to write fantasy and paranormal romance novels for young adults?
I love the ultimate escapism of paranormal and fantasy. I wish there’d been more when I was a teen. I write the sort of stories that the teen me would have wanted and needed. Young adults are so full of passion and life, on the cusp of adulthood, brimming with possibilities. I want to nourish and enrich those years for them.
I imagine a great deal of writing involves getting familiar with the subject. Do you research before you begin writing a story?
With each book, I have a document or notebook filled with pages of notes. Research, character facts, setting details, etc. I have to figure out the basics before I begin, and then I make notes as I go to remind myself of certain details.
What is your favorite part about the writing/publishing process?
I love the revision process. For me, that’s where the stories really grow wings and come alive! As far as publishing, cover reveal days are super fun. I just love seeing everyone’s excitement.
What does a typical day of writing look like for you?
I only write during the school year. I take off the holidays and summer break to focus on my children (although I still do other writerly things, like interviews and marketing/publicity/social media). During the school year I take the children to school, and then I write for about 4-5 hours, Monday through Friday. I’m often distracted by the internet, so I’m lucky to get one scene or one chapter written in a day.
Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you cope?
All of the time, with every book! I usually give myself permission to take a break and go back to it. The best way for me to get past it is to reread some, or all, of what I’ve written so that I can get fully back into the frame of the story.
As strange as this may be to ask, what does your writing space look like? Some writers have unique spaces they use that help inspire them. We’d love to see where you create your stories!
I write in bed. I put two pillows behind me, dog snuggling next to me, laptop on my lap. That’s it.
Where do your book ideas come from? Have you ever had a strange experience that led to a book idea?
Most of my ideas are 100% from my imagination. Like, out of nowhere. I had a series of apocalyptic dreams that loosely led me to write Unknown, but it was more of the tone of the nightmares, not anything specific that transferred from my dreams to the pages.
What are the upsides and downsides of being an author?
Upside is getting paid to daydream and stay in pajamas all day. Also, book people are the best, so going to events and interacting with readers online is addictively fun.
Downside is when people steal your work (pirating), and the sad realization that you cannot make all readers happy—not everyone will enjoy your stories.
What has been the most rewarding experience being an author?
When readers write to say I’ve inspired them or helped them through a difficult time. That is the ultimate soul-satisfaction. Those messages make me cry.
What has been the least rewarding?
When readers write you or tweet you to gripe about your stories or to tell you what they didn’t like. While I appreciate feedback during the writing process, once it’s published it cannot be changed, so it just makes me feel bad.
Out of all the books you’ve written, do you have a favorite? Do you have a favorite character out of them all?
I think Sweet Evil and Kaidan Rowe will always have the biggest chunk of my heart. Maybe because it was the first book I ever finished, and I poured all of myself into it. And Kaidan was such a complex character that I was forced to stretch myself as a writer.
Speaking of characters, how do you build them? How do you manage to make them into real people readers can relate to?
For characters to be relatable, they have to have flaws and nervous gestures, attributes that make them unique. The way they talk—slang, dialect. The way they move—body language. It’s those details that bring them to life.
Is there anything about writing life you think is misperceived by the public? Any words of encouragement for aspiring writers?
I think there’s an assumption that published authors are “rich,” and that’s just not the case. It took me three years from the time I got a publishing contract to the time I got paid, and it was a small amount, like part-time job income. So my advice is to be patient and to keep your “day job” while you write on the side (unless you’re lucky enough to have someone financially supporting you, lol.) Write what’s on your heart. Don’t worry about trends or what people might think. Believe in it.
Is it harder to write short stories or novels? Any advice to beginning writers on where they can get started?
Personally, I find short stories to be more difficult. Perhaps it’s because I’m wordy and I love lots of details to build the relationships. I find it hard to have a complete story arc in a short amount of pages. It takes major talent. I wrote Flirting with Maybe as a short story in my college fiction writing class, and I expanded it into a novella for my publisher upon their request.
Unknown, the latest writing piece you are working on, is being released August 16th, 2016. Is there anything you can tell us about it? Has writing this series been different than writing Sweet Evil or Flirting with Maybe?
Unknown is my first “adult” book, so the content is more mature than Sweet Evil or Flirting with Maybe, but it’s still a love story at heart, just as the others are. I’ve written paranormal, high fantasy, and a contemporary novella, so I figured it was time for something with a sci-fi/dystopian/apocalyptic feel.
What would you like readers to take away from reading your books?
A message of hope and love.
Finally, my last and very random question: If you could chat with any other author who ever lived, who would it be? What would you do?
I would want to chat with J.K. Rowling over coffee or tea in Scotland. I’d want to hear about her insecurities as a writer, something that fascinates me.
Can’t get enough of Wendy? Well, you don’t have to. Find out more about her and her books at www.wendyhigginswrites.com
Interviewer – Ariana Nelson
Editor – Callie Oliver
Photo – Wendy Higgins