Good morning and welcome to Extra Gravy, a Harrison Bergeron Production coming to you from the glass-enclosed studios in Biscuit City, a wonderful magical land where all your dreams come true, everyone is intelligent and beautiful and has a ton of money! And it’s 72 degrees and sunny year ‘round. Our guest today is Wendy Higgins, novelist, mother, my Facebook friend, Gainesville resident, and author of Sweet Evil, a romance novel that will come out on May 1.
Dan: Welcome, Wendy, to Extra Gravy, probably the world’s only virtual radio show that exists only in the mind of our readers.
Wendy: Why, thank you, Dan! I’m glad to be here.
Dan: I first became aware of you as a writer when I read about your upcoming novel on your FB page. How exciting it must be to have a novel coming out!
Wendy: It’s a dream-come-true. I can still hardly believe it.
Dan: Is this your first novel? How did it come to be written?
Wendy: Yes, it’s my debut. It began three years ago when I felt like I wasn’t making the most of my life. I loved being a homemaker, but I missed working with teens as a teacher. So I sat down, said a prayer, started thinking about how much I used to enjoy writing stories, and voila! Seven weeks later my first draft was complete.
Dan: That’s some very fast composing! I see you chose the romance novel form for your book. Why that genre? (I have to admit I read my first romance novel with Jolene Perry’s The Next Door Boys and loved it. I’m hooked on the romance novel!)
Wendy: At the time I started writing, Teen/Young Adult fantasy romance stories were on the move, and still are. I am fascinated by angels and demons, and it was something I wanted to explore. And even though it’s fantasy, it’s ultimately a love story. A forbidden romance. I love that stuff. And on a side note, I love Jolene Perry!
Dan: She was interviewed on Extra Gravy about a month ago. A terrific young woman and talent.
So, how did your book come to be published? That’s a challenge for any author.
Wendy: My road to publication was not traditional. I wanted feedback and critique from other writers, so I found an online community run by HarperCollins called Inkpop. (It’s since been sold to Figment.com.) Inkpop was my target community of readers - people who enjoyed the YA genres. Along with giving one another feedback, we could vote for our favorite stories. Each month the site’s top five stories went to the editors at HarperCollins for a review. It was such an awesome opportunity. I made it to the top five in five weeks. After receiving my review, I was contacted by an editor at Harper’s Children with interest in the book. One other Inkpopper and I were offered contracts in this way. It’s still incredible to think about!
Dan: That is an incredible story and one that should be helpful to other writers out there. The routes that writers take to publication are varied and wonderful. It’s not like the old days when you sent manuscripts off to about fifteen publishers and collected rejection letter after rejection letter. (Ask me how I know this.) Writers today are so much more sophisticated about finding outlets for their writing.
I’m getting a little ahead of myself. How did you learn to write, and who encouraged you?
Wendy: I’ve been writing stories since I learned to write. It’s not something anyone in my family did - I think my parents must have thought I was weird because I would hide away to read and write for hours. But they encouraged me. My mom always, always said that I would be a writer some day.
Dan: A common thread among writers seems to be that they read, read, read, and write, write, write. I know you were an English major and an English teacher (a noble major and a nobler profession, since I was both!). How did your major and experience teaching English influence your writing? (Dumb question, I know…)
Wendy: I actually majored in creative writing, so that was a great way to hone my skills and explore the beauty of words in a more thoughtful setting. As a teacher I was influenced by the lives and stories of my students - teens are so passionate about everything, and they’re on the brink of so many exciting discoveries - it’s a fascinating time, and I wanted to reach out to teens through my writing.
Dan: That’s so very cool!
Are you planning any public appearances in connection with your book? Please let us know times and dates so we can come have our copies autographed! (Mine is on pre-order at Amazon.com .)
Wendy: I would love to do signings or appearances of some sort, but nothing has been set-up yet. I plan to visit area bookstores in late March. So exciting!
Dan: By all means, do that! Barnes and Noble in Manassas and Books-a-Million in Potomac Mills both host book signings. I’m not sure what is involved, but they can tell you. I hope we’ll be able to come to your book signings soon!
So, how does your husband Nathan regard your writing? Does he give you special treatment because you are a writer? (Nathan is one of the four Drs. Higgins associated with our church. His father Bill is the Senior Pastor, and brother Bryan is a PhD and brother Andrew a dentist.)
Wendy: Nathan thinks I’m insane, ha ha. When I’m in “book mode” I’m completely flighty and preoccupied. He’s learned to see the signs and accept my quirks, though he teases me about it. He’s very excited for me, and he’s been super cool. He reads my final drafts to help me spot errors. I’m blessed to have him.
Dan: That’s great! I’m the same way when I’m in “blog mode.”
You’re a stay-at-home mom, right? What’s a typical day like for you? When do you find the time to write?
Wendy: Time is my biggest challenge. My daughter is in kindergarten, and my son is in morning preschool three days a week. I most write at night after the children go to bed. Unfortunately this means no more lazy television nights with my hubby. I haven’t watched a grown-up TV show in three years. And when I’m deep in a writing frenzy, the house really suffers.
Dan: Yes. My home projects suffer as well. (I’ll be blogging about that on Monday.)
I see you graduated from George Mason. Would you tell us about your time at Mason? (Go, Patriots!)
Wendy: I transferred to Mason after three semesters at Longwood. I guess I was homesick. I lived on campus one year and was a commuter student the rest of the time. I enjoyed my time at GMU, although it took me forever to graduate because I kept taking time off for silly things like becoming a flight attendant...
Dan: Oh? Can you tell us about how that worked out for you?
Wendy: It was a short-lived venture, only about three months, while I was twenty-one. I was in a New Jersey apartment with seven other Continental flight attendants. We were broke, but it was a blast…until we had a fire and lost everything. Luckily we all got out, but it was the scariest night of my life. I took it as a sign that I needed to get myself back in school and quit playing around.
Dan: Oh, my! What a story! You could incorporate that awful experience into a novel…if you’re not totally done with writing about or being a flight attendant.
So, you grew up in this area, right? What can you tell us about that?
Wendy: I was an Army brat, so I lived on several bases before coming to Virginia in seventh grade. I’ve moved a bit since then, but I always come back. Virginia is home.
Dan: Well, we’re all glad you’re here and look forward to reading Sweet Evil when it comes out and having you autograph dozens of copies for your fans. I see their responses on Facebook to you and I’m sure that’s very affirming for you and also for writers and potential writers.
Thank you for sharing with us today, and thank you for being with us on Extra Gravy from the Biscuit City studios today. I wish you well with your writing. You’ve been a delightful guest.
We’d love to have you back sometime and we’ll look for your book. We hope you have many more in the chute! Much success to you, and please tell us how we can get the book.
Wendy: At this time, all I know for certain is that Sweet Evil will be available in paperback and eBook from any online bookseller on May 1st, and can be preordered on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Dan: …I have one final question. If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? I would be a Brazilian rosewood tree because they are beautiful and their wood is used in high-end guitars.
Wendy: Er…um…hmm. I’m trying to think of short, emotional trees. J My favorites are weeping willows, and I think that’s fitting for me. So much can be hidden in their canopies, only to be seen by those who take the time to really look.
Dan: Wow, a metaphor that is also a parable. You certainly are an English major! Take care and keep writing!
We’ve been talking with Wendy Higgins, novelist, wife, and local resident.
This has been the Local Writer of the Week feature, brought to you on the Extra Gravy show on the Biscuit City Network. The Local Writer of the Week is a Harrison Bergeron Production and is sponsored by Sweet Gravy Brand Biscuit Gravy. Want to pick up the taste of your morning biscuit? Pour some Sweet Gravy Brand Biscuit Gravy on it and dig in! Why have a bland old boring biscuit when you can have a dessert biscuit? Life is uncertain—eat dessert first!
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This is Dan Verner, bidding you a fond adieu from the glass-enclosed nerve center of the Biscuit City Network until next time when we’ll talk to another local writer.