Find a Christian store

Interview With Anita Higman

She's an award winning author with 23 books published for adults and children and was selected as a Barnes & Noble "Author of the Month" for Houston. Accomplished in the realm of nonfiction as well, Anita Higman joins us this month to talk about her book, Another Stab at Life, and its soon to be released sequel, Another Hour to Kill.

Anita, share with us a little about the premise of these stories, and what lead you to write the Volstead Manor Series?

All three novels in the Volstead Manor Series are not only cozy mysteries, but are gothic in tone. I'm sure my idea to make an ancient mansion as a centerpiece for all three books came from growing up in a rather creepy, one-hundred-year-old farmhouse. We had bats in the attic, murky shadows and dank smells in the cellar, an old-fashioned, inferno-style floor furnace in the kitchen, and a snake that rose up like a cobra to corner me in the basement. There was also a secret place under the floorboards where the former owner of the house must have kept his money hidden. Or treasure. Or whatever else needed concealing. Funny thing, hiding places and secret passageways also show up in the old mansion that is featured in my mysteries.

The name of my fictional mansion comes from Prohibition-The Volstead Act of 1919-and even though this series is contemporary, the dark history of the house is connected to that era. I suppose I've always been intrigued with that period of time in American history, but more than that, I've always been fascinated with really old houses and their secrets.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey thus far?

Each step was significant. That's an easy answer, but it's true. Every rewrite I made, every book I read on the craft of writing, and each conference I attended brought me closer to my goal, which was to have folks read my stories and find them entertaining and inspiring.

How do you balance your writing time with other responsibilities?

Well, I never seem to have enough hours in the day to get everything done, so I've had to resort to multitasking. Timesaver experts might not love the idea, since it's hard to focus on two things at the same time and do them both well, but some activities just don't need a lot of concentration. For instance, on the weekend when I treat myself to a movie at home, I also iron clothes, bleach my teeth, or do my nails. Another way I save time is to cook enough food for several meals. If I'm making chicken, for instance, I bake enough for at least one more meal, and then I'll usually have enough leftover to put in the freezer for an emergency meal later in the month. The point is, when you're frugal with your time, you'll have more of it to do what you love, and that is to write.

And how do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture?

I have faith in Christ, and there's no doubt that it comes out in my work. Our worldview affects all that we do and say and everything we create. Even when people think they are faithless, they aren't. Even atheists have a belief system. So, whatever that person's spiritual walk is, it will be reflected in his or her work. So, when people complain that Christians have Christian books, well, I say, "What else can we create?" And if people think Christian books can be a bit preachy, I agree in some cases, but all books and all movies have a worldview. Every book and movie has a mini-sermon attached to it-and those lectures are there because the writer-creator had a passion about something. They felt compelled to share their convictions. So, it's only natural for Christians to infuse their belief-system into their art.

What would you describe as your biggest obstacle in writing and how do you overcome it?

The greatest obstacle I had to overcome was the belief that I could never be a writer. I had very little encouragement growing up, and so it was easy for me to set my dream aside, thinking it was for someone else. But at age thirty, I was sitting in my bedroom reading a novel when Providence came for a visit. In a mere flash of time the passion to write overpowered all of my doubts. I called out to my husband, saying, "I think I can do this!" And after that, I never turned back. I've been writing for twenty-five years.

What do you consider the highest moment of your writing/publishing career?

Writing a longer romance for Summerside Press was a great joy for me. Love Finds You in Humble, Texas will come out in February, 2009, and I hope you'll check it out.

Who/What is your greatest inspiration to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?

The music of Josh Groban has been known to animate my senses and inspire me. Also, when I read the classics, I always come away with fresh ideas. Of course, it's always mixed with a heavy dose of panic as I think, "How can I ever compete with such a masterpiece?" But once I get beyond that general writer's terror of gross incompetence, I can be inspired by great treasures like, Romance of the Forest, Oliver Twist, Pride and Prejudice, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Lord of the Rings.

As far as my characters and story ideas-they really do come from everywhere. I might be out running errands for an hour, and I'll get an idea at the grocery store. Since my mind tends to go into a drift-mode when I'm doing mindless tasks, my brain is free to ponder new ideas. By the way, it's always smart for a writer to have a pad and pen handy in the car, by the bed, etc, because you never know when inspiration is going to hit. Just make sure you don't write notes while operating a moving vehicle. Pull over and then scribble down those gems. But if you wait until you get home, they may disappear.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?

I'm not sure. I suppose that would be for the reader to decide. But I'm hoping that I create characters that readers will remember and love enough to want to invite them home for dinner. That's the way I feel about the people in my head. I'd love to go to a party and have them all show up. Watch them interact. See which ones might get into an argument or become lifelong friends. Or which ones might fall in love without my permission. The idea of meeting one's characters reminds me of the movie, Stranger Than Fiction. If you haven't seen it, you should. It's a fun film, particularity for writers.

Finish this question. My favorite kind of book to write is:

I enjoy writing romance with a bit of humor. I wouldn't call my books romantic comedy, because I also deal with some heavy issues, but I would say that they have enough humor to keep readers pleasantly entertained. At least that is my goal. Readers always have the final say.

Any parting words for up-and-coming writers?

Even though I know this advice has been overdone, I've found that it's worked for me-if you feel called to write, never give up. Sometimes, it's hard. I know. Starting out, I had my share of tears and frustration and screaming about the great injustice of it all. But honestly, if you are a writer, then you will write even as the rejections pile up. Even if the rejections get so high that you can barely get out of your office door. A fine revenge on that grotesque pile would be to come up with a character who feels rejection all the way to her bones. Write that story so soulfully that it becomes your first published work! Bottom line-the old saying still rings true-writers write.

Thanks for sharing with us, Anita!

You're very welcome. Thank you for allowing me to be a featured author this month. I've enjoyed answering your questions. I hope all of you have a merry Christmas!

For more great interviews, visit our Author Interview Archives.

ACFW Members, click here to apply for an author interview!

Developed by Camna, LLC

This is a service provided by ACFW, but does not in any way endorse any publisher, author, or work herein.