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Monday, April 14, 2008

Revisiting ~ Anita Higman

Award winning author Anita Higman has twenty books published for adults and children, with five more releasing soon. She has also contributed to nine nonfiction compilations and was selected as a Barnes & Noble "Author of the Month" for Houston.

When we last talked you were promoting a novella for Barbour's romance line. You've changed directions in genre, please tell us about your newest project.

First, I’d like to say how much I’ve enjoyed Novel Journey over the years. It’s been entertaining, informative, and inspiring! I have a series of cozy mysteries coming out through Barbour Publishing. These cozies are part of a new book club through Barbour, but they’re longer than the Heartsong romances. My first mystery is entitled, Another Stab at Life, and it’s the first in a trilogy entitled, The Volstead Manor Series. The overall tone of these mysteries is best described as gothic light with a chick-lit flair.

Your books are part of a series. Is writing a series more difficult than writing a stand-alone novel?

The answer is yes and no. In one way, writing a series is easier because I know my characters really well, and I know what each of them will do when tossed into various emotional tumblers. However, I get slowed down as soon as I’m forced to think about how much back story to include from the last novel and where to place it. And I have to constantly ask myself if I’m keeping the story fresh, or if I’m repeating myself, which would make certain elements come off annoyingly repetitious—like right now! When I weigh everything, I think the series is a little harder for me to write than the stand-alone.

Is planning a mystery (let alone a series!) hard? What do you do to simplify the task?

Well, when planning a mystery, I suddenly feel as if my brain is rattling around in my head like a dried-up little nut. In other words, the whole process of setting up a mystery puzzle and writing it out so that it’s believable and fun and unique and decipherable without being too elementary is not an easy process for me. Before the mysteries, I had written romance, so I understood novel writing in general. However, I quickly discovered that mysteries have some unique challenges. How do I simplify the process? One way is to write the story all the way through without obsessing over every detail, knowing that I can go back and fix things later. I can always add more clues or another red herring. Also, it helps to work out a firm writing schedule. For instance, I know now that it’s best for me to write one chapter per weekday. That means it will take me approximately six weeks to write the rough draft. Then once I have the draft, it will take me about two months to polish it.

Could you tell us what authors and genres you most enjoy and whether or not they have influenced your writing?

Early in my career, I fell in love with the writings of Horton Foote. Many of his plays could be described as heart-tugging family dramas. But now years later, I’m fascinated with the work of Ann Radcliffe and Jane Austen. Ann Radcliffe’s gothic novels have influenced my work, but what is much more fascinating is that Ann’s work influenced Jane Austen. Ms. Austen refers to Ann Radcliffe’s novel, Romance of the Forest within her own novel, Emma. Also, Jane Austen wrote the gothic-style novel, Northanger Abbey, which is an affectionate spoof of Ann Radcliffe’s novel, The Mysteries of Udolpho.

Marketing is probably an author’s least favorite task. Do you have any tips on marketing?

I’m not a great lover of marketing, but I do it, since I know it can help book sales and because I want to show my publisher that I’m willing to be a team-player when it comes to promotion. One way to keep things interesting is to experiment with new approaches to marketing. Recently, I decided to hire a company to create a book trailer. I was fortunate enough to hear about Circle of Seven Productions, and I think they did a marvelous job. If you’re interested in seeing the book trailer COS created for my mystery, Another Stab at Life, please feel free to hop over to to check it out.

What encouragment can you offer others who look to become published?

I’m into the three Ps—practice, persistence, and patience. Even if you’re born with some natural talent, practice is vital, just as it is with learning the oboe or the backstroke or the foxtrot. You’ll need persistence. (I have a friend who wrote eight full-length novels before she was finally published. Now that’s persistence!) You’ll also need a boatload of patience because the whole writing, submitting, and waiting process can take a serious chunk of your time. But most of all, talk to God every morning about your writing. Ask Him to guide you in your planning phase, your rough draft, and in your revisions. That’s the best advice I have. Well, thanks for inviting me back to Novel Journey. It’s always an honor!


  1. Anita! Good to see you over here again. Great advice, btw. Will I see you at ACFW in Sept?

  2. Wow, Anita, you really challenged me. A rough draft in six weeks?? Guess I'd better polish up my pen and get to work!

    Great interview, gal.

  3. I'm really looking forward to getting your book, Anita. I just love the variety of these Heartsong Mysteries. I think that's the best thing about them. Yours sounds like yet anough fun direction.

  4. Hi Gina,

    Glad to be back on Novel Journey! I'm not certain if I'll be at the AFCW conference in September, but I hope to.

    Anita Higman

  5. Hi Elizabeth!

    Thanks for stopping by to read my interview! Yes, I'm able to do a rough draft in six to eight weeks, but I also give that same manuscript about two months of polish. So, maybe you shouldn't be super impressed with my speed:)

    Anita Higman

  6. Greetings, Mary,

    Thanks for leaving a comment. I hope you enjoy Another Stab at Life. Let me know. You have my email address. Of course, if it turns out you hate it, I'm not sure I really want to know:)

    Anita Higman

  7. I shared your three Ps with my online writing group. We've been chatting about persistence lately. Add Prayer and that's four Ps! Jane Austen is one of my favorites. Thank you for sharing your experiences and for your encouragement.


  8. To Johnnie and the word chicks,

    Thanks for dropping by Novel Journey today for my interview. And thanks for adding that "P" for prayer to my list. Best wishes and keep writing!

    Anita Higman


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