Question & Answers with Anita Higman
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for twenty-seven years. It’s been a long journey, a hard journey at times, but I’m glad I didn’t get off the train. During those many years, I had a variety of books published, mostly nonfiction, but the passion for writing novels never left me. When I first started this whole process, my kids were little. It became difficult to sit down and concentrate on writing, but I did find bits of time. Also, kids go to bed earlier than adults, so I used that block of time to write rather than watch television. Now, empty nest is here, so I have even more time to write.
When did you have your first success as a writer?
After several years of writing, I had some gradual success—books for children, books of one-act plays, and nonfiction for women. These successes were enough to keep me going toward my ultimate goal, which was to write novels.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I do so many oddball things that narrowing it down to one is difficult. But my husband seemed to think my Tibetan Monk story might be a good one to share. Many years ago I was taking my kids along with another mom and her kids to visit a local museum for the day. In the midst of our milling around the exhibits, we ran across a cluster of Tibetan Monks with their long robes, sandals, and shaved heads. I thought, “They look kind of lonely. What if a Christian mom with her kids left her comfort zone and went over to say hello?” Well, that turned out to be a good idea, since they were very friendly and seemed to be just waiting for someone to reach out with a smile. We all, including the monks, ended up taking turns standing with each other and snapping photos. It was an amazing few minutes I will never forget—two very different cultures colliding in joy. In fact, somewhere in our family albums I still have those pictures from that day at the museum of their happy faces mingled with ours.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
When I was a girl I tried writing a story about a man from Mars who came to earth to live an ordinary life in New York. Well, the idea was good, but I didn’t get too far, since I had no idea what I was doing! But I wish someone would have said, “Hey, Anita, of course this stinks. It’s your first effort. Keep writing, and you’ll get better.” But no one said that, so I gave up writing from many years. I was about thirty years old before I took up the dream with some serious effort. So, I suppose the answer to your question is, I did have the desire to become a writer from an early age, but I didn’t really discover I could write until I was in my early thirties.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
All kinds of books, but a few I’ve really enjoyed are: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Romance of the Forest, Peace Like a River, Pride and Prejudice, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Woman in White. Also, I’m a big fan of B.J. Hoff. She’s a great writer.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
It is hard, since writing, speaking, and promotion can take up a lot of time. Not to mention, trying to keep one’s website current and interesting! There are just not enough hours in the day to get it all done. But one way to regain some of those hours during the week is to shut off the TV. That’s helped me a lot. On the weekend, when I do treat myself to some rented movies, I multitask, which means I might be ironing, or sewing, or bleaching my teeth at the same time I’m watching a film.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
In the past I used a baby name book, but now there are sites on the Internet that will generate names. A name is so important. It’s like the title of the book. I can’t get started until I’m pleased with the title and the names of the characters.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Raising my kids and watching them become fine Christian young people.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I suppose a dog, since they get loved on and don’t have to put up with being caged at the zoo. Hope that doesn’t say too much about my personality.
What is your favorite food?
Dark chocolate truffles!
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
This business can be very discouraging. You need tremendous patience, or you’ll lose your marbles. So, it helps to go into the writing profession knowing it is a long and winding journey. If you jump in the business with the either the motivation of quick fame or money you’ll just set yourself up for aggravation and disappointment. But if you feel called to write no matter the weather, then you’ll be able to deal with the ups and downs of the business. Think of writing as a long-term, passionate endeavor—the love of a lifetime. Everything will go much easier that way.