Friday, March 11, 2011
I love this question, simply because I write in so many genres! Children's picture books, like Go Away, Dark Night, speak to a far broader audience than the genre might suggest, since they're read aloud by teachers, parents, grandparents, librarians, babysitters—the list goes on and on. One little story can reach lots of hearts! I write nonfiction books because I love exploring God's Word and helping my readers do the same, with titles like Bad Girls of the Bible and Embrace Grace. I write historical novels like Here Burns My Candle and Mine Is the Night because detailed historical research and storytelling are both pure joy for me, and because character-driven novels are a way to reach my sisters in Christ who share my passion for fiction.
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
The day I married my wonderful husband, Bill Higgs! As it happens, we will celebrate our silver anniversary on March 14, 2011, the day before Mine Is the Night releases. We were a bit older than some couples when we married (32 and 34), yet it was a first marriage for both of us. We always say we looked for each other collectively for 66 years! Believe me, he was SO worth the wait. What a good and godly man I found!
Congratulations to you and Bill. How has being published changed your life?
It's tempting to say, "Only the Lord can change a life," because that's the truth of it. Still, being published has in fact changed my day-to-day life by expanding the number of women with whom I can share God's love and grace. It's both wonderful and daunting to think in terms of ministering to thousands of audience members, and tens of thousands of readers. I so want to be fully available to all the many sisters who ask for prayer, for encouragement, for direction, yet I am limited by time and resources, as we all are. I do my very best to be approachable on Facebook and Twitter, via my website and snail mail. And I remind myself daily that Jesus had time for a bleeding woman. It's my heart's desire to follow his lead and make time for those around me who certainly deserve my attention, all the while meeting the needs of my family and keeping the promises I've made to my publisher.
Yes, that's a balance that we all have to work toward. What are you reading right now?
I just finished reading a fabulous novel releasing in June 2011, Thief by Linda Windsor, an historical set in late sixth-century Scotland during the time of King Arthur. It's truly wonderful! And I'm in the middle of reading another very promising historical coming out in August 2011, To Die For by Sandra Byrd, set in sixteenth-century England during the Tudor period. So well done! Next up is Julie Lessman's September 2011 novel, A Heart Revealed, set in Boston in the 1930s (practically a contemporary for me!). Can't wait to get started on that one.
When we're reading books for endorsement, which I've done a couple of times since the first of the year too, it's a thrill to see what God is doing with other author's works. What is your current work in progress?
After writing two historical novels, I'm returning to nonfiction with a verse-by-verse look at the story I’ve been immersed in for the last five years: the book of Ruth! Like my Bad Girls of the Bible series, my next nonfiction book will filter solid, biblical research through a storyteller’s lens, yet with an entirely different approach than I've done before. And did I mention it will be fun?! Look for that one in Summer 2012.
I'd love to feature that on this blog. I do occasional nonfiction books. What would be your dream vacation?
Spending May and June traveling through the Celtic lands—Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall, Wales, Brittany—staying at different B&Bs from week to week, meeting people from around the world, while soaking up all that lovely history. "Dream" is the right word for it—we could never afford so extended a vacation!—but it's grand to imagine it.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Eugene Peterson, author of The Message. His body of work reveals incredible wisdom, a pastor's heart, and boundless gifts as a writer and teacher. I'd love to simply sit at his feet and hear his thoughts on the Church today, on discipleship, on writing, on ministry, and on how we might best serve the Lord with gladness.
And I love the music that he's written as well as using The Message for devotional reading. What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
Traveling, whether near or far, camera in hand. Visiting botanical gardens, art museums, and historic properties. Watching movies, especially period films. Lunching with friends. Curling up with my cat or my husband or both.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
In writing novels I sometimes struggle with drawing out leading ladies who won't talk to me. Despite my best efforts to flesh out a main character's personality, to understand her back story, to sort out her goals and motives, sometimes my female protagonists refuse to bare their souls on the page. Secondary and bit characters appear without any real work on my part. From their first words I see and hear them, pick up on their mannerisms, and grasp what makes them tick. But my heroines are far harder for me to pin down—unless they're Bad Girls, of course. That kind of woman I get! To overcome this obstacle, I interview my characters at length, like a counselor might question a patient: prodding at tender spots, looking for vulnerabilities. I'm often surprised at what my characters reveal in such sessions, and how much their honesty affects me. Then I simply get out of their way and let them step into the light, flaws and all.
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Read great books, the surest method for writing better books yourself. Attend writers conferences, where it's wise to do more listening than talking. Join the Christian Writers Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, a local writing group—whatever your calendar and budget can afford. Finally, write every day. Force yourself to stay on task until you have a respectable number of words written. If you have only an evening, that might be 300-500 words. If you have all day, your goal might be 1,000-1,500 words. Every write works at his own pace. The key is to find your rhythm and keep it going. Every day. Every day. Every day.
Tell us about the featured book.
The emotional and spiritual journey that began with Here Burns My Candle soars to a glorious finish in Mine Is the Night, a dramatic and decidedly Scottish retelling of the biblical love story of Boaz and Ruth, transported to eighteenth-century Selkirkshire.
Reeling from the aftermath of bonny Prince Charlie's disastrous bid to reclaim the British throne, Marjory Kerr and her daughter-in-law, Elisabeth, have lost everything they hold dear—husbands, sons, houses, titles, and possessions. But they have not lost hope.
With only the Almighty and each other to depend upon, Marjory and Elisabeth discover they are stronger and more resourceful than they’d imagined. So is the God they love and serve, and the heroic kinsman he brings their way. A timeless tale of redemption and restoration, Mine Is the Night serves up an ending that isn’t merely happy—it’s transcendent.
Your books are always amazing, and this one is as well. Please give us the first page of the book.
Foul whisperings are abroad.
26 April 1746
The distant hoofbeats were growing louder.
Elisabeth Kerr quickly pushed aside the curtain and leaned out the carriage window. A cool spring rain, borne on a blustery wind, stung her cheeks. She could not see the riders on horseback, hidden by the steep hill behind her. But she could hear them galloping hard, closing the gap.
Her mother-in-law seemed unconcerned, her attention drawn to the puddle forming at their feet. A frown creased her brow. “Do you mean for us to arrive in Selkirk even more disheveled than we already are?” Three long days of being jostled about in a cramped and dirty coach had left Marjory Kerr in a mood as foul as the weather.
“’Tis not the rain that concerns me.” Elisabeth resumed her seat, feeling a bit unsteady. “No ordinary traveling party would ride with such haste.”
Marjory’s breath caught. “Surely you do not think—”
Had they not heard the rumors at every inn and coaching halt? King George’s men were scouring the countryside for anyone who’d aided bonny Prince Charlie in his disastrous bid to reclaim the British throne for the long-deposed Stuarts. Each whispered account was worse than the last. Wounded rebel soldiers clubbed to death. Houses burned with entire families inside. Wives and daughters ravished by British dragoons.
Help us, Lord. Please. Elisabeth slipped her arm round her mother-in-law’s shoulders as she heard the riders crest the hill and bear down on them.
“We were almost home,” Marjory fretted.
“The Lord will rescue us,” Elisabeth said firmly, and then they were overtaken. A male voice cut through the rain-soaked air, and the carriage jarred to a halt.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Free e-newsletters: http://www.LizCurtisHiggs.com/newsletters.htm
Travel Photos: http://www.Flickr.com/LizCurtisHiggs/sets
Here is a list of Liz's current books in print in addition to Mine Is the Night:
NonfictionBad Girls of the Bible, 2004 ECPA Gold Book Award
Really Bad Girls of the Bible, Publishers Weekly Starred Review
Unveiling Mary Magdalene, Publishers Weekly Starred Review
Rise and Shine: Encouragement to Start Your Day
Embrace Grace, 2007 Retailers Choice Award Winner
My Heart's in the Lowlands: Ten Days in Bonny Scotland
Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible, 2008 Retailers Choice Award Winner
Video Bible Study
Loved by God, Now in 4,000 churches
The Pumpkin Patch Parable, 1998 Gold Medallion Award Winner
The Parable of the Lily, 1998 Gold Medallion Award Winner
The Sunflower Parable, 1998 Gold Medallion Award Winner
The Pine Tree Parable, 1998 Gold Medallion Award Winner
Go Away, Dark Night
Mixed Signals, 2000 Rita Award Finalist
Bookends, 2001 Christy Award Finalist
Thorn in My Heart, Christian Fiction Bestseller
Fair Is the Rose, Christian Fiction Bestseller
Whence Came a Prince, 2006 Christy Award Winner
Grace in Thine Eyes, 2007 Christy Award Finalist
Here Burns My Candle, 2010 RT Book Reviews Award Finalist
Thank you, Liz, for spending this time with us.
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