Wednesday, August 05, 2009

with Rick Higginson

Welcome to Patterings, Rick! Sorry to put you on such a pink page. :)

Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.
I’ve loved writing and wanted to be a writer since I was a teen-ager. During High School, a group of us that wanted to write were privileged to attend a seminar with Richard Armour, during which he warned us of the difficulties of making a living as a writer. One of the things he warned us about was the danger that writing for our livelihood was that it could quickly take the joy out of writing for us.

Cardan’s Pod was actually the second novel-length manuscript I wrote. I’d had the idea for probably close to ten years, and had made a few false starts on the story. I knew how the story should start, how I wanted it to end, and the general plot between. I just didn’t know how to tie it all together. Then, one night in 2004, I had one of those “epiphany moments” which became something of a keystone scene in the book. After that, I couldn’t write it fast enough.

The story originally ran as a serialized novel in an online magazine, Collector Times. I think I knew from the time I finished the first draft that this story had a lot of potential, and that God’s hand was on it far more than I had realized during the writing.

Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite? 
I think Lana’s Pack was the most fun, since it was the first novel I wrote where I set a great deal of the action in real locations. I did a lot of research online with resources like Google Earth and municipal websites to get a better feel for locations I hadn’t visited before, or hadn’t been to in years. The titular ‘pack’ was also fun to write, since it required not just thinking like different characters, but also getting into the mind of a different species.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Typically, time. Sometimes, I can get some writing done on break or lunch at work, and sometimes I end up staying up late in the evening writing. It might sound a bit too simplistic, but about the one sure-fire key to overcoming time constraints on writing is to just make the effort to carve out writing time – even if it’s just a little – and write.

Which character most interested you while you wrote?
Marta very quickly became one of my favorite characters of all of the ones I’ve written. When I first envisioned the story, I imagined her as happy and content with her lot in life. As the story developed, though, and I spent more time getting into her character, I realized that the drama of her struggling against those things she had no control over was very much a mirror of our own such anxieties. The excerpt I chose is very much the heart of the story, and Chapter 12 ends with Marta asking Josh what it is like to be human. I wonder, sometimes, just how many of us have asked some form of that question at one time or another.

I really hope the reader hears her voice in that scene even half as much as I do.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I’ve done a number of unusual things. When Nancy and I were dating, we played a bit of mime, even going out to random places in make-up. I’m not sure if that’s more or less quirky than dressing up as Gandalf’s jealous younger brother, Hoomi, and going places like Ren Fairs and Comic Con.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Don’t we all? Confronting people is really one of my worst dreads. I hate conflict.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I’ve read all kinds, including even a romance novel or two. Speculative Fiction tends to be my favorite, because the imagination that goes into well-written futuristic novels very much appeals to me. I’ve read many of Tom Clancy’s novels, and I truly admire his ability to present the reader with seemingly random storylines that he ties all together by the end. Frank Peretti really opened my eyes to the possibilities within Christian Fiction, and especially some of his later novels which ventured outside the typical genre box.

It may not be the most popular thing to say, but I enjoyed the Harry Potter books. For “children’s stories,” I found them engagingly written and entertaining. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Lewis’ Narnia stories have been favorites for years. Right now, I have a stack of Kathy Reich’s books waiting to be read.

Are there certain foods or snacks that keep the words flowing for you?
I’ve joked that Marta and Eva got me to write their story by locking me in a room and providing me with Snickers candy bars and Diet Pepsi. The Snickers and Diet Pepsi part isn’t really a joke.

What is the most important thing to you?
Well, I would say God, but I don’t think of Him as a ‘thing.’ My faith in Him has to be the most important thing in my life, and I hope if it ever comes down to having to make a choice, I’ll have the strength to live that without compromise. Nancy and my family come next after God, and next to Messiah, I consider them the greatest proof of God’s love for me.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
The theme of the moral and social dangers of humans playing God runs throughout all the stories in the Pod series. With our science and technology, we are developing capabilities that we may not be able to truly comprehend the ramifications of. In recent news, there was talk of creating human/animal hybrids in England for medical research or organ donors. It might sound noble and life-saving to create, say, pigs with human hearts and livers, but where do we draw the line? What technology have we created that we haven’t also perverted in various ways?

The consequences of our arrogance aren’t always going to be “end of the world” type scenarios. When we start creating designer humans, we are going to have to address the question of who decides. If we are going to presume to stand in the stead of Omniscient God, then we are going to be making decisions for an unborn child that they will have no choice but to live with, and we are not going to know how they will react until it is too late to do anything about it.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
Something that has been running through my mind a lot lately has been the concept that our sin is rarely the product of a single decision or moment. We like to think of sin as something we “fall into,” but He has been stressing to me more and more that it’s something we walk into. If we look objectively at most of our failings, we can identify multiple places in the process where we could have repented and turned away from the sin before we committed it. Just like King David – he looked at Bat Sheba, then inquired after her, then met with her, and then slept with her. He didn’t just stroll out on his balcony, catch a glimpse of her, and poof! find himself committing adultery with her. He might have started out thinking innocently enough, but at some point before they went to his bedchamber, he had to know he was on the wrong path, and chose to stay on it.

If that could happen to someone called “a man after God’s own heart,” then it could happen to me, and it could happen to any of us. The circumstances and the sin might be different, but the point remains the same. We have to recognize when we are on the path to failure, and make the conscious effort to turn back from that, and to stay turned back from it. We need to quit sugar-coating it by making it sound like something accidental, like tripping and falling into a mud puddle, and admit that we saw the puddle, we went to it, and dove right in.

You're so right, Rick, we often do make the choice because we do right from wrong. Very good point--thanks for sharing that with us! I like your ponderings. :)
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

As far as being due out, that’s indeterminate. I suppose it would help, too, if I knew which I wanted to push hardest. There are currently two sequels and two spin-offs from Cardan’s Pod, but since Cardan’s Pod is self-published (having run as a serialized novel online, most publishers consider it previously published and wouldn’t even consider it), it may be a while before I dive into getting the second book in the series, Marta’s Pod, published.

Right now, I think my most recently completed novel, Precocious by Design, is the one I want to shop around to traditional publishers. The story deals with a murder investigation that finds the victim was paedomorphic, meaning she was an adult with juvenile characteristics. It has some rather dark elements to the plot, but it also has some of the most explicit Christian messages I’ve written so far. I entered the story in the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest, and received some very insightful feedback on it. My plan is to do another revision pass on the story, incorporating some of those observations, and then start submitting it to publishers. I already have a sequel in work, as my characters often won’t leave me alone until I continue their stories.

I believe we are seeing changes in the Christian fiction market, and the opportunities for writers ready to offer solid, well-written stories are going to be there. I pray that God will grant me the blessing of being one of them.


You can purchase Cardan's Pod from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Thanks so much for taking the time to be with us, Rick. I've looked forward to having you here for several months now!

Next week we kick off our Back 2 School Book Bonanza and there will be 3 author spotlights and book giveaways each week. Thursday is nonfiction day, so that will be a treat for us. Be sure to join us then!

This week Rick is giving away a copy of Cardan's Pod. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment and check back on Sunday, August 9th to see if you've won. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar. You can enter twice--once for each post you leave a comment on. :-)

8 comments:

  1. This sounds like a very interesting book, since it encompasses issues happening today. Please enter me for this book. Thank you.
    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  2. No problem about the pink page, Peej. I'm secure enough in my masculinity that it doesn't bother me.

    Thank you for the spotlight!

    (Now, I just need to get caught up on Friday Fiction...)

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  3. Anonymous1:52 PM

    Great interview, Hoomi! I really liked it. I would love to win one of your books. Please enter me in the giveaway. Thanks, Esther
    faith4u7(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Fascinating stuff - and I would, of course, LOVE to be entered (again :D). I'm definitely a Hoomi fan!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous8:06 AM

    I love learning about the authors that write good books and this one was fun. Please enter me again, Abby

    ReplyDelete
  6. Loved the interview! Good job Peej & Hoomi! I didn't know about the snicker's bar and diet pepsi. LOL. Okay, okay, I didn't know about the rest of everything either-a wonderful interview! Glad to know you a little more, Hoomi. ^_^

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  7. That was a fantastic interview! And I agree with Patty--I like your ponderings, Hoomi :)

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  8. Anonymous6:09 PM

    Oooohhh! We don't 'fall into sin', we walk into it. Such truth and I'd never thought of it quite like that. Leaves me with something to ponder all day.
    Thanks Peej for interviewing Hoomi, and thanks Hoomi for telling me what's missing from my writing... diet Pepsi and Snickers.
    Esther G (again, not the other one...)
    e_gellert at yahoo dot com dot au

    ReplyDelete

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