Monday, November 17, 2014

INTERVIEW WITH LISA VERGE HIGGINS

Interview with
Lisa Verge Higgins






Before I start the interview with Lisa Verge Higgins, a noted award winning author, I want to introduce her a little.  I have had the opportunity of participating in book club reads, through Barnes & Nobles, of Lisa’s first three Women’s Fiction books, then under another venue hosted by The Reading Frenzy and Debbie Haupt, participated in her fourth book read. 

When you are reading a book over a month and discussing it at length with multiple women and the author things can get lively.  They did.  Lisa’s intellect and sense of humor quickly came out as at times keyboards burned with interactions between the participants and Lisa as we discussed the foibles of the characters in the book.  Shared laughter and tears made the circles on many occasions because we could identify with Lisa’s characters.  They could have been us or our husbands or boyfriends.  We all came to love Lisa dearly and the reading group grew with the reads, but few left.

It is with great joy, and much pride that I am privileged to introduce Lisa Verge Higgins you.  I hope that you get to know her in this interview and come to love her as much as I have, as you read her books.  And now for an interview about Lisa’s favorite book (and one of mine) and other tidbitsl

Lisa, welcome to Blogging Under the Shade Tree and Shade Tree Book Reviews.  We are so glad to have you with us today.  Could you tell us a little about your favorite novel, The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship?

I’d love to!  Proper Care is about adventurer Rachel Braun, one of those crazy live-in-the-moment women who arranges, in the event of her death, to have pre-written letters forwarded to her best friends—letters that challenge them to face their biggest fears.  Sarah, an international relief worker, is compelled to track down the only man she ever loved. Stay-at-home mom Kate must confront her fear of heights by skydiving and soon finds that her new hobby is affecting her once-tranquil marriage. And Jo, a media mogul voted “least likely to breed,” is given the most terrifying assignment of all: caring for Rachel’s orphaned and grieving little girl.
 Why did you choose The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship as your favorite of all your novels?

Honestly, I feel a little uneasy confessing that I have a favorite among seventeen novels, but I admit I suffer from “Precious Firstborn Syndrome.”  Proper Care was my very first novel of women’s fiction, and it’s particularly special to me because it was almost never born. 

Some of your readers may know that after my wicked past writing romances, I took a ten-year hiatus to raise my three daughters.  When I finally picked up my pen again, what came out of that rush of inspiration was the story that would become Proper Care.  A decade had passed since I’d been involved in the publishing world and many of my contacts had moved on, so like many mothers coming back into the workplace, I had to start anew.  I tried to sell the story for two years, getting lots of nibbles but no real bites.  Demoralized, I’d decided to dust off my chemistry degree and look for real work.

As sometimes happens in these instances, the Universe intervened.  I happened to see an opportunity to attend a speed-pitching session with a local writer’s group. To make the meeting would require an immense amount juggling and shuffling—a mother of three active girls always works on Saturdays.  I almost didn’t go, resigned that it Wasn’t Meant To Be.  But I took a deep breath, gathered the last of my heart, and with the generous help of friends willing to take over my schedule . . . I just did it.  It was there that I met my future editor, who loved my pitch and bought Proper Care within a week.

It’s no coincidence that in One Good Friend Deserves Another, Friendship Makes The Heart Grow Fonder, and even Random Acts of Kindness, my characters tend to leap off of cliffs (or bridges, or rocks). It’s one of the major themes: Great change often involves leaps of faith, and a willingness to break through fear in order to grow.

A chemist? Seriously?

Yeah, I know! When I first started writing novels, I was still studying for a Ph.D in organic chemistry. I loved teaching and research, but at the time I wanted to do something creative, too.  So I started writing a novel on the side.  Within a year I shocked my lab-mates by selling that book, and then over the next few years I sold more.  Eventually, I had to make the difficult decision of choosing between being a chemist or a writer.  It was one of those leaps of faith.  I’ve never regretted the decision.

As an interesting aside, my eldest daughter has a degree in physics, and she just sold three science fiction novels to Random House!  The first, Equation of State, is coming out in August 2015.  So the nut doesn’t fall very far from the tree....


Do you have any interesting anecdotes about writing the book?

Because Proper Care is quite different from my earlier books—which were all sexy, adventurous romances—this was the first of my novels that I allowed my (older) teenage daughters to read. 

After my middle daughter finished the book, she told me, quite bluntly, that it “made her curious about my sex life.” 

I said, “Honey, I’m your mother.  I don’t have a sex life.”
 
Where do you get your ideas?

I suspect there’s an “idea miasma” around us at all times, and those who are attuned to it—writers, painters, musicians—pull inspiration from the webbing all the time.  We take it this source for granted, which is why the question always pulls us up short.

One thing is for sure:  Women’s lives and women’s friendships are themes that thrum through all my stories, mostly because at this stage of life those issues have become close to my heart.  The books that I’ve been writing about lately involve a group of twelve women who went to high school together in the little Adirondack town of Pine Lake.  I’m having a wonderful time focusing on a small community of women who have been scattered about, and are only now starting to realize the importance of old friends.  Random Acts of Kindness is the first in the series—about a woman-in-distress who commits an act of generosity that comes back to her in ways she could never have expected. 

I dedicated that book to my mother, who took in foster children while I was growing up.  At various times in my childhood, there’d be six or seven kids sleeping in our little cape house. I just took this for granted. I didn’t really understand the magnitude of her generosity and kindness until I was older and had kids of my own.  Now I stand in awe of what she did for so many souls.

What are you working on now?

I’m thrilled to announce that my next book, Senseless Acts of Beauty, is now available for pre-order in anticipation of its March 10, 2015 publication date. Senseless Acts of Beauty takes up the story of two more Pine Lake women, one of whom is the notorious Tess Hendrick whose fate was left a mystery in Random Acts of Kindness. 

Tess has a secret: For fifteen years she has been furtively following the life of the daughter she gave up as an infant for adoption. But when Sadie runs away from home determined to find her birth mother, Tess has no choice but to hunt down the desperate girl in the one place she dreads—Pine Lake, where a terrible, buried secret threatens to destroy them both.

My editor and critique group have said that this is the most emotionally intense novel of the group.  I just finished proofreading the pages before it goes to press, and I still well up with happy tears when I read the ending.

As always, Lisa, you have been generous in sharing with our readers some of true meat of your work.  I personally look forward to once again reading your next offering to women’s fiction.  Each of your books, to date, have spoke to this reader and blogger.  You are a true joy to visit with.  Thank you for being here.

Awwwww.... thanks so much!  The pleasure has been all mine! 
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 In the coming weeks look for book reviews at Blogging Under the Shade Tree
and Shade Tree Book Reviews for books reviews on all of Lisa’s Women’s fiction collection.