I have professed my adoration for Kristan Higgins, and I’ll do it again…I love Kristan Higgins! Her books always make me laugh, and she always seems so down-to-earth, even though she has published widely (and has had her books translated into more than twenty languages…Wow!). Here she gives advice to newly published and aspiring writers, and she reminds us all that even for award-winning romance writers, the writing process can be frustrating. After reading this interview, you’ll want to hang in there and keep going!
Kristan Higgins is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, USA TODAY and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and a two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages and received numerous starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, Kirkus and Romantic Times. She is a four-time nominee for The Kirkus Prize for best work of fiction.
What was your biggest challenge with publishing your debut novel?
I think it was patience. I wrote what I thought was a really good book, but no one seemed to care! (I laugh now, writing that…I had no idea how publishing worked back then.) So when I did get an agent, I was impatient to get a sale, and when the book came out, I was impatient to have people read it, and then I was dying for more people to read it. My agent kept saying, “This is a marathon, my dear, not a sprint.” She was right, of course.
How have you dealt with that challenge as you have published more?
Now my impatience comes with myself. I wonder why I’m not faster at writing (I write two books a year); why my first drafts are still so crappy, why my books don’t just come to me in dreams. But with every passing year, I find that I accept that more. It’s just part of the process, and the process changes.
What would you have done differently if you could start all over again?
Nothing. Really! Not one thing, because every mistake and bump in the road taught me something. Rather than say, “Well, that was a waste of time!” I try to say, “Well, that was a waste of time…how can I make sure I don’t do that again?”
How has the market changed since you first published?
Self-publishing and e-books were just getting started when my first book came out in November 2006, so there really was only one way to get published, and that was with a big publisher. Now, readers have so many choices, and writers do, too. Genre-wise, the market back then was all about vampires and SEALs and billionaires and famous people. Then came the small towns and the regular folks, which seem to be dominating the market now. Everything is cyclical; I think it’s important for writers to go with the stories they love and not worry about what’s selling now. It shows if you’re writing something you don’t really love.
How has your life changed as you have published more books?
It’s gotten a lot busier! I work every day, which is not something I want to do, but if I don’t open the computer, I have that much more work the next day. I travel a lot, which is great. And I think I’m happier; I love doing this, and I never expected to be here, so every day is a happy shock.
What is the single most important thing an aspiring writer should do?
Believe in yourself, and get over yourself. You can do this, you can get there, you can be a success…but you can’t think you’re the best thing since Nora Roberts. You may have to work ten times as hard as the next writer. You may have to write twenty books before you get picked up by a publisher or strike the right chord with readers. But it can be done. Every successful author is living proof of that.
What is the single most important thing a newly published writer should do?
Keep writing books. Don’t focus so much on marketing and promoting; just keep your head down and write your books.
Where is the best place to go for writing advice?
Can I say “your heart”? It sounds so cheesy, but honestly, all the breakthrough moments I’ve had have been when I’m alone, pondering, wondering, agonizing. And then I figure it out. It might take an hour, it might take a week, but somewhere in my heart or brain, the answer is there.
Do you have a favorite debut author? If so, who?
Sonali Dev. A Bollywood Affair was so rich and lush and funny and engaging, and the voice! Sonali’s voice is breathtakingly original. I’m reading her second book now (A Bollywood Bride, which comes out in September), and it’s amazing.
Higgins’ newest release comes out August 25, 2015.
Letting go of her ex-husband is harder than wedding-dress designer Jenny Tate expected…especially since his new wife seems to want to be Jenny’s new best friend. Sensing this isn’t helping her move on, Jenny trades the Manhattan skyline for her hometown up the Hudson, where she’ll start her own business and bask in her sister Rachel’s picture-perfect family life…and maybe even find a little romance of her own with Leo, her downstairs neighbor, a guy who’s utterly irresistible and completely distant at the same time.
Unfortunately, Rachel’s idyllic marriage is imploding after she discovers her husband sexting with a colleague. She always thought she’d walk away in this kind of situation, but her three daughters have her reconsidering, much to Jenny’s surprise. Rachel points to their parents’ perfect marriage as a shining example; to protect her sister, Jenny may have to tarnish that memory—and their relationship—and reveal a family secret she’s been keeping since childhood.
Both Rachel and Jenny will have to come to terms with the past and the present, and find a way to get what they want most of all.