Mae Baldwin interviews inspirational writer Liz Curtis Higgs! **
LMB -- To start
with, could you tell us a little about your background?
Liz -- Like most
writers, I was a voracious reader as a child, and began writing novels at age 10. They
were awful, of course, but it was a beginning! I was editor of my high school paper, then
majored in English in college. Drama, writing, and music were all passions of mine from my
early teens on, and all have played a part in my career over the years.
LMB -- Before you
wrote you were a D.J. can you tell us a little about that?
Liz -- While in
college, I was a D.J. for our campus radio station, doing a
Sunday night program called
the "Jazz Junction." A broadcasting friend of mine heard me on the air, drove
down to the station and knocked on the
glass, and said, "You could make a living
doing this. Call this man at WQXA." I'd already knocked on the doors of several local
radio stations with no luck, but THIS time I got their attention. I went to work as the
overnight announcer at that station in PA in 1978 and soon moved up to the morning show,
then to Music Director, then to other stations in other markets, including Indianapolis
and Detroit. I finally landed a gig at WHAS here in Louisville, where I finished my radio
career a decade after I started. It was a fun ride! By the mid-1980s I was doing a ton of
public speaking (90 engagements in 1986), and so left radio to pursue a full-time speaking
career, as well as to marry and to give birth to our two dear kids. The writing came along
a few years later when I signed my first publishing contract in 1992 as my speaking career
was really taking off. I've done both writing and speaking ever since: 1500 presentations
to date, and 20 published books.
LMB -- Who are your
publishers and where can we find your books?
Liz -- My first
publisher for my funny nonfiction titles was Thomas Nelson Books. Then I did children's
books with Tommy Nelson Publishing, contemporary fiction with
"meatier" nonfiction with WaterBrook Press before turning to the writing I love
most, historical fiction, with the release of Thorn in My Heart.
LMB -- Your three
"Bad Girls of The Bible" books have done very well. How did you come up with the
idea and was it difficult to sell to the CBA?
Liz -- I've always
been fascinated by the women in Scripture, but must confess a stronger affinity with the
"bad girls," whose sins and weaknesses look so much like my own! The three
books--Bad Girls of the Bible, Really Bad Girls of the Bible, and Mad Mary: A Bad Girl
from Magdala--are an unusual combination of contemporary fiction and nonfiction Bible
study, and to date have combined sales of more than 500,000. As to selling it to a
Christian publisher, WaterBrook Press, got
the concept immediately.
LMB -- How does
your relationship with Jesus Christ affect your writing?
Liz -- It affects
everything I say, do, and think, and so my writing reflects that vital, life-changing
relationship as well. Because I'm an "FBG"--Former Bad Girl--I am ever aware of
my need for grace and mercy. When I encountered Christ in 1982, having hit bottom pursuing
a sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll lifestyle, the good news that I was loved "as
is" and forgiven completely changed everything for me. Though I stayed in radio for a
few more years, my desire to share what I'd discovered about God's grace soon led to
speaking, and then to writing. Ultimately it's all about pleasing God. I know if I honor
Him, I'm on the right track.
LMB -- I love the
personal warm style of your writing. Is there someone(s) you have in mind when you write?
Who is your audience?
Liz -- I write for
and about women because that's my true calling. Even my children's books were written with
mothers in mind. My fiction is definitely women's fiction. And my nonfiction books are
what I call "girlfriend theology," and are written to a woman's heart as well.
LMB -- What's a
typical writing day like for Liz?
Liz -- Long! :>)
Once our two teens take off for school, I head upstairs to my writing office. I spend the
morning editing what I wrote the day before, then press on to the next scene. I research
as I go and have to be careful not to get so wrapped up doing research that I neglect to
get any writing done! I take a short break for lunch, usually eating it at my desk, then
keep going until suppertime at
6pm. When I'm up against a deadline, I sometimes
write until midnight, but my goal is to quit before supper and join my family for the
evening. I have daily word count goals that keep me in my chair; otherwise I might never
finish a book!
LMB -- What's your
writing place like? How is it set up? Do you play music or have some kind of outside
stimulus going on while you write?
Liz -- It's a
17'x17' room, the only one on the second floor of our office building behind our house.
With 7 windows I have plenty of light. The rest of the wallspace is bookshelves! I have a
long desk with everything I need on hand, and a table right behind my chair with the
reference books I reach for most. I have 600 books on Scottish history and culture around
the room, so I always have somewhere to turn when I have a question. I also burn a scented
candle--baked apple, cinnamon spice, pumpkin pie, something yummy--and have instrumental
Celtic music or movie soundtracks softly playing in the background. And lots of hot tea on
LMB -- Your first
historical novel, Thorn in My Heart, got very good reviews. How did the idea for this
Scottish historical romance come about?
Liz -- The story
has been burning inside me since 1995. I've made 6 trips to Scotland for research, and
have simply fallen in love with my adopted homeland. So much beauty, so much history, so
many interesting people!
LMB -- If readers
took one thing away from your writing, what do you hope that is?
Liz -- It took me a
few years to realize that all my books, no matter
the genre, have an element of grace. My
characters are flawed and therefore
easy to identify with. Even as various characters seek
to be forgiven and
made whole, so do my readers seek after that same affirmation and hope,
as do I!
LMB -- What's in
the works for Liz Curtis Higgs?
Liz -- Now that
I've finished writing the sequel to Thorn in My Heart--Fair Is the Rose, which will
publish in March 2004--I'm writing the third book in the series, Whence Came a Prince. All
three are set in the Lowlands of 18th-century Scotland.
LMB -- Any tips for
Liz -- You bet!
Visit my Web site at www.LizCurtisHiggs.com
and click on "How-to Tips for Writers."
LMB -- Thanks so
Liz -- And thank
LMB -- Check Liz's
website at www.lizcurtishiggs.com
for more information about this delightful author!!!