Author Spotlight: Carter Higgins


October 2, 2015

We are thrilled to feature author, Carter Higgins whose middle grade novel, A RAMBLER STEALS HOME, will be released in Fall 2016 followed by two picture books in 2017 by Chronicle Books.


Welcome, Carter!


Tell us about your background and how you came to write for children.

Once upon a time I was an elementary school librarian, and then I was a motion graphics designer, and then I was an elementary school librarian again. Somewhere in that storytelling sandwich of studying books and pictures I wanted to write my own, but didn’t put the work in and get serious until 2011. I saw that this thing called SCBWI was putting on some kind of conference in Los Angeles, and Judy Blume was going to be there. 

So I went.

When is your book scheduled to be released?

A RAMBLER STEALS HOME, published by HMH Books for Young Readers, will be out in the fall of 2016. It’s a middle grade novel about hearts and broken things and baseball. It’s about a summer and a girl and a boy and a family and I love these people as if they were my own.

When is your next project due out?

Following RAMBLER, I have two picture books out with Chronicle Books in 2017. EVERYTHING YOU NEED FOR A TREEHOUSE will be available in the spring, and THIS IS NOT A VALENTINE will be later in the fall. The incredible Emily Hughes is illustrating TREEHOUSE, and seeing this book come together is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever been a part of. It is breathtaking.

Those two books are in second and first person, have less explicit plot arcs, and no named characters. You have to write like you, no matter what they say works.

What is your typical process for writing? 

Think about it for a long time, and then keep thinking. 

Once I start writing, I’m sort of at the whim of the project and the time I can squeeze in during the work week. That’s why I find the thinking time so foundational and so necessary. Ideas that stick in my gut translate better to paper by the time I can get them down. 

If it’s a picture book text, I know pretty much immediately whether it’s going to work or not. This doesn’t mean that revision is absent or unnecessary, but there’s a soul to a manuscript that has to be there for me to follow it.

This was a feeling that took a long, long time for me to hear.

For longer work, for middle grade, the characters all come first. They have names, character snapshots, and a place. And then some things show up. Some stuff. Some trouble. A voice. That’s when I sit down to write, after I’ve lived with their world a while. 

I’d say that makes me some combination of a plotter and a pantser. I know some pit stops along the way, but I’m not too sure which route to take. 

Sometimes I wish I played around with any idea or notion that comes along, to see if I can craft that into something beautiful. But then I remember the joy of that thing that’s both tickly and itchy, and that’s the story I have to tell.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t worry about writing every day. 

Think, dream, and read every day. Watch the world with story-eyes. Chase story-strings for their beginnings and follow story-streams as they cut to their ends. 

If you watch the world and people’s hearts first, the words can come later. And then they’ll have all that wonder seeping through it, and the black words on white paper mean something real and true.

Where can people find you on the internet?

Lots of places! 

I blog about graphic design and picture books over at Design of the Picture Book. I only talk about books I love and get to interview lots of folks about their art and stories. There’s also a book-confetti-dropping-Book-Party button, which is a good representation of what that place is for me.

Instagrammed my way through the best summer vacation ever, but mostly that’s a spot for books and things I like a lot. Instagram is great for picture book writers: capture a slice of life in a snap and tell a whole story in just a few spare words. 

Twitter is a perfect place to hear about the funny things kids say in my library and the poignant undertones of their smart stories. (There’s also a lot of fantasy football talk and times I try to be funny.) It’s been one of the best places to meet kindred online spirits!

And a new place in the neighborhood is All the Wonders, a place for readers to go beyond the books they love. I’ve teamed up with a brilliant crew to share what we know and adore about books to parents who might be navigating unfamiliar waters. We’re a review and revue collection of sorts, celebrating books through song, crafts, videos, storytimes, and suggestions for your shelves. 
 
What is one thing people don't know about you?

I won an Emmy for the last television project I worked on before I went back to the library, which is a pretty solid mic drop, right? But for something less shiny and much more sour, I know an actual traditional German yodel. It’s a pretty good trick for parties and teacher talent shows. You never know when you’ll have a stage at either.

Thanks so much, Carter!


Carter is a librarian at an independent school in Los Angeles. She is the author of A Rambler Steals Home (HMH, 2016) and two forthcoming picture books from Chronicle Books. She is an Emmy-winning visual effects and motion graphics artist whose career has covered all the nooks and crannies of visual storytelling. She writes about picture books and graphic design at her blog, Design of the Picture Book, and you can find her on Twitter @carterhiggins.





7 comments:

  1. Great interview, Carter! Looking forward to seeing your books!

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  2. "Watch the world with story-eyes." Great advice, Carter! Congrats on both MG and PB publications. Can't wait to read them!!

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  3. LOL! Traditional German yodel FTW! Carter is seriously cool. :D Congratulations to her on her upcoming book birthdays! It must be thrilling beyond belief.

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  4. I'm looking forward to reading your books when they come out. And love your advice - thanks so much!

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  5. I DID NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS YODEL THING. So important.

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  6. Please yodel on youtube for us, Carter! Best of luck with all your book launches!

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  7. Congratulations on your upcoming books, Carter! Thanks for the message, "You have to write like you, no matter what they say works." So true. I appreciate that.

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