JUST IMAGINE: You used to be a teacher. How & when did you make the transition to full time writing
CHRIS HIGGINS: I was a full-time secondary school English teacher and had four children of my own so, though I loved writing, I never had the time to sit down and write a book. Instead I used to write a school play and produce it every year plus the occasional short stories which were published in a local press. Then my children grew up and started going off to university and I had a brush with cancer which focused my mind completely. Finally I sat down and wrote that book which was called “32C, That’s Me.” It came out nearly 12 years ago and this summer my 25th book will be published.
JI: Did you get into “Trouble at School”?!
CH: No! I was never brave enough to get into trouble at school! I was the little kid with her hand permanently up, wanting to please the teacher. I had a sneaking admiration for the ones who did though which is probably where Magda came from in my “Here Comes Trouble” series. She’s my alter-ego! I was more of a Bella unfortunately.
JI: Other than your “My Funny Family” series, (which is a big favourite at Just Imagine!), a large number of your books are for older children. What made you decide to go back to writing for a younger audience with the “Trouble At School” series & have you enjoyed the change?
CH: I started off writing teen books which is not surprising since my children were teens and I taught that age-group. Then my daughters started having children of their own and, with eight grandkids to date, I was back in the world of ‘littlies’ again. Naturally, I found myself writing for younger children and that’s how my two series for newly independent readers, “My Funny Family” and “Here Comes Trouble” came about.
JI: Your book covers are very different to each other. Do you have much input into the design of these?
CH: I always have a discussion about the cover before it’s designed and it’s sent to me in rough form for approval before the final design. I put my trust in the designers because they know what they’re doing. I absolutely love the “My Funny Family” covers with Mattie, drawn by the amazing Lee Wildish, in an amazing new hat every time, and the bright, cheeky covers of “Trouble Next Door” and “Trouble at School”. They sum up the books perfectly.
JI: What can we hope to see from you next?
CH: 2018 is an exciting year with 3 books coming out. Next is “A Boy Called Ocean”, a new teen book coming out in June about a boy who drifts out to sea on a surfboard. I can’t wait to see it on the shelves. And then, I’m delighted to say in August there will be further adventures of Bella and Magda in “Trouble on the Farm”.
Thank you to Chris, for taking the time to answer our questions.