Wendy Higgins Interview with BuzzyMag.com
Author Of The Sweet Trilogy Sweet Evil Sweet Peril Sweet Reckoning
Jean: Hello. This is Jean Marie Ward, from BuzzyMag.com. With me today is Wendy Higgins, the debut author of ‘Sweet Evil‘, the first volume in The Sweet Trilogy from Harper Teen. Welcome, Wendy.
Wendy Higgins: Thank you.
JMW: Could you tell our viewers a little bit about ‘Sweet Evil’?
Wendy Higgins: Sweet Evil, just as the title implies, it’s got a main character who has some very sweet elements and she’s also got these dark elements in her. She’s got a guardian angel for a mother and demon for a father, so she’s caught between those two extremes.
JMW: A little bit like teenagers of all strides.
Wendy Higgins: Exactly. She’s just like a normal teen, except her urges are stronger than normal.
JMW: Stronger than normal, and she has extra senses, almost superpowers.
Wendy Higgins: Exactly.
JMW: You don’t make it easy for her; you put her up against Kaidan Rowe, who I believe has a rather interesting parentage of his own.
Wendy Higgins: Yeah, he is the son of the Demon of Lust, and he’s a drummer. He’s from England, so he has an English accent. He’s is just basically the embodiment of lust. His father tells him that he needs to help train her, and she does not like the sound of that. At the same time, she does feel, obviously, a pull toward him. Overall, it’s a dark love story. We don’t exactly get full closure at the end of the first book, but we’ll definitely get there.
JMW: At the end of the trilogy, right?
Wendy Higgins: Yeah.
JMW: Dealing with angels, you had a lot of research to do. How’d you go about that?
Wendy Higgins: I first consulted the bible, because this it’s a biblically-based, angel lore and demon lore, so I read up on everything that I could. There’s not much to be found in the bible about what they look like, so really, a lot of it was just my crazy imagination. I just asked myself, “If a demon were to possess a body, what could it do to it? If an angel were to possess a body, what could it do to it, with the human attributes but bigger, stronger, just everything that a human is but more?”
JMW: You’re a former English teacher. Did I get that right?
Wendy Higgins: That’s right.
JMW: You taught in high school. Do you think that most high school students have a bit of the angel and a bit of the devil in them?
Wendy Higgins: Yes, they definitely do. Some of my students that gave me the most heartburn when I was teaching, I would see them years after they’d graduate, and I would see them in Walmart or something and they would be like “Ms. Higgins, we love you. I’m sorry that I was so bad, but you know, it was just because I loved you”. They’re just, they’re sweet, and I love . . . I missed working with teens, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to write a book for teens so I could still be reaching out the teen community.
JMW: Was that the inspiration of the book?
Wendy Higgins: That was definitely part of the inspiration. I think I was just finally at a time of my life where I was ready to do something bigger. I missed teaching, I loved staying home with my children, but felt like I needed to do something more; I needed to still be working with people, I still need to be reaching out to teens, I needed to just be doing something bigger. I’d always loved writing but I’d never found the right story that could keep my interest. This one, when it came to me, it just bombarded me and I couldn’t not write it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t think about anything else for those first 7 weeks of the first draft. It was just really an answered prayer.
JMW: The first draft wasn’t the one you submitted to Harper Teen. You had a rather unusual path to publication. Want to talk about that a bit?
Wendy Higgins: My first draft I put up on a website called Inkpop, and it’s owned by Harper Collins; it’s since been sold. At the time, what would happen is people could go on there, they could post their writings, we could critique for each other, give feedback to each other, and vote on their favorite projects. Mine got voted up to the Top 5 in the first month, and it went to a Harper Collins editor and that is where the whole ball started rolling. By that point I had an agent. My book was out on submission. When she emailed me and said, “I would like to read the rest of your book because I didn’t have the whole thing on the website,” when she emailed me, that’s when I knew I could possibly be published with Harper Collins. I cried and freaked out, and it was amazing. Yes, I didn’t have a traditional route to publication.
JMW: Did you find the critique that you received on Inkpop helpful?
Wendy Higgins: Yes, yes, yes. When I first went on the site, I went on the site because it needed work, especially the first chapter; it needed something. Basically, the people on the site, they were very honest. I eventually just threw out that first chapter completely and reworked it. They helped me get it to the point where it was ready, so by the time it landed in that editor’s hands, it was the best that it had ever been. It still changed hugely from that to when I finally heard back from them. I changed it from a single book to a trilogy. They only wanted to pick up the first book, but I just held out hope that they would want the second and third one eventually, hopefully.
JMW: They have.
Wendy Higgins: They have. Last month, they came forward and made an offer, so it’s now officially going to be a trilogy, and I’m thrilled.
Jean: You’ve even got the cover for Book 2.
Wendy Higgins: Yes, and I love it.
JMW: It’s called ‘Sweet Peril‘. Did I have that right?
Wendy Higgins: Yes. ‘Sweet Peril‘, and the third is ‘Sweet Reckoning‘.
JMW: Can you tell our viewers a little bit about what’s going to happen in ‘Sweet Peril‘? In ‘Sweet Evil‘, I think it’s no spoiler to say that Anna Whitt, the lead character, learns about her nature and meets a really sexy guy named Kaidan Rowe. Can you, without too many spoilers, tell us anything about ‘Sweet Peril‘?
Wendy Higgins: It’s really dangerous for these characters to be together. They’re not supposed to love anyone, much less each other. They’re supposed to just spend their whole lives focused on doing the work of their fathers.
JMW: Devils and angels.
Wendy Higgins: Devils and angels, yes. Basically, the first half of the second book is all about Anna traveling the world with another Nephilim boy, the son of the Demon of Wrath, named Capano. The two of them are trying to find other Nephilim like themselves, who will be allies to help the fight against the demons, hopefully, eventually. Then it always comes back around to Kaidan. The second half of the story, finally, Anna and Kaidan have to work out these things that they’ve been putting off for so long, so it gets interesting.
Jean Marie Ward writes fiction, nonfiction and everything in between, including art books, novels (2008 Indie Book double-finalist With Nine You Get Vanyr), and short stories such as WSFA Small Press Award finalist “Lord Bai’s Discovery” and “Personal Demons” in the award-winning anthology Hellebore and Rue. Her videos include author interviews and tutorials.