A Tasty Read chats with Kristan Higgins
So, for any of my readers that have been with me from the beginning, you MUST know by now that I am a HUGE Kristan Higgins Fan...Yes, I have met her and acted like a teeny-bopper at an N'CYNC concert, but I squeeled on the inside! And I might have asked her to adopt me a few times, but all in fun...haha! In all seriousness, I one day hope to be as talented and as fantastic of a person as she is, and I am HONORED to have her stopping by for a little chat about her New Release, Blue Heron Book Four, IN YOUR DREAMS. (You can read my review here.)
A Tasty Read: So, since IN YOUR DREAMS is Book Four in the Blue Heron Series, which revolves around the Crazy Holland Family, I have to ask, are the Hollands based on a Family you know, or your family?
Kristan Higgins: A little bit! The grandparents, Goggy and Pops, bear some resemblance to my own maternal grandparents in the way they both bicker and love each other, and how hard they still work. There are some familiar sister dynamics between Honor and Faith that might (just might) resemble those between my sister and me. And I have a brother who’d rather drive his car into the frigid Bering Sea than hear about any feminine problems, so he and Jack have that in common.
ATR: When you first began the Blue Heron Series, did you know that you would eventually use Emmaline as a main character, or for Jack's love interest, or was that something that came to you later on?
KH: No! Em came as a surprise to me. When I first started the series, I only knew I’d write about Jack eventually. I thought about Colleen, but that seemed too easy. So when it came time to write his book, I took a look around town, so to speak, and all of a sudden, there was Emmaline, who works as a cop with Levi, Jack’s brother-in-law. And I just knew she was the one. Funny, how that happens sometimes. I didn’t know too much about her, other than she gives Levi a hard time, but the second she was in my brain, she started taking on this great personality.
ATR: Kevin...UGH...Where did his part of the storyline stem from? Were you reading "Amazing Weight Loss" issue of People?
KH: Watching The Biggest Loser, actually! Body image is such an issue with women, but I wanted to tackle it with a male character, too. Kevin and Emmaline meet in 8th grade, both outcasts in a tough crowd of over-indulged, wealthy kids. Em has a profound stutter; Kevin is overweight. I guess I wanted to show that men struggle with body image just as much as women. In fact, Em’s the one with healthy self-esteem, until Kevin becomes obsessed with weight and food. He was a character I loved to hate…and yet I ached for him, too. There’s a scene when he admits how much he hates being overweight, and it was heartbreaking!
I do love stories of people who’ve gone from morbidly obese to healthy and so admire what they’ve had to do to get there. But I’ve also wondered about these people who’ve hidden behind weight. What are they like without that shield? In Kevin’s case, while he became more and more attractive and fit, he also became meaner. I think he’s a great character because he’s complicated, and kind of fun to hate.
ATR: My one question that I am wondering, as I do a re-read of JUST ONE OF THE GUYS and CATCH OF THE DAY, do you ever look back and wish that you had written the heroes POV as well?
KH: Nah! I think both of those stories would’ve been weaker if we’d known what was going on in the heroes’ heads. In CATCH OF THE DAY, half of Malone’s appeal is that he’s a mystery; if we get inside his head, he’s not anymore. The same is true with Trevor. If the reader knows how he feels all along, it would certainly take a lot of bang out of certain scenes.
I love writing first person books for just that reason. In real life, we don’t get a window into someone else’s brain. Reading a first person story is incredibly intimate for that reason; it’s like we become that person. But I also love writing from the male perspective, because the dichotomy between a guy’s take on what happened vs. a woman’s take can be so funny and surprising. Jack, for example, says to Emmaline at one point: “I also like you.” A very simple statement (if you’re a guy). But when Em hears that, she has a little mental freak-out. What does that mean? He likes her, sure, but how? For how long? Why? Like as in buddy, or like-love? Like with a potential for love, or just like-lust? And there’s Jack, just cooking dinner, oblivious that “I like you” can be such a complicated statement.
ATR: Are you allowed to share what you are working on now? Is it another Blue Heron Series Romance or a Stand Alone?
KH: I just finished a book is called IF YOU ONLY KNEW, and it’s a stand-alone women’s fiction book about two sisters. Jenny, a wedding dress designer constantly faced with happy brides, is stuck on her ex-husband, who just had a baby with his perfect and wretchedly likable new wife; Rachel, a stay-at-home mother of triplet toddlers, has just found out her husband is cheating on her. The book was incredibly fun to write and has a really lovely romance in it. It will be released as a trade paperback.
There will also be another Blue Heron book, which I’m working on right now. Connor O’Rourke shouldn’t stay single, don’t you agree?
ATR: Kristan, it's such a pleasure and you are welcome back ANYTIME!!
ATR: Because this is A Tasty Read, can you share a favorite recipe, maybe one of your Grandmother's Delicious Desserts!
KH: Well, since chocolate cake plays an important role in this story, here’s Gram’s Hershey Bar Cake!
1 7-ounce Hershey bar (milk chocolate, no nuts) broken into pieces
¼ cup butter
1 2/3 cups boiling water
2 1/3 cups unsifted flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups light brown sugar
Combine chocolate, butter and boiling water in medium bowl; stir till smooth. In large bowl, combine flour, soda and salt, Gradually add chocolate mixture, beating well. Blend in eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Beat till smooth, for about a minute. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.
Perfect Chocolate Frosting (Hershey’s recipe)
1 stick butter
2/3 cup Hershey’s cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.
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Jack and Emmaline take a midwinter trip to beautiful Malibu, California. If you could go away for a long weekend in the dead of winter, where would you go?
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