Megan Higginson - Interview (February 2017)
Why do you want to be a published author/illustrator?
I have so many stories to tell, and in a way that is unique to me. When I shared my stories with school kids at an author visit last year, they all engaged in them and asked for more. Deep down I want to inspire kids, whether that is to read more, write more, or just to enjoy life and not let fear hold them back.
I initially wrote a story for some orphan kids in the Philippines in 2013. Later, as I spoke to other children, parents, counsellors, teachers and psychologists, I realised that my story, Raymund and the Fear Monster, resonated with a great number with many asking for a copy as soon as it was published.
Raymund and the Fear Monster includes proven strategies to calm a child and help them move forward despite feeling afraid. And it's all wrapped up within a fun and entertaining story. Children and adults can learn to conquer fear.
I am familiar with fear as I lived with fear most of my life. I grew up in an abusive home. I lived on the streets for two years as a teenager. I have also lived with a serious illness for over ten years. I have now overcome fear. I know what to do when it rears its ugly head, and I long to share what I have learned with others. Today, I enjoy my life and look forward to everyday.
How long have you been writing?
I was not one of those kids who had written their first book by the time they were six. I have dyslexia, so reading and writing were difficult. However, with the right intervention I was reading and writing by the time I was seven. Then my head was always in a book. Writing came a lot slower. In fact, I gave up story writing while at school after a couple of incidents where my stories had the whole class in fits of laughter. As it wasn’t meant to be funny, I took it that I couldn’t write, therefore I shouldn’t.
However, I couldn’t stop writing and found myself making up stories all the time. I entered some into local writing competitions, and to my surprise won. Since then I have always written stories, but never called myself a writer until recently.
Going to the Philippines in June 2013, I meet the children from the Spirit and Life Mission House (an orphanage). They inspired me. I wrote to them regularly. I wrote short stories and drew cartoons for them. Then, I started writing more seriously and getting the stories that had been rattling around in my head for years, out of my head and onto the computer.
Our mission team planned to make a return trip to the same place in the Philippines in December 2013. I wanted to do something very special for the orphanage kids. The story of Raymund and the Fear Monster was written for the younger children of the orphanage, to encourage them to face their fears and overcome them. I visited the orphanage and I presented them with Raymund and the Fear Monster. I had illustrated the book (not brilliantly) and printed it out as a hardcover photo book. The looks on the faces of the children, and their exclamations of delight, made it all the hard work worth it.
That experience unleashed the writer within and I haven’t stopped writing stories since. I also blog, which I love, and I find that gives me yet another creative outlet.
How will/did you celebrate your first publication?
The owners at my local bookshop have kindly offered their store for the book launch. As my book’s theme is about overcoming fear, we plan to hold it during Mental Health Week in October. As the book is fun and a little quirky, so too will be the launch. Details are to be finalised but it will be fun.
How would you describe your writing style?
Fun and quirky