Today I am excited to talk with Anita Higman and Janice Thompson, co-authors of Larkspur Dreams from Heartsong Presents.
Your Heartsong is entitled, Larkspur Dreams. What’s the theme of your novel?
Anita: Letting God grow us beyond ourselves.
Janice: Opposites not only attract; God often uses our “polar opposite” to complete/fulfill us.
How do writers go about coauthoring?
Anita: There are a number of ways to coauthor a novel. One writer can do the research and the other writer can actually write the story. Or coauthors can each choose a character and write from that character’s POV. In the three books we’re writing together, I guess you could say I’m writing the body and wings of the stories, and Janice is helping to make them fly. She has a quite a gift for critiquing.
Janice: Working with Anita is a breeze because she conceives and fully plots the stories then lets me add my thoughts/tidbits to give them flavor. She is so quirky and fun to work with, and I am very proud of the stories we have co-produced. I especially loved the character of Larkspur because I see so much of myself in her.
Were there times when it was hard to work together?
Anita: No hard times. Janice Thompson is a gentle dove of a woman. She is not only talented, but easy to work with. There were a few times in one of the novels that I found myself writing in a way that strayed from the general concept of a Heartsong romance. Janice made some good suggestions, which steered me in the right direction.
Janice: I can honestly say that I’ve never worked with anyone who was so willing to accept critique and/or take suggestions as Anita. She is a precious friend and collaborative partner. I already knew she was talented (even before we began this project) but had no idea how gracious she would be. Since I’ve written for the Heartsong line for years, I was able to “teach her the ropes” (as it were) and she was a ready learner! That’s not to say she hasn’t taught me a thing or two. I’ve learned much from her throughout this process, particularly as it applies to romantic tension. She’s far better at that than I am, and I’m happy to admit it.
Why did you choose to be a writer?
Anita: Ever since I was a little girl, I had this need to express myself in some sort of artistic medium. I’ve tried a number of things: piano, painting, decorating, and acting. But I’ve never been very good at any these endeavors, except writing. I guess really then—writing chose me.
Janice: Like Anita, I’ve always been artistic. As a youngster, I sang, danced and played the piano. I was also very involved in theater as a young person. I’ve been writing since childhood. I wrote my first novella in 6th grade, then went on to write musical comedies for the stage before turning to books in the mid-90’s. Like Anita, I can truly say that I didn’t choose writing; it chose me. Or, perhaps I should say that God chose it for me, as a gift.
How would you describe the characters in Larkspur Dreams?
Anita: Lark and Everett are total opposites. Lark is a sanguine and a free-spirit who loves people and loves being alive. Everett is a cautious guy who enjoys numbers more than people. I love throwing characters together who’ll stir up trouble just by being in the same room.
Janice: As mentioned above, I really related to Larkspur on many levels. She’s as fun-loving and free-spirited as they come. All artsy types will agree! To give her a love interest like Everett (ironically, my grandfather’s name) was terrific because we really got to explore the “opposites attract” principle. It worked like a charm!
Did you both enjoy working with these characters? Why?
Anita: Many of my characters are bits of me. Lark is only a small part of me. I’m more of a melancholy/choleric, and Lark is really a true sanguine with a little bit of phlegmatic thrown in. She is the life of the party, and everybody loves being around her. I enjoyed writing about Lark, because I am a Lark-wannabe. Aren’t we all?
Janice: Will I embarrass myself too much if I say that I enjoy being the life of the party, like Larkspur? I do! I’m a real people person, and I thrive on the affections of the people God has placed in my life. Consequently, I really loved this character. As for Everett. . . I had to “grasp” the concept that someone could actually “be” like that. He seemed foreign to me! But, of course, he was Lark’s perfect/ideal man!
How long have you been writing?
Anita: I’ve been writing for twenty-two years. It’s been a long journey, a hard journey at times, but I’m glad I didn’t get off the train. During those many years, I had a variety of books published, mostly nonfiction, but the passion for writing novels never left me. When I first started this whole process, my kids were little. It became difficult to sit down and concentrate on writing, but I did find bits of time. Also, kids go to bed earlier than adults, so I used that block of time to write rather than watch television. Now, empty nest is around the corner, so soon I’ll have even more time to write.
Janice: I’ve been writing professionally since the 90’s. As mentioned earlier, I wrote musical comedies for the stage. (I was a drama director at a Christian school of the arts for several years.) My first “published” works were magazine articles, then I sold my first novel (Duty to Die) in 2000. Since then, I’ve written/published over 20 books, in nearly every genre: historical fiction, contemporary inspirational romance, cozy mystery, non-fiction devotional, and Christian living.
When did you have your first success as a writer?
Anita: After several years of writing, I had some gradual success—books for children, books of one-act plays, and nonfiction for women. These successes were enough to keep me going toward my ultimate goal, which was to write novels.
Janice: This may sound a bit silly, but my first real writing “success” happened my senior year in high school, when I was chosen to help write the senior production. I had a blast, and the scene I crafted (a 1930’s/Busby Berkeley-esque “The Show Must Go On” scene) was a huge success. I can’t tell you what fun I had, or how great it felt for people to respond as they did.
Do you have any special methods of getting into the writing zone, such as favorite scents, music, or certain foods?
Anita: Sometimes I go to a local French café, order coffee and scrambled eggs, and then write a rough chapter. The noise, music, and bustle energizes me creatively.
Janice: An “ideal” writing situation for me would involve someplace like Starbucks (or otherwise) with a cup of my favorite hot beverage in my hand (to be discussed below). Ironically, when I’m at home, I can’t stand having music going. I find it terribly distracting… something about the “beat” drives me nutty. Having the television on is okay, but it’s often muted. Crazy, I know. I’m a fanatic about my Diet Dr. Pepper and several flavors of hot tea. I particularly love Earl Grey and Chai Latte, among others. And I’m nuts about hot chocolate in the wintertime. I’m also crazy about my puppies. I have two red mini-dachshunds named Sasha and Copper. They usually settle in next to me on the sofa, Sasha on my right, Copper on my left. When we’re all in place (with a cup of tea or a Diet Dr. Pepper on the end table, depending on the season) I’m ready to begin. Of course, I usually have to weed through several emails (clearing a path) before I can actually start writing. Whew! Sounds like quite a process, doesn’t it?! It’s a wonder I get anything done at all!
What is your best advice for aspiring writers?
Anita: If you feel called to write, don’t let people discourage you. I’m sure they don’t realize the impact of their words, but negative remarks can undermine our courage and joy. Comments similar to: “Maybe you weren’t really meant to be published.” Or, “Are you making any money at this yet?” Perhaps you’ve heard, “Why can’t you write like my favorite author?” Honestly, I could go on and on here. Writing is a great and honorable profession—one that can challenge, inspire, and change people’s lives. If you love words and love arranging them into stories, then don’t let the battering influence of dispiriting comments shatter your dream. Keep pressing on!
Janice: I often say this to young/new writers: Learn the craft, but don’t necessarily write what the publishers/agents/houses tell you to write. Trends change. Stick with the stories God places on your heart and if He intends them to be published, He will find the right publishing house in the right time.
What are your writing plans for the future?
Anita: I’d love to write romantic suspense. I’m also interested in fantasy.
Janice: I’m open to whatever God wants (and I really mean that). If He shifts me in a new direction (women’s fiction, for example) I’m following His lead! If He asks me to lay the writing down for a season in order to accomplish a different task, I’m open to that, too.
We’d love for you to visit our websites at http://www.anitahigman.com and http://www.janiceathompson.com. If you’re interested in our Heartsong novel, Larkspur Dreams, it can be ordered online right now through Barbour Publishing at http://www.barbourbooks.com/book/detail/larkspur-dreams-h-s-734/
Thanks for inviting us to your blog. It’s been fun!