Memories and old wounds

Kristan Higgins talks about her first attempt at writing romance and her switch to romantic comedy. Now she’s a best-selling, award-winning author known for small town romances. Why small towns?


How does small town life inspire you?

I had a very idyllic childhood, loving parents. I have an older brother and a younger sister, and we’re all very close in age. We had a lot of dogs. We had a horse and a very evil goat, a lot of woods to play in, a lot of time on our hands. And I read a lot. I was the only child who ever got paler in the summer than in the rest of the year, because I’d go down in the cellar where it was cool and I’d read. I was a great reader from 4 years old on, and I’d go out and sit on my horse and read with a book. I’d do my homework out there in the barn. So it was really lovely. I grew up in a small town, and then after college and living in New York, I moved back to that same town. I actually live next door to where I grew up. And the fun thing is that everybody knows you and they remember you from when you were a little dorky kid with the bad haircut and the thick glasses, and they never lose that sense of you, which I love but I also hate because everybody knows you. [laughs]

And there is that sense of intimacy that we’ve been together for a long time and that when something goes wrong, everybody pitches in together. Everybody knows your business, and it’s wonderful and it can be horrible too sometimes. But I love it, and I love to write about that sense of community in a small town, the pros and the cons. And I don’t know. I just love the big cast of the guys at the hardware store or the crotchety person at the post office, the waitress who used to go to school with you. I love all that exchange and intimacy and camaraderie sometimes. I love the old wounds that won’t heal. So I think it makes for a very rich story. There’s this wonderful saying, “All writers are thieves.” You know, we take whatever we want from whomever we meet, and so probably inadvertently I do steal from the people that I know or run into. But inevitably what happens is that I think I know my characters and I’m writing away and some line will appear on the screen that has been buried in my subconscious and I’ll say, “Oh, that’s who you are. I get it now. I understand you now.” I can only get there through writing 200 pages of dreck. But they do speak to you, and they do surprise you.

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