Debut author Wendy Higgins has quite the publishing tale: she was discovered online, on inkpop! Now that inkies and Figs have united, we caught up with Wendy to talk about Sweet Evil, book one of The Sweet Trilogy.
Sweet Evil follows Anna, a sweet Southern girl who’s always been just a little different–her senses are uncannily keen, and she has the odd ability to see others’ auras. When Anna meets too-hot-to-believe Kaidan, she discovers who she really is–the daughter of a guardian angel and a fallen angel–and her life becomes a lot more complicated. Will Anna embrace the sweet or the evil? To find out, start reading Sweet Evil on Figment now!
Describe Sweet Evil in 5 words.
A dark, sensual thrill ride.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Write what’s on your heart; don’t write for any trends, and don’t write based on what you think other people want or don’t want.
What’s the worst?
Someone on inkpop once told me I need to embrace the semi-colon. She proceeded to use it in every sentence . . . incorrectly. It made me giggle. Respect the punctuation.
You hand-wrote your first draft of Sweet Evil. Do you think that choice that influenced your writing process? Would you do that again?
At the time we only had one computer, and I had to share it with my family. I was so crazed and ready to get the story from my brain onto something solid that I wrote on computer paper–random scenes and ideas as they came to me. Then I got a pretty notebook with lined paper and rewrote, piecing it all together like a puzzle. I still have it all. There was something very comforting and real about writing by hand (maybe the finger cramps). It was an epic time for me. But I’d never do it again, lol.
You were an English teacher—does that have an effect on the kind of novelist you are? Have you gotten any feedback from your former students?
I have not received feedback from any of them yet, but I am friends with a bunch of them on Facebook and they’re excited for me. I think missing them was part of what inspired me to write this book. I wanted to work from home so that I could focus on my family, but I still wanted to be able to work with teens.
Being an English teacher definitely helped me with technical writing skills. I’ve always had a passion for reading and writing, which is what led me to teach English.
Like many Figment users, you were once an inkie! How did inkpop help you get published?
It was a dream-come-true scenario. I’d been shopping my story to agents and getting rejected. I knew it needed work, so I found inkpop, looking for feedback. I got tons of helpful critiques, and did thousands of critiques myself. Then after being on the site a few weeks I found my story in the top 20 and decided to go for it. My story had progressed and been revised, so it was much stronger by the time I made it into the top five. I’d posted all but the last four chapters on the site (wanting to protect the ending). Five weeks after I received my review from a HarperCollins editor, she emailed me and asked if she could read the last four chapters. That was “the moment” for me. The unbelievable, oh-my-freaking-gosh-are-you-kidding-me moment when I thought for the first time I could possibly get published. Lots and lots of tears that day. Six months later they made an offer. I still get emotional when I think of that day.
What has been the most surprising thing about the publishing process?
How long everything takes. And how much goes on behind the scenes in a big publishing house. Those are some super busy peeps.
Anna, the heroine of Sweet Evil, has both good and evil in her. What was the biggest challenge in creating such a multifaceted character?
The way I see it, we all have the capability of good and evil, it’s just more pronounced in Anna. It’s easier for her to be good than it is for us, if that makes any sense. The “fruits of the spirit” are more natural to her because of her angelic mother and the nurture she received from her adoptive mother. On the other hand, temptations and dark urges are harder for her because of her father. It was important for me to show that “good and evil” are about choice and intention for these characters.
Kaidan Rowe, Anna’s part-time love interest and full-time bad influence, seems like quite the hottie. Are you lucky enough that he’s inspired by someone in your life? Would you ever go on a date with Kaidan?
Kaidan is 100% NOT based on anyone in my life. Because if there was a real-life Kaidan I would be one of the girls who gets heartbroken by him, and therefore would not want to idolize him. My husband, and love of my life, is a science-loving veterinarian and son of a preacher. Can you say opposites? Ha! But Kaidan is a mix of all the characteristics I swoon for: British, drummer, intense, confident, mysterious, and deep. (Yes, my husband knows this and teases me plenty). Make-believe Kai is HOTT. Real-life Kaidans should be avoided at all cost . . . *winks*