Please join me today in welcoming the author of We've Seen Santa, Tiffany A. Higgins.
Your children's book, We've Seen Santa, was released last May. Can you tell me what inspired you to write a Christmas-themed book?
Actually, this is kind of a funny story. When my daughter, Alexandra, was about 2, she asked why we didn't have to go to bed before Santa came. I told her that Santa likes to talk to Mommy and Daddy about how good her and her brother, Damion, had been throughout the year. She asked if she could stay up. So, I came up with a bedtime story about what might happen if Santa saw her awake. We've Seen Santa is an adaptation of that bedtime story. One day, my husband told me that he thought I should write these stories down. As I wrote them, I developed them into stories that everyone could enjoy.
Your bio states that you want to write a novel and I know that you recently participated in NaNoWriMo. Did you get that novel written and is it aimed at children or adults?
I surprised myself and did complete my first novel during the NaNoWriMo event. I have a lot of editing and rewriting to do before it can be released to the public. I am hoping to release it early next year. It is a novel for adults, and therefore will be released under my pen name (or alter ego as I like to call it), Tifanne Messer.
When you write, do you like to have a complete plan or plot outline or do you just write as you go or “fly by the seat of your pants”, like they say?
I am definitely a fly by the seat of my pants kind of writer. In the past, I have attempted to plan and outline and pre-write, but I have learned that absolutely nothing ever goes in the direction I initially planned, so I've stopped planning and just let the story lead me where it may.
What would be your number one piece of advice for aspiring authors?
Have faith in yourself. The hardest part of writing (or any other art form) is that we are always our own worst critics. We could have a masterpiece in our stack of trunk novels, but we keep telling ourselves it's not good enough. Usually, we are wrong. Also, stick with it. When it seems like you are never going to get past that writer's block, set it aside. I like to grab a couple of characters, put them in the goofiest of situations and see what they will do. You can write out this goofy scene, or you can just let them play in your head. For a writer, it's okay to have personalities living inside your head.
What do you think is the most important Christmas tradition? What do you think is the key to Christmas spirit?
The most important tradition is definitely the gathering of family. My family is now spread far and wide, and you really don't realize how important those Christmas's spent together are until you lose them. I would love to spend just one more Christmas with my entire family gathered at my grandmother's house. I believe the key to the Christmas spirit varies from person to person. For me, I would have said, it is the light in the children's eyes that always gets me in the Christmas spirit. The wonder and amazement as they see the decorations or Santa or just hear that Christmas is around the corner. However, I am reexamining that this year. These news stories of all the anonymous “Santa's helpers” that are popping up nationwide, helping families in need and not looking for any recognition at all have definitely gotten me more into the Christmas spirit than in years past. Perhaps, I never noticed it missing before, but now that it is front and center it lightens my heart. I have faith that perhaps Christ is coming back to Christmas in America once again.
Do you have any favorite Christmas books or movies? What about music?
My favorite Christmas book goes back to family traditions. It is 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. I have two favorite Christmas movies, "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street." The former was one I had to grow up to truly appreciate. I used to roll my eyes whenever my family watched "It's a Wonderful Life" at Christmastime. Now, I make sure to watch it every year. "Miracle on 34th Street", on the other hand, has been a favorite holiday movie of mine for as long as I can remember. My favorite Christmas song is "Carol of the Bells." The other day, I learned that this is also my mother's favorite.
Okay, for my final question, how about a little Christmas this or that?
real tree or artificial tree? We have an artificial tree. Every year, I swear I'm going to get my first real tree. I would love to go as a family, select and cut down our own tree, and bring it home to decorate. Every year, we end up putting up the artificial one yet again.
clear lights or colored lights? Colored lights, I am a colorful person.
mistletoe or holly? Mistletoe, after all who doesn't like a little holiday romance?
hot chocolate or hot spiced cider? Hot chocolate, with lots of whipped cream and a mini candy cane.
sugar cookies or gingerbread cookies? Sugar cookies, because I love the tradition of having my kids decorate them after I cut them out but before I bake them. It is one of my favorite family traditions.
egg nog or boiled custard? This one, I would have to say neither. It's a texture thing more than a flavor thing.
Rudolph or Frosty? Do I really have to choose? I love the magic of Frosty, but I love the message of acceptance in Rudolph. Rudolph shows that different is good. I believe that children need both. They need to believe in magic and miracles, but they also need to learn and understand that it is okay to be different and to accept those that are.
Scrooge or The Grinch? Another difficult question. I have always loved Scrooge. I enjoyed reading Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and have enjoyed the many different ways it has been portrayed on screen. I do love watching the Christmas Spirit growing inside of The Grinch. However, if I were forced to choose only one to watch in a year, I would choose to watch "A Christmas Carol" over "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."
Wow, Tiffany, thanks for the great interview! I know exactly what you mean about the artificial tree thing. I have had a real tree every year of my life, except for the last two years. Both times, we've run out of time and money for a real tree. Next year, there will be a real tree. And you should go cut your own. We used to do it when I was a kid and we have done it several times in the past years. It's a wonderful experience. A Merry Christmas to you and your family...and a Happy New Year too!
We've Seen Santa~It's every child's dream to catch Santa leaving presents under the tree. Falling asleep on Christmas Eve is a struggle! You hear a sound. What was it? Could it be Santa? We've Seen Santa is the story of a brother and sister who sneak out of bed and go downstairs to take a peek. Will Santa be eating the cookies they left out for him? Will he be the jolly man they imagine? Will he be happy to see them? An unforgettable Christmas is in store for the siblings!
We've Seen Santa is available at Amazon , Barnes and Noble and Strategic Book Group
Visit Tiffany: Website | Blog | Facebook | Publisher On Twitter: @TiffanyAHiggins and @WeveSeenSanta
GIVEAWAY: (2) copies of We've Seen Santa are up for grabs. Please leave a comment telling me what you think is the key to Christmas Spirit. Include your email address so I can contact you if you win. You do not have to be a follower, but followers will receive one extra entry point. This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada and will end on Friday, January 6, 2012 at 11:59pm CST. Good luck!
Always in spirit....