|photo: Lisa Verge-Higgins
C.A. Higgins writes novels and short stories. She was a runner up in the 2013 Dell Magazines Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing and has a bachelor of arts in physics from Cornell University. She lives in Brooklyn. Her first novel, Lightless, will be published on September 29, 2015, by Del Rey.
On your nightstand now:
I usually keep nonfiction on my nightstand; once I've started a novel, I tend to read it so quickly that the book doesn't last the night! I have Time and Chance and Quantum Mechanics and Experience, both by David Albert, on my nightstand. Right beneath them is Introduction to Attic Greek by Donald Mastronarde, and then some fiction: Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough and The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Underneath all that is my e-reader, which has pretty much the entirety of Project Gutenberg saved on it.
Favorite book when you were a child:
The Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate. The series has a fantastic world and fantastic characters, and I love the mix of escapism (They can turn into lions! Sometimes they travel the cosmos or hop through time!) with the genuinely disturbing body horror and a really grim depiction of the psychological effects of war on the pre-teen heroes.
Your top five authors:
Robin Hobb, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Philip K. Dick, Tanith Lee and Gaius Valerius Catullus.
Book you've faked reading:
I accidentally faked reading A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. When I was younger, I had read some fantasy series that I had hated for a reason I have long since forgotten, and somehow I confused that other series with A Song of Ice and Fire. When the TV show started airing, family, friends and total strangers tried everything short of tying me to a chair A Clockwork Orange-style to make me watch it, while I swore up and down that I'd read the books and didn't like them. I gave in eventually--only to realize that not only had I never read the books, but that they are fantastic and I love them, and I regret all those years we spent apart.
Book you're an evangelist for:
The Farseer Trilogy (and sequels) by Robin Hobb. Sharing it with my friends is the only way I know how to deal with the fact that the books make me cry like a child.
Book you've bought for the cover:
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. I have a great and terrible weakness for corsets.
Book you hid from your parents:
The Symphony of the Ages series by Elizabeth Haydon. I read very rapidly as a child, and at some point--probably marked by the moment I had finished every book in the children's and young adult sections of the library and my mother sent me to the adult section with a duffle bag and the words, "Have at it"--my parents gave up on trying to actively monitor my reading list. To protect this beneficial state of affairs, I learned discretion when it came to a few books, including the series above. And on the bright side, I had a better sex ed than most of my peers.
Book that changed your life:
The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene--it's what got me interested in physics, which led me to the idea for Lightless.
Favorite line from a book:
"You must never run from anything immortal; it attracts their attention." --Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn.
I really enjoy the ominousness and simplicity of this line. It implies so many interesting details about immortal creatures, mortal creatures, the differences thereof and the relationship between.
It's also solid advice. Whenever I'm walking someplace dark and alone and I feel that pricking on the back of my neck, I never run. Correlation doesn't mean causation, but I haven't been eaten yet.
Five books you'll never part with:
I have a sub-collection of books that I take with me whenever I go on a long trip as sort of paper and cardboard teddy bears. This sub-collection includes The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Changeling Prince by Vivian Vande Velde, The Farseer series by Robin Hobb, What If? by Randall Munroe and--a recent addition--Uprooted by Naomi Novik.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. I had to read it for a class in my freshman year of college, and my dorm was this big, quiet stone building with a long hallway right outside my door. I started the book in the afternoon and ended up reading it all in one sitting, while the sun set behind the hill outside my window and then--as it got dark--people started whispering in and walking down the hallway. Every now and then, someone would shout or laugh and then immediately fall silent. At one point someone tripped and hit the wall beside my door and I nearly screamed. I really admired the way the psychological effects of the book's titular house influenced me beyond the book, and rereading it isn't quite the same as the first time.