Today’s interview is with one of the winners of StarkLight Press’ Third Short Story contest, John J. Higgins.
John J. Higgins is an author, attorney, radio host and former statewide prosecutor who has had a multi-faceted career and life. He has worked on farms, performed firearm repairs, and refinished and sold antiques, all before he finished high school. In between pursuing his college studies, he supervised industrial finishing operations and assisted in developing a powder coating system. After college, he worked full time and attended law school at night. He also filmed rock stars and celebrities for public service announcements and produced and emceed a play that performed before audiences that totaled over 170,000. In his career as an attorney, he researched and wrote policy papers for governmental committees, drafted legislation, and revised statutes. In his role as a statewide prosecutor he was involved in some of the highest profile cases in his state, from prosecuting multiple and complex crime rings to homicides, including those committed by a serial killer. Among other things he does in his private life, he can scuba dive and pilot an airplane. An avid student of history and spiritual development, he lives in New Jersey in an old Victorian train station he converted into his residence.
His piece, A Devil’s Find, is contained inside the covers of StarkLight 3, available at www.starklightpress.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. When did you first become interested in writing?
A a child I had my own fantasy worlds and books opened up the fantasy worlds of others. The first time though I really thought of writing fiction on my own I was 10 or 11 and wanted to write my own James Bond novel. I figured out pretty soon I did not have enough experience in the world. My poor 007 would have been stuck in the woods or baling hay at the time.
Then after years of being a statewide prosecutor and having written many reports, briefs, some laws, and position papers I could retire from that and write my own fiction in earnest.
2. Where did your interest in angels and the supernatural arise? Could you tell us a bit about that?
I had seen angels in my bedroom shortly before my father was killed. They seemed natural to me and very intriguing. I had some interventions where I was in dangerous situations and believe was saved from disaster by divine interventions. When I went looking for their story, the history of the angels, all I could find was an assortment of partial stories. That’s when I decided to research the whole subject further and assemble a story which made sense to me.
I have also had an interest in ghosts, I believe my grandfather’s funeral home was haunted and over the years I have been in some haunted places. I even have some ghost pictures in my train station of one ghost in particular.
3. Did your interests in writing affect your career prior to your retirement?
In the law field writing is one of the main skills one has to possess. I was never afraid of writing a motion or a brief or responding to one. That made me a bit more fearless than some of my colleagues who found that to be a chore. Not being afraid to stand up in court and argue also helped. The difference between writing legal briefs and motions is that as a prosecutor you have to be truthful and honest so it was restricting in some ways. Defense attorneys on the other hand… can be let’s say a lot more creative in their writings…
4. How do you use your writing to relate to others?
I don’t know if I use my writings that way. I am pretty good dealing with people face to face. And at least so far writing about angels doesn’t affect my dealings with other humans, who knows what will happen when I get beyond the veil. 🙂
5. Who are your heroes and inspirations?
Silly or not — James Bond has always been an inspiration to me…but Ian Fleming’s and Connery’s version. Cool, calm, collected, yet witty and able to figure things out quickly, and do whatever it takes. In real life JFK inspired me to work in government and try to change society for the better. Abe Lincoln for his perseverance too, despite everything going badly in the early Civil War, he stayed true to his path, even made it better when he decided to rid the country of slavery once and for all.
6. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Just do it! Say whatever you want to say. Nowadays there are all these alleged rules of writing, don’t use adjectives, don’t use adverbs etc Its important to find your own voice. Hemingway, Stephen King and the rest found their own voice, but it should not control how you express yourself. There are no Gods of writing. Follow your dream, but also remember that if you want to succeed –it has to be a commitment, there are no overnight successes so don’t judge your efforts on that myth.
7. Could you tell us a little about your writing universe?
My writing universe is actually the whole universe. 🙂 I start with the Almighty coming into consciousness and creating the universe. Then he creates the Beings of Light who assist him with the rest. (I use he but dont believe he is a male – but the term “it” sounds disrespectful) I have fourteen archangels, nine species of angels, seven different levels of Heaven and seven Pits of Hell (coming in the next trilogy), pyramids, light weapons, spells, Humans, prehumans named Simians, and a love story entwined throughout between the lead archangel and the first human female named Lillith.
8. Do you have any rituals you use as an author to get into the writing zone?
I generally try to get through all my social media demands before I start to focus on my writing. But no, I don’t do any ritualistic dances in my office (naked or otherwise) — sorry to disappoint. I write in basic silence though. Music or television in the background distracts me…the silence let’s me fully engage my senses as I write. The story unfolds in my mind like a movie, I really try to put myself there. And when my characters get to the point that they seem real to me, they come up with their own dialogue and behaviors. its wonderful to watch.
9. What message do you think your writing sends to your readers?
I hope my archangel books make the readers think about their own perception of the Almighty, how love really can be the driving force in the universe, and that when it gets misguided it can turn to what we call evil. But still remains logically consistent. Beyond that I hope my universe is beautiful and entertaining to the reader and allows them to go on a journey with me.
10. Any final thoughts that you would like to share with us?
I have been working on some unrelated books, one of which is my memoirs. It’s been a chore and yet a blessing. And I have a story in your anthology as well. I also do my two radio shows a week. Tuesday nights on Hanging With Higgins where I interview authors or creative people like yourself and Saturday nights with Barb Adams where we discuss problems in America and practical solutions to remedy them. Would love for your readers to join me.