When I was twelve I came eleventh equal in art class at school because our kind-hearted teacher couldn’t bear to rank anyone beyond the top ten in the class. About twenty of us came eleventh equal that year.
2. What is your nickname?
Janis Ian – which is longer than Jane, but hey.
3. What is your greatest fear?
Well, there’s the obvious: losing people dear to me. And then there’s flying. But actually, my greatest fear is that my generation, which is taking this beautiful planet to the climate change precipice, will push it over the edge because we’re too craven and greedy and short-sighted to take the actions needed to save it.
4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
Sparse, with an ear on cadence, an eye on clarity.
5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Reader. Word nerd. Speculative. Patient. Attentive.
6. What book character would you be, and why?
Ged, the mage (wizard) in the Earthsea series by Ursula Le Guin. Ged knows the true names of things – that’s the source of his power. He can speak with dragons. And he gets to ride Kalessin, Eldest of all the dragons.
7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
I’ve always wanted to be the Doctor: ‘All of time and space, everything that ever was, or ever will be…’ If I was feeling brave, I’d go two hundred years into the future, to the time when The Bridge and Havoc are set, to see if we’d made it – if we’d found a way to live together without destroying ourselves or the planet. If we had managed it, that would be a world worth seeing.
8. What would your ten-year-old self say to you now?
Hey! Look up! Don’t forget to gaze at the universe out there and be wowed!
9. Who is your greatest influence?
That’s hard. I’m indebted to so many people that I can’t choose one. Right now, though, I’m inspired by the many community people who are pouring heart and soul into the recovery of our city, Christchurch, after the devastating earthquakes here during 2010/11.
10. What/who made you start writing?
My sister, Nicola, who died too young. Her death made me see that life is not a dress rehearsal. Time is precious, so get on with doing what you really want to do. For me, that meant writing.
11. What is your favourite word and why?
Petrichor. Because it’s so odd. It sounds like a fossil fuel corporation. In fact, it's the smell of rain on dust or the dry earth. It’s possibly the most beautiful smell there is.
12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin. A wonderful book about friendship.
Jane Higgins is a social researcher at Lincoln University in Christchurch, New Zealand, and an author of young adult fiction. Her first novel, The Bridge, won the Text Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing. The sequel, Havoc, is now available. Both novels are published by Text Publishing. Visit Jane's website for more information about her books and writing.
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