'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 12 March 2019

12 Curly Questions with author Simon Higgins

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 
The two most unusual jobs I have ever had were: 1. Being a roaring monster in a circus ghost train (had to wear a giant rubber head and hairy suit) and, 2. Being a camel handler, helping children to climb on the camel for rides and leading the animal, for the same circus. Many years later, I rode a camel into the Egyptian desert and my guide was surprised at how familiar I was with 'camel nature'. So, I say, everything you experience is useful. Even weird stuff!

2. What is your nickname? 
Where I live in Southern China, people found they had trouble saying 'Simon' so they nicknamed me 'Shimonn' (pronounced 'she-mon'), which translates from Mandarin as 'Western Enlightenment'. A very nice compliment. Basically it means 'a high-level mind or being from the West'. I'll go along with that!

3. What is your greatest fear? 
Getting to the end of my life without having made a big, positive contribution to the human race. I'm also terrified of being captured by a zombie army from space and being forced by them to eat junk food all day long.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words.
What ifs. Big conflicts. Weird realities. Intense suspense. High adventure.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.  
Tactical. Psychological. Mesmeric. Intense. Exhilarating.

6. What book character would you be, and why? 
I'm very jealous of one of my characters, Moonshadow, because he's a young shinobi (ninja), a spy with a fantastic skill set, plus a legendary medieval superpower (the ability to link his mind to the minds of animals).

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why? 
I'd like to travel back over 1000 years to the height of the Tang Dynasty in China, when its capital city (which I've been to in modern times) was the most advanced multicultural metropolis on earth, full of amazing technology far ahead of its time. Why? I'm fascinated by moments in human history when a civilisation really 'got it right' and created a remarkable, rare, golden age.

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now? 
'Really? I turn into YOU? I really DO get to write books for a living? Cool!'
(Wanting to be a writer, I wrote two full-length novels when I was 10. Looking at them honestly, one was actually not bad, but the other really, really sucked!).

9. Who is your greatest influence? 
My (late) great parents. They had travelled the world and lived in India, Africa, South East Asia, Cyprus, England and Australia. My mother taught me to read and they both told me exciting true stories of their lives in exotic places, sometimes including real Indiana Jones-type danger moments. As a result, I grew up thinking that that kind of life (travel, adventure, living in very different cultures) was totally cool and desirable, and I ended up doing it too.

10. What/who made you start writing? 
By the time I was 10, I was reading adult novels and Greek and Roman classics, as well as children's books. That was my mother's influence. She'd worked hard on making me a strong reader at a young age, and so, very early on, I wanted to create my own stories, inspired by all the interesting stuff I was reading. On my website is a black-and-white picture of me as a very small boy, writing and illustrating one of my first (quite detailed) picture books. And from there, I never looked back!

11. What is your favourite word and why? 
Decisive. It describes an essential trait for all would-be heroes and world-changers.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be? 
King Solomon's Mines by H Rider Haggard. I love adventure stories set in unfamiliar cultures, which is why I write them myself. Rider Haggard lived in Africa in the era of the Zulu Wars. He knew tribal warrior culture intimately plus had a wild imagination. KSM has it all when it comes to adventure tales: a daring explorer, a lost loved one, a disguised prince, a mad king, his evil witch, treasure, danger, complex battles, fascinating facts. And though it was written in the 19th century, it remains fast-paced, funny, cool and exciting!

Simon Higgins is a former police officer, prosecutor and private investigator specialising in murder cases. A martial artist and published author with an international career spanning over 20 years and 14 novels published in several languages, he has also been an Australian Government Ambassador for Asia Literacy and an Endeavour Award Recipient, funded by his country to live and study in China. Simon was the first westerner to pen an interactive visual novel published in both Chinese and English. In 2008 he competed in Kyoto, Japan, in the annual Taikai, the world championships of the sword art Iaido, held on a mountaintop before a Japanese prince. Simon placed fifth. When not working on novels or teaching around the world, he leads a professional team writing an animated series for Chinese TV. For more information, see www.simonhiggins.net.