Wendy Higgins M.S. ’04
“Radford University – the very land that it's on – always felt magical to me,” says USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins M.S. ’04. “The mountains and vast wildness.”
Higgins is the author of eleven novels, including the bestselling “Sweet Evil” series of books from HarperTeen, a young adult- and teen-focused imprint of publishing giant HarperCollins. “I tend to write fantasy and science fiction – the ultimate escapisms – all with elements of romance,” she explains.
“I've always loved telling stories. I started writing fiction when I was five. It was something I did just for fun. Something for me and my friends, sometimes even my mom,” Higgins says. “Being published was my absolute dream job but I never believed it would happen, so I focused on other careers.”
One of those careers was that of teacher, which is what lead the erstwhile waitress and flight attendant to attend Radford University. “I knew I wanted to work with teens, and I thought teaching would be the only way,” says Higgins. “While my husband was at the veterinary college at Virginia Tech, I enrolled at Radford to get my Master's degree and teaching certification.”
Her time as a Highlander helped to prepare Higgins for a career as a teacher. Unbeknownst to her, it was also helping to prepare her for a completely different job.
“Much of my time at Radford was centered on creative writing and reading books, both of which had always been my passion,” she explains. “My English professors, Kathryn Kelly and Carolyn Mathews, nurtured my love for books, concentrating heavily on how to incorporate contemporary novels and poetry into English lessons to meet the students where they were, relating to them on a modern level.”
After spending a few years as a high school English teacher, Higgins decided to leave the profession and become a stay-at-home mom. She always believed she would return to teaching, however.
“It became an obsession to put the perfect book into each student's hand, making self-proclaimed ‘reading haters’ find themselves immersed in the written word,” she explains. “So many other aspects of teaching were frustrating for me – grading research papers, standardized testing, etc. – but getting students to read and appreciate books never got old.”
While those frustrations helped lead Higgins to abandon her teaching career, her love for putting books into the hands of teens and young adults remained as strong as ever.
“Over time I began to miss working with teens,” she says. “The thought of going back to teaching frightened me, but I wanted to find a way to still work with youth in a way that incorporated books.”
That is when Higgins decided to bring everything full circle. “I decided to write a series for teens. I wanted to write the book that I wanted to read as a kid, but never did,” Higgins says. “And so I became a young adult book writer.”
She continues, “It's still surreal. While I am no longer teaching, I find that every lesson I learned during my days at Radford and my time in the classroom led me to this job.
“It was a natural progression and I'll always be grateful for my time as a Highlander.”
Higgins’ path to bestselling author was not a straight one. It was not always a smooth one. Nevertheless, it was the path that led her to her dream job.
“I didn't think my dream job was achievable, but I was wrong,” she says. “It'd been there for the taking all along, but it wasn't until I was truly ready that I could grasp it.”
Higgins continues, “Every journey, every step you take, lends itself to lessons you'll use in the future. Try to enjoy where you are at while you are there, but never stop looking forward. Never stop growing and believing.
“Chasing dreams is hard work, but worth every difficult moment.”
For more information on Wendy Higgins, please visit http://wendyhiggins.co. Her first contemporary young adult romance, “Kiss Collector,” will be released December 18, 2018.