Katie Higgins, whose story ‘Primal Energy’ is published in issue 5 of Lucent Dreaming, is an American writer from Chelmsford, Massachusetts. She
earned her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2017. She worked as a writing tutor, helping students and faculty alike on a myriad of writing projects. She herself writes mostly young adult fiction and fantasy. After spending a year as a bookseller she decided to move to England for love (making her feel almost like she had wound up in one of her own YA stories). When she’s not writing, she’s knitting, reading or vinyasa-flowing. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in creative writing at Brunel University London. This is her first publication.
So, what inspired your piece ‘Primal Energy’ and how did it find its way to Lucent Dreaming?
I had been to a listen to an author speak in Edinburgh about the writing process when she mentioned that once when she was young, the women of her house generated so much electricity on their own that it registered with the electrician who had come to visit. The idea of women who could generate their own electricity really charmed me, and I jotted it down in the margin of my lecture notes. I didn’t think of it again until I saw the posting for Lucent’s flash fiction contest was “lead.” My first thought, of course, was electrical lead, and the story of an electrician investigating a power outage really bloomed from that one image.
What does writing and art mean to you?
Writing has always been my way of communicating how I see the world, how I feel about it. At first, when I was young, it was pretty much copying the things happening in my life or other things I read and attempting to translate them in my own way. Everything I heard or learned was potential for a story of my own. When I was young, the news story of a field mouse escaping a flood on the back of a frog became a rescue story about a little town of woodland animals. Always being on the lookout for something new like that, whether you’re a six year old charmed by animals or an adult following the harder news stories of the world, the act always feels like looking through a kaleidoscope, creating different brilliant images until one really resonates. The act of writing itself — those rare times when the writer actually puts words to the page — is when I truly lose track of time.
What are you most excited about right now and what writing/creative projects are you currently working on?
I am currently researching (and doing a bit of drafting) for a novel that I’m basically pitching as young adult Peaky Blinders with vampires. It’s definitely an homage to my early teenage years when vampires in books was all anyone talked about. I’m really excited about this project because it’s a historical fantasy novel that takes place in post-WWI London, a huge challenge for me. London is really dear to me, but I don’t have as vast a body of cultural knowledge about it as, say, someone who grew up there, so I’ve really gone head first in to researching every aspect of the city and its people around and at that time.
Tell us about some of your favourite books or art you’ve experienced – of all time or more recently. Why are they favourites?
When I’m not writing, I’m reading. I recently devoured Leigh Bardugo’s first adult fantasy novel, Ninth House. It was absolutely brilliant: gritty and dark, yet really beautiful and smart. I could still tell it was her writing, but it definitely felt like an adult versus a young adult fantasy work. I love smart fiction that makes me want to dive into learning new things as soon as I come up for air. In this case, I definitely want to know more about Yale’s secret societies — and if any other universities are hiding anything arcane and dangerous.
I also managed to snag a ticket to see the Van Gogh in London exhibit at the Tate this past spring. It was a really beautiful way at looking at the artist and his relationship to a city one might not at first associate with him. Having all that art of his in one place was also a really special experience, it was like greeting old friends who had stopped in from Paris, New York and Amsterdam. I did also delight upon seeing his own copies of novels he owned.
What advice would you give those who want to do what you do?
I think it’s important to absorb as much as you can, as often as you can. Listening is as important in writing as I think writing is, having your ear tuned in to everything all the time. It can be exhausting at first, but reaching for your notebook or notes app when something piques your interest simply becomes muscle memory. Writing is so much more than simply writing — it’s listening, reading, researching and thinking (to name a few). Recognizing that will make the process a lot more approachable.
Where can people see more of you and your work?
I have another little piece called ‘First Day,’ which you can find on the Brunel Special Collections blog. It’s about a girl going to pre-season field hockey practice and dealing with entering high school without her twin sister. I’m also always gabbing on Twitter about the writing process at @KxtieMxrie.