Meet Carter Higgins, author of the upcoming Bikes for Sale.
Do you love reading? Writing? Illustrating? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you will love our new KIDBOX series, Behind the Book with Happily Ever Elephants.
In our second installment of this inaugural series, we are thrilled to introduce you to Carter Higgins, author of the upcoming Bikes for Sale, illustrated by Zachariah OHora.
Maurice rides his bike to his shop every day. Lotta rides her bike to collect sticks every day. Both go about their separate routines, unaware of the friendship that awaits them just a few blocks away. But what happens when a branch and a lemon peel get in the way? This delightful falling-in-like story from acclaimed picture book creators Carter Higgins and Zachariah OHora celebrates the power of coincidence to lead us to the friends we’re meant to meet all along.
Without further ado, here’s Carter!
KIDBOX: Carter! Welcome to Kidbox! Thank you for taking time to talk with our readers today — we are so glad you’re here! Our first question is one kids love to learn about. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
CH: Always, I think? I mean, I’ve always been a writer. I love to tell kids at school visits that we are essentially coworkers—I sit at my desk making up stories and so do they. Even though I always wrote (and wrote and wrote), I didn’t realize being a writer was a thing you could actually do for a job until about ten years ago. That’s when I got serious about writing for kids and pursuing a career as an author.
KIDBOX: Tell us something funny that most people don’t know about you.
CH: Did you know I won an Emmy? I spent a number of years as a visual effects artist, and our team won for graphic design and art direction on a documentary-style television show. I’ve got the statue on my bookshelf! It’s very shiny, even when I forget to dust it.
KIDBOX: An Emmy! That will look awesome sitting next to all of the children’s literature awards I have no doubt await you. Next question: Do you write yourself into any of your books?
CH: Not with intention, but I can definitely see threads of my own life woven in my stories. When I was a kid, I wanted a treehouse so badly—but we didn’t have a tree, and my next-door-neighbor had fallen out of hers and broken her collarbone, and it just wasn’t happening for me. That’s partly why I wrote Everything You Need for a Treehouse—now I have an entire book of magical treehouses. Turns out I didn’t really need the true thing.
KIDBOX: Oh no! I’m sure the broken collarbone didn’t help you win the treehouse battle. Speaking of battles, writing can feel like a battle sometimes. Who has been the most instrumental person to your writing career?
CH: My editor. It’s this bizarre partnership where you start as strangers, and their job is to help you pull out all of the emotional truth possible. She’s believed in my writing and my ideas and as a first reader, a preview of how our books will be received by young readers.
KIDBOX: Tell us 3 of your favorite picture books from your childhood, and 3 favorite picture books from the last 3 years. What made these books so special?
CH: There is an old, old copy of a Little Golden Book, Tommy Visits the Doctor, that lived at my grandparents’ house. As Tommy got his checkup, a little bunny visited a bunny doctor in parallel scenes. I loved those bunnies! I couldn’t have known at the time, but I think that structure influenced my love of visual stories. I also loved Go, Dog. Go! and have such strong memories of my parents reading it with me. We also had nearly every Berenstain Bears and Mercer Mayer Little Critters book. Remember those flimsy paperback spines?
Picking three favorites of the last few years is extraordinarily difficult, but ones I’ve been reaching for lately are Forever or a Day by Sarah Jacoby, My Heart by Corinna Luyken, and When’s My Birthday? by Julie Fogliano and Christian Robinson. All of them touch on what it feels like to be a kid, and those explorations are always the most resonant.
KIDBOX: Ooh! We absolutely love those recent three! Do you indulge in any guilty pleasures while writing?
CH: Taking breaks for coffee and popcorn! That’s more of a guilty pleasure than my habit of flossing my teeth when I get stuck. (I’m sure my dentist appreciates that!)
KIDBOX: There’s nothing like dental floss to get the party started! What do you to get into the writing zone?
CH: Turn off the internet. And sometimes, even turn off the computer. Writing longhand unlocks something that is always so delightfully surprising.
KIDBOX: What’s next on your writing agenda?
I’ve always got picture book texts on the brain, but I’ve also started embracing my art background and have been playing with some visual ideas for a brand new book. I’d love to be both an author and illustrator one day—I’m always inspired by those young coworkers of mine who are so free with their story making.
Thanks, Carter! Bikes for Sale, by Carter Higgins and illustrated by Zachariah OHora will be on sale everywhere on April 2, 2019 (Chronicle Books). But don’t delay – you can preorder it now from most booksellers, including Amazon and IndieBound.
Lauren Bercuson is the founder of Happily Ever Elephants, a blog that celebrates children’s literature and helps parents, educators and children discover books that get two “trunks” up! You can find the blog at happilyeverelephants.com and follow Lauren on Instagram @happily.ever.elephants for fantastic reviews and book lists.