Feminism: Reinventing the F-Word (cover below), her new Spring 2016 YA nonfiction title for TFCB. In its recent starred review, Booklist praises the work, saying, “Higgins' Feminism: Reinventing the F-Word offers a comprehensive and stunningly up-to-date account of the history of feminism.…With plenty of grassroots organizations listed in the back matter and photos of a diverse array of women, cis and otherwise, peppering the pages, Higgins invites burgeoning feminists to find their own places among the vast movement." And the starred review from VOYA says, "Higgins adds a new flavor to the definition of feminism by including issues of race and expanding gender definitions, giving deeper meaning to the fight for equal rights." Here is an excerpt from my conversation with Nadia. How did you become a nonfiction writer? I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. Like most writers, perhaps, I imagined myself writing fiction—and I have published some works of fiction for children—but nonfiction is my strength and my passion. The truth is, working in nonfiction began as a practical necessity for me. I loved words. I wanted—needed--steady work. A job at a newspaper was the most reliable gig around. I was over the moon when I got my first job as an editorial assistant at a newspaper in Washington, DC. Back then, my main duty was to type in the changes that the editors made in red pen on paper manuscripts. I saw manuscripts transform from muddled, unconvincing jumbles into sparkling, incisive prose. It was magical!
Marybeth Lorbiecki showed me just how tough I needed to be. I remember 45-minute conversations about books that were 400 words long. Marybeth challenged every line that came by her, asking “Why?” “Why not?” or “What else?” She taught me how to respect young readers’ intelligence and outlook. I still hear her voice in my head when I write.
For teens who are interested in writing, what tips would you offer them?
All the writing experts will tell you the same thing, and they are correct. To be a writer, you must write, write, write! It almost doesn’t matter what you are writing as long as you are practicing your craft every day. If you’re stuck on what to write about, find a book of writing prompts, and work your way through it. Don’t worry if it’s bad! Every author in the world has written pages of cringingly awful stuff. You can go through later and cross out the junk. But as you do, circle the gems that will inspire even more writing.
Also—and this is so important--find a way to make writing a habit. Set a daily goal, as little as ten minute a day. Do it at the same time every day. Find a favorite writing spot or make a promise to a writing partner. All those tricks will help you keep writing, even when it feels too hard.
What are some of your favorite books, fiction or nonfiction, that you have read or are reading for pleasure? The single book that I have read more times in my life than any other is Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery. That beloved title represents one category of favorite books: books that are like friends to keep me company. Other books that fall into this category are Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Middlemarch by George Eliot, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, and Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. I love the eloquence, the understanding, the heartbreak, and the dazzling female heroines in all those classic novels.
"Our Bodies, Our Shelves" from mid-January of this year. It discusses Nadia’s Feminism book in the context of two other fabulous new YA nonfiction titles with women’s issues at their core: Amber J. Keyser’s exploration of young teen women making decisions about sex in The V-Word (Simon & Schuster, 2016) and Vicki Oransky Wittenstein’s timely examination of birth control and other family-planning issues in Reproductive Rights (TFCB, 2016).