Amber Higgins


Tell us a little about yourself – how long have you been writing? Any publications? 

I’ve been putting stories on paper since grade two, but I imagine my story writing started in my toddler years, where I spent countless hours in a vast imaginary world. I can still remember the names of the characters in it. To name a few: Swampy and Raviney, BBQ the dog, and a boy named Celery. As far as work that I’m proud of, I entered the writing program at the University of Victoria a few years ago and just finished my final semester. It’s been here that I’ve really honed my skills as a writer. Through rigorous workshops with supportive peers and professors that I consider both friends and mentors, I’ve learned so much. In regards to publication, I’ve only just started to feel comfortable sending my work out. I do have two poems forthcoming in Tinderbox Poetry Journal. Yay!


Specifically, tell us a bit more about your longlisted story – the inspiration behind it, the writing of it…

I wrote Little Moon during my third year fiction workshop at UVic. The inspiration came when my partner Jake and I were visiting the Sunshine Coast, British Columbia — where our families live — for Thanksgiving. We were on a mushroom picking adventure in the woods, and I was struck by the muted sounds and the smells of fungus and rotting logs. I took pictures and videos on my phone because I knew I would write about it. Most of the locales that appear in Little Moon are places that I’ve lived or spent time, such as the Okanagan and Nelson, BC. I gravitate towards writing about places I know, because authentic sensory details are so important to me. This can sometimes hold me back, though. I admire other writers that can set their stories in places they’ve never visited, using only research. The writing happened like most of my work: I wore the same pyjamas for days, ate nothing until Jake cooked for me/forced me to eat it, and then I looked down at my hands to find that my nails were bitten to stubs. Fun! I do write line-by-line, with a painful focus on the music of each word. I’ve never been able to hammer out a story — or a poem — then go back and edit. I’ve learned that I need to give myself adequate time beforehand to meet a deadline. 


Name three short story writers you especially admire – why?

This is always a very hard question. Alice Munro is a given, not only because she’s a Canadian girl and extremely prolific, but she is unparalleled — in my mind— in her development/exploration of character.  I also love John Cheever for his use of metaphor. And Lorrie Moore, because I can’t write humor and really admire those who can. Also because of that feeling of honesty in her stories.