Favorite song to dance to? How about to cry to?
Alone in my living room you’ll catch me going bananas to Young Thug’s track “Wyclef Jean” from the Jeffery mixtape. The whole mixtape, actually. Or you might find me crying to “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes. Or you might find me getting crazy to Taylor Swift songs with my wife and son during one of our family dance parties.
Describe your personal hell.
Who or what always makes you laugh?
Two things. First, there’s currently this absolutely brilliant Dada stream of consciousness radio show called “Miracle Nutrition with Hearty White.” And second, way back in 2001, Ricky Gervais, Steve Merchant, and Karl Pilkington did this hilarious XFM radio show that cracks me up every time.
I don’t feel guilty for any of my pleasures.
What’s a gif or meme that you relate to?
I don’t relate to gifs or memes, but I am endlessly fascinated by Dennis Cooper’s gif novels.
What were you like in high school?
I graduated high school in 1996. I don’t remember much about it.
Most embarrassing Internet username you’ve ever had?
I don’t recall ever having one.
Where do you find inspiration lately?
I don’t believe in inspiration, but I get excited when I experience anything unusual.
Where did you write most of your book? Why?
In our little wooden townhouse in Tallahassee, Florida, because my wife and I were in grad school.
What was something surprising you learned while writing this book?
Empress Joséphine’s teeth rotted out so she never smiled.
Describe your struggles and strengths as a writer.
I struggle with sentences. Likewise, sentences are my strength.
Tell us a bit about your writing process. What works and what doesn’t? What doesn’t, but you keep trying it anyway?
More or less, I write every night and edit every morning. I never reverse those operations. At night I think on the page. In the morning I shape the thoughts. I usually listen to music when I’m writing but not when I’m editing. I read every sentence out loud while I’m editing, listening carefully to the harmonics both internal and in combination with the sentences before and after it. Sometimes I go long stretches without writing or editing. Sometimes I submit stuff in those periods. Sometimes I watch television shows or read books or play video games. Sometimes I over prepare for teaching my classes. Sometimes I get tired of writing. Sometimes, like John Cage, I’ve got nothing to say. But for me it’s never about “having something to say,” it’s more like I get burnt out on the process of thinking on the page and just keep it in my head and let it evaporate. I don’t write to say anything about anything to anybody. I write to write. That’s it. I do it for the same reason I watch every Lakers game and drink coffee and eat sugar: I’ve been doing it for a long time and it’s become a habit.
When did you realize you were a writer?
March 19, 1989.
Any suggestions for fellow writers?
If you’re in Los Angeles, get elote at Tacos Tu Madre. If you’re in New Orleans, get a Frozen Cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde. If you’re in Columbus Ohio, get the Pear Riesling at Jenny’s Ice Cream. If you’re in York Pennsylvania, get a glazed from Maple Donuts. If you’re in Tallahassee, get the Mayan milkshake at Lofty Pursuits. If you’re in Las Vegas, get a Bobbie at Capriotti’s. If you’re in Cheyenne, get perogies at Little Philly. If you’re on Maui, get the Caterpillar Roll at Miso Phat. If you’re in Denver, get potato oles at Taco Johns. I could go on, but those seem like some good suggestions, I think.
Christopher Higgs read a bunch of exciting books over the summer, including: Saidiya Hartman’s Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, Julietta Singh’s Unthinking Mastery: Dehumanism and Decolonial Entanglements, and Marlon James’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf. This past summer he also watched and enjoyed the entire run of both Silicon Valley and Z Nation. In addition, he listened to a good deal of P-Funk and Dub music, which reinforced his admiration for both George Clinton and Scientist. This fall he’ll teach a graduate seminar on failure, as well as his regular courses in creative writing theory and practice at Cal State Northridge. He recently celebrated his ten year wedding anniversary, and has nearly completed work on his next novel. Civil Coping Mechanisms published his memoir As I Stand Living in 2017.