Interviews with people who inspire me #Megan Higginson
Today, I'm excited to be interviewing the incredible Megan Higginson! We'll be covering important topics like vegetables, fear, books, and libraries! Plus some other stuff too.
Introducing Megan Higginson
Megan Higginson is an author, artist, international speaker, street library ambassador, a dyslexic book worm, a mother, a qualified youth worker and education support worker, and a retired horse whisperer! Megan believes in living an amazing life even with a chronic illness and encouraging kids and adults not to give up.
We have Megan here today, so let’s ask her some questions!
Do you like broccoli?
As long as it’s steamed and still has a slight crunch. I even liked it as a kid. (Gasp) I convinced myself they were little trees and I was a Diplodocus and I gobbled them up.
Please tell us about your newly released picture book, Raymund and the Fear Monster.
Blurb: At the top of an enormous mountain is a dark and gloomy forest. In the dark and gloomy forest lives a monster who roars and growls and makes terrible noises. Raymund lives in a small village at the bottom of the enormous mountain. Raymund is scared of many things. But, most of all he is afraid of the night, and the monster that sends him running to hide under his bed. How will Raymund face his fear, discover what it means to have courage, and defeat the huge and hideous monster that smells like fish guts, rotten eggs and smelly feet?
My fellow writers' group member, children's book illustrator, Ester de Boer and I have co-created my story Raymund and the Fear Monster. Ester has "ferociously coveted the job of illustrating this one, as the message is so true and practical."
This story was inspired by the children that I met while volunteering in a Philippine orphanage. Raymund teaches that being courageous isn't about feeling brave but stepping out when you don't.
Ester is a special needs teacher, and she has informed me that she is excited "about a children's book that actually teaches proven strategies for managing anxiety in a book which (WE PROMISE!!!) will not look like a community health brochure."
We now have Raymund in our hands and it is gorgeous. It’s different from other picture books. It doesn’t look like a little kids picture book. And the illustrations are exquisite. Absolute works of art in Ester’s natural style.
Aside from themes covered in your book is there anything you’d like to share today with our readers about fear?
Fear is not a bad thing. It can keep us on our toes. It can keep us safe. However, fear can also become disabling and hold us back from all we’re meant to be and then we never realise our full potential because we are too scared to take risks. This could be as simple as being too scared to take public transport, too afraid to sign up for a course you’re interested in, too worried about speaking in front of a group even though it’s a topic you’re passionate about, or even too scared of what might happen if you try to get out of bad situation. Fear can trap you. Learning to understand it and to embrace it and walk out in courage is what is needed. (Whoops! I am a little bit passionate about the subject).
As a Christian, how would you say your faith has affected the expression of your creativity and your involvement within your community?
About six years ago, I got hold of a book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This was such an eye opener for me on many levels. One line stands out on page 33 under Creative Affirmations. 3. As I create and listen, I will be led. I always pray before I write, and not one story has been ‘Christian’. I also say yes to any opportunity to use the gifts and talents I have. And one of them is painting some street libraries for our local community.
As a book lover, please tell us about one fond bookish based memory.
My fondest memory would be sitting up a silky oak tree reading a book. I believe it was The Magic Faraway Tree. I finished the book, closed my eyes, and made up my own characters and we went off on adventures. Of course, I told no one as I thought I was crazy. It wasn’t until recent years I discovered that this is what authors do.
You host not one, but two street libraries! Firstly, for readers who are unfamiliar with street libraries, please explain the basics of what they are and how they work.
Street Libraries are a beautiful home for books, planted in your front yard. They are accessible from the street, and are an invitation to share the joys of reading with your neighbours.
Street Libraries are a window into the mind of a community; books come and go; no-one needs to check them in or out. People can simply reach in and take what interests them; when they are done, they can return them to the Street Library network, or pass them on to friends.
If anyone has a book or two that they think others would enjoy, they can just pop it into any Street Library they happen to be walking past.
They are a symbol of trust and hope – 'a tiny vestibule of literary happiness.’ Street Library Australia
So far what has been the most exciting thing about hosting a street library?
Most Street Librarians have a library with books for everyone. So, board books right through to adult books. My libraries are age specific. I have a Just for Kids Library and a Just for Teens Library. (Although, I did see an older lady from around the corner borrow a book the other day for herself.) I think the most exciting thing is hearing back the difference that having a library is having on the kids at the local school. They now want to learn to read, whereas before they did not. That is really exciting.
And what advice do you have for people who might be considering hosting a street library?
Just go for it. You can build your own out of anything as long as it’s waterproof. Or you can buy one already made from Street Library Australia. It’s important to register your library once it’s up on your fence line. Once your library is registered it gets put on the Street Library website on their map. This means anyone can find it. You could travel all over Australia and borrow a book at a Street Library in Victoria and swap it for one in Queensland.
It also encourages community. I’ve heard some wonderful stories from other Street Librarians about the sense of community which has sprung up after they put in a street library in their front yard.
What’s one thing you’d like to say to children or adults who might be struggling with dyslexia?
Never give up.
What is the most memorable thing a child has said during one of your writing workshops?
Two stick out. On more than one occasion a child sitting in the front row has looked at me about halfway through the presentation with a huge grin on their face and has said, ‘You’re weird, like me.’ Yay!
Another time I had shared how, as a child, I would close my book and my eyes and characters would come into my head and talk to me and we’d go on adventures. I never told anyone as I thought I was crazy. However, now I know that this is what writer’s do. We broke into groups and went off to do the workshop part of the presentation. When we came back there was this boy sitting with his eyes shut and a huge grin on his face. He opened his eyes and looked at me, his eyes sparkling. I asked him what he was thinking about. He replied, ‘I’m talking to my characters. They’re fun.’
And finally, what is the most exciting thing about being a speaker?
To be able to share subjects which I’m passionate about with others and to be able to inspire the audience.
Thank you, very much for your time, Megan. It’s been an honour to speak with you.
Check out the links below if you’d like to find out more about the incredible Megan Higginson and her work.
Megan Higginson's Website
Megan Higginson on Facebook
Megan Higginson on Twitter
Megan Higginson on Pinterest
Megan Higginson on Instagram
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