Jane Higgins

Photo credit: Phil Teague

I was born in Christchurch, New Zealand. Over the years I traveled away to various places in NZ and elsewhere, but I came back to Christchurch in the 1990s and live there still, with my husband, Paul. It's a shaky place, my home town, since the earthquakes of September 2010 and February 2011 (and their thousands of aftershocks). As a city, we're still not back on our feet, but we're getting there.

Growing up, I read a lot of classic science fiction, fantasy and myth, and was captivated by the astonishing beauty and strangeness of the universe and by the writers who explored it – in fiction and non-fiction. I tried some exploring of my own, in the company of the very cool people in the Canterbury Astronomical Society – people who made their own telescopes and tracked the patterns of the solar system from their own backyards. I watched Dr. Who (almost, but not quite, from the beginning), Star Trek (favourite episode: The Trouble with Tribbles – great, because so silly) and The Prisoner (great, because so weird), and kept reading.  I went to university and completed a degree in astronomy and mathematics and thought about spending my life sitting on a mountain being an astronomer.

A trip away to Europe, post-degree, derailed those ambitions.  Seeing serious poverty and serious preparations for war for the first time was a powerful experience. I came home to study social science and learn from some amazing people about its concrete expression in the world through campaigns against poverty, oppressive labour laws and racism in New Zealand and elsewhere.

I became an academic at the University of Canterbury and later at Lincoln University, specializing in research with young people about their lives (for more on that see this). I wrote a lot of non-fiction for academic journals, kept reading and finally had a go at writing a novel.

I was lucky to be part of the inaugural intake of the Hagley Writers’ Institute – more wonderful people, including tutors and fellow scribblers. In their company, The Bridge grew from a short story into something longer and more complicated.

I still work as a researcher with young people, still read, still write (and still watch Dr. Who). I'm not at Lincoln University anymore - I'm involved instead as a community-based researcher and evaluator, working with communities in post-quake recovery. It's an inspiring place to be.

I've recently finished Havoc (a sequel to The Bridge), also published by Text. And now, I'm writing something new.