Sunday, November 25, 2018

Ryan T. Higgins Interview - Santa Bruce

Photo Credit: Bethany McNaughton

Ryan T. Higgins grew up reading comics and exploring the woods beside his house. When he was assigned book reports in school, he did reports on Calvin and Hobbes. Ryan has always wanted to be a cartoonist, but he went to college to be an ecologist. If he couldn’t get a job making cartoons, Ryan’s plan was to live in the woods studying grizzly bears and writing stories about it. Ryan’s wife, Joanna, is very glad the kids’ book thing worked out because making books for kids is generally safer than living with grizzly bears.

Ryan’s books have been national bestsellers and he has received an E.B. White Award and an Ezra Jack Keats Honor. He works in a little cabin tucked in the woods behind his house.


Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
A lot of our lives are made up of the stories we tell ourselves. But when we tell stories to each other, we have a chance to connect, grow, learn, laugh, and be inspired. Storytelling is a way for listeners/readers/audiences to step outside their own stories and into someone else’s. It can be a form of escape from everyday life or a way to learn from others’ experiences. To me, storytelling is about making people laugh.

What is your happiest childhood memory?
Getting my first puppy. I was 7 or 8 and I couldn’t contain my excitement. I love dogs. They’re my favorite kind of people.

What made you decide to write books for children?
When I was young and not yet able to read on my own, I’d ask my dad to read me a book before bed. Instead, my dad preferred to just show us the pictures from books and make up his own stories. My dad is a great storyteller and his stories were often better than the originals. From then on, I wanted to tell my own stories as well as read other peoples.

What was the most memorable toy you played with from when you were little?
Teddy Ruxpin. I was terrified of that guy when my parents first brought him home. But after I got used to him, I brought him everywhere with me. We quickly discovered that his mouth would move in time with any tape you put in him. So I would put tapes in from a comedian I was really into at the time- it was hilarious to me to see/hear Teddy Ruxpin telling jokes in a really thick Maine accent!

What was your favorite subject when you were in school and why?
Science. Particularly, anything involving animals. I loved biology, ecology, and animal behavior. I still do. I wanted to be a cartoonist ever since I was little, but if that didn’t work out, I wanted to be a field biologist who lived with bears.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
I learned how to make my classmates laugh WITHOUT getting into trouble. I was a good student. I worked hard. I studied hard. I almost never got in trouble. But I liked to ham it up and get the class laughing. I learned just how far I could go before I became TOO annoying for the teachers.

In your new book; SANTA BRUCE, can you tell my Book Nerd Kids Community a little about it.
Bruce gets mistaken for Santa Clause by a little kid raccoon. Soon all the little kid animals of the forest swing by Bruce’s house to sit on his lap and tell him what they want for Christmas. Before Bruce can grumble too much about it, he gets roped into delivering presents to everyone. It was a fun story to work on. It allowed me to explore the other characters in Bruce’s neighborhood a bit more. And I love watching Bruce get dragged into doing nice things for others.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would love Bruce to meet Roz, from Peter Brown’s The Wild Robot. I feel like she and Bruce could commiserate over them both accidentally becoming moms to goslings. Plus, I just think Peter’s work is brilliant!

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a kid?
The 1980’s. It’s when I spent the first 7 years of my childhood. I think growing up when I did was the perfect time for me. My early childhood was mostly devoid of video games and I still had to look things up in books—we didn't’ have the internet until I was in late middle school. I think that gives me an appreciation of life before gaming and social media, but I was still young enough when those things came out that I was able to understand the new technology more naturally.

What is the last movie that you saw at the cinema?
The Yellow Submarine. We’re huge Beatles fans in our house and there was a 50th Anniversary showing of the movie at our local theater. It’s an old theater. The movie opened there back in 1968 and it hasn’t changed too much since then. It was a magical night. My son was enthralled.

What is your greatest adventure?
I love exploring the woods. I once hiked a chunk of the Appalachian Trail. Not the whole thing, just 100 miles of it. It was an adventure. Now, though, my favorite adventures are with my wife and kids. We recently discovered a path in the woods behind our house that meanders for a couple miles and comes out by an ice cream shop! We brought a lunch with us and ate it on a big rock by a little pond. Then we treated ourselves to ice cream. It was a little adventure, but sharing it with my favorite people made it bigger than my 100 miles on the A.T.

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep?
I wish I thought about something productive, like stories I could turn into books…but instead, I usually think about non-productive things like: motorbikes, puppies, and antique cars. Sometimes I think about what it might be like to be a bear or a fox or a coyote. Other times I plan out motorbike trips. Usually, just before I fall asleep, I remember several things I forgot to do that day.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
Becoming a dad. Going from the main character in your own life to a supporting character in your children’s lives is an amazing and scary thing. I both grew up AND rediscovered my inner child at the same time. The world is so full of possibilities for kids. And helping guide my kids through that world has been the most rewarding experience of my life.

Bruce is a lot of things. He is a bear. He is a grump. He is a pretty decent cook. And he is a mother.
One thing Bruce is not?

Santa Claus.

But that doesn't stop the whole forest from lining up to give him their Christmas wishes when he becomes the victim of mistaken identity - again.

Praise for HOTEL BRUCE

"The illustrations are delightful, with lots of visual humor for those who pay attention to details. . . . This latest installment is sure to enchant a wide audience." ―School Library Journal

Praise for BE QUIET!

* "This hilarious and fun read-aloud will be a hit at storytime." ―School Library Journal, starred review

* "Higgins has once again drawn up a winner." ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"[E]ntertainment gold." ―Publishers Weekly, starred review


"A funny, delightful argument both for and against a hermitic life." ―Kirkus Reviews

You can purchase Santa Bruce at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you RYAN T. HIGGINS for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Santa Bruce (Bruce #5) by Ryan T. Higgins.

1 comment:

  1. "What were you doing the last time you really had a good laugh?" Perhaps that was when I saw the trailer for that film about the aging Latin lover?