Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Meet a Writer: Jo Fredell Higgins

This month on the book page of the Catholic Post, I tried something a little different.  Instead of "Meet a Reader," in which I interview a local reader, I featured two local writers, and why they love to write.  On the blog, there are not space considerations, so I'm able to feature the longer answers and my mini-reviews.  Enjoy!

First is Jo Fredell Higgins, who has a long connection with the Catholic community in the Peoria diocese.  Her new book, A Song for Cecilia, is historical fiction located in Peoria, chock full of oral histories of longtime Peoria residents and local Catholic history.  I found the slice-of-life descriptions of places like the Academy of Our Lady, St. Bernard parish and other places in their early days charming. 

Who:  Jo Fredell Higgins

How you know me: I attended St. Thomas Grade School and the Academy of Our Lady in Peoria. I taught second and fourth grades at St. Cecilia's and third grade at St. Philomena's before relocating to Aurora, Ill. I worked with Msgr. Peters and Fr. Dietzen in 1963-4 before I left for ISU. Both priests were tremendous human beings.

Why I love writing: I always say I live in Aurora, but my heart belongs to Peoria so writing about Peoria is a love affair. I enjoy research at the Bradley Archives and also at the Peoria libraries. My childhood was spent at the Prospect Branch Library, the Glen Oak Park swimming pool and tennis courts.

My current book: My sixth book is titled A Song for Cecilia and centers on an Orphan Train child Cecilia Rose Delaney who comes west and is adopted by a prominent Peoria family.

My next writing project: I have already completed my next book. It is a memoir of the year I lived in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Its title is Souls: A Portrait of Belfast.  I will submit to publisher this summer sometime. I also write a weekly column for The Voice newspaper, a monthly column for Oracle magazine and do profiles for Patch Montgomery online newspaper.

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