Chloe Higgins to speak on debut book The Girls at Harry Hartog Narellan

Chloe Higgins with copies of her debut book, The Girls.
Chloe Higgins with copies of her debut book, The Girls.

Chloe Higgins was just 17 when she lost her two younger sisters in a horrific car accident.

Fifteen years later, her debut book The Girls delves into her life following this traumatic event.

The former Mount Pritchard resident will visit Narellan's Harry Hartog bookstore on Wednesday, February 26 to talk about the book and its themes.

The event will be a conversation between Higgins and fellow writer Eda Gunaydin.

"We'll talk about grief, love, feminism, Western Sydney, writing, everything," Higgins said.

"It's not just a book signing."

The University of Wollongong lecturer said it wasn't until The Girls, published by Pan Macmillan Australia, picked up the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Non-Fiction that she could finally wrap her head around having a published book.

She said one of the most surprising things to come out of writing her book was receiving letters from mothers.

"One of the most interesting and unexpected things that happened after the book was released was the number of letters I received from mothers saying they could now understand their introverted daughters," Higgins said.

"My mother is quite extroverted and I am more introverted, and we've got different politics and worldviews.

"I touch on that really universal thing of young girls growing up and figuring out who they are and how to be their own independent, separate person, and the fact that mothers need to let that happen."

Higgins said lots of people had asked her it if was difficult to revisit the most painful times of her life for this book.

Her sisters Carlie and Lisa were killed after coming back from a ski trip when the car they were travelling in with their father veered off the highway, flipped on its side and burst into flames. Higgins was home studying for her HSC with her mum Rhonda at the time.

Higgins' father walked away with minor injuries

"Often people assume that writing this book about the death of my sisters in 2005 would be really difficult," the author said.

"But I actually found it to be therapeutic and a positive experience.

"I learned so much about myself, about my parents and about life every day while I was writing.

"I learnt about the very real connection between mind and body, and grief, how to communicate."

Higgins said her parents were "very supportive" of her work, even though her mother had some apprehension ahead of its release.

"She was a bit worried about opening up our lives to the public and how people would react, but we've only had support and really lovely messages," she said.

Higgins hopes her readers take as much out of the book as she learnt writing it.

"I think the best memoirs don't tell the readers a story but ask a question and invite them to come along and solve it with the writer," she said.

Higgins said it took many years and lots of practise writing in different styles and forms before she was ready to release The Girls into the world.

She is currently working on her second book and hopes she can be an inspiration for other western Sydney writers.

"We have such a strong literary community in the west," she said.

'In Conversation with Chloe Higgins' will be held at Harry Hartog Narellan (in Narellan Town Centre) from 6pm tomorrow, Wednesday, February 26.

Tickets are $5 and available from the store's Facebook event page.