But it’s not as easy, not as glib, to recognize the reality. Mary Higgins Clark personified her own heroines. Through incredible adversity, she persevered, fought her personal battles, and flourished. And triumphed. From a working mom typing at the kitchen table at the crack of dawn, she became a relentlessly hardworking, infinitely wise, and incredibly savvy career author. She knew what her readers craved, and she—with skill and exquisite talent—offered it to them with her unending grace and shared enthusiasm.
There is not one of us who doesn’t remember where we met her. I first saw her from afar at Malice Domestic, at a table in front of a line to sign her book so long that it doubled back again and again with a chain of readers who would have happily stayed there waiting even longer than they did. It felt as if we were getting an audience with royalty. And actually, we were.
Simon and Schuster, her only publisher for her 56 books, was so protective of her legacy that almost 20 years ago they established the Mary Higgins Clark Award, to be given each year to a book “most closely written” in the Mary Higgins Clark traditions: no graphic sex or violence or “strong” four-letter words, and starring a “nice” young woman who is not looking for trouble, and who solves her problems via her intelligence.
Was she our muse? Our teacher? Our spirit guide? A whole lineage of authors grew from that legacy. A few friends and colleagues gathered together to talk about Mary’s influence. Some were nominated multiple times for the Mary Higgins Clark Award; several won it, and Carol Goodman won twice—including this year.
Hank Phillippi Ryan: When you sit down to write a new book, is Mary Higgins Clark in your consciousness?
Catriona McPherson: She is, actually. Not her writing, but when I finally stop weeping and wailing and sit myself down in my comfortable study at nine in the morning to do nothing but write all day, I think of Mary at dawn at her kitchen table with her five children still asleep and a couple of hours till she needs to go out to work. It shames me into getting on with it.
Carol Goodman: In the sense that Mary Higgins Clark shaped my concept of romantic suspense, yes. I often think of how she found herself a widow with five children and figured out how to make a living writing these absolutely addictive books. If Mary Higgins Clark could figure out how to do that, my heroine can find her way out of whatever twisty trap I layout for her.
Lori Rader-Day: I couldn’t say that I’m writing with a vision of our patron saint Mary Higgins Clark in my head. I do sometimes recall what we all enjoyed so much about her kind of story, to remind myself what our readers come to a book for. Mary knew what readers wanted.
S.J. Bolton: She captured, perfectly, the sense of an ordinary woman being overtaken by extraordinary events. Her heroines are us, her readers, maybe the girls we were once, or the women we will become. Sometimes they seem to incorporate everything we believe ourselves to be at this moment in time. Their adventures are ours; we share their troubles and their triumphs. This instant connection with the reader is something I’m always striving for, because I know it’s key to a book’s success
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
WHEN BLOOD RUNS COLD
Why is spying often referred to as a game? There is nothing remotely diverting about it.
Sounds of Suspense
Very Original Paperback Originals
While Bailey Cates’s Witches and Wedding Cake(Berkley, $7.99) is the ninth in her Magical Bakery series, it was the first for me, and I appreciated that I could slide into the narrative effortlessly.
What About Murder?
Reference Books Reviewed
RAYMOND CHANDLER & THE BRASHER DOUBLOON
Sometime in 1960, a friend’s enthusiasm for coin collecting proved contagious, and I began sorting through pocket change and noting dates and mint marks.
Reviewing the Independents
LOVE ON THE RUN
LOVE, BULLETS, AND THE OPEN ROAD. CRIMINAL COUPLES ON THE RUN ARE A HOLLYWOOD MOVIE STAPLE—AND IT’S ALL DUE TO A PAIR OF DEPRESSION-ERA HELLRAISERS.
It’s that enticing-yet-elusive hook that often draws readers back to a writer’s work. Sometimes it’s characters that compel.
Before Camilla Läckberg’s debut novel was published, the Swedish author devised an ambitious, yet workable marketing plan. Among other things, she would visit, if possible, every bookstore in the country to do book events, sign stock and meet and greet as many booksellers and readers as she could.
A MARY HIGGINS CLARK ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION
It’s easiest to say she had magic. Anyone who has ever been in the room with Mary Higgins Clark understood there was some sort of aura around her, a force field of joy and delight, an authentic pleasure in being wherever she was. (If that wasn’t true, all the more brilliant. You would never have known it.)
A Wilmington, North Carolina, home gets a fresh look after hurricane waters ebb.
Remembrance & a Sacred Earth
LLEWELLYN VAUGHAN-LEE mourns our forgetting of our connection with the Earth, inviting us once more to remember, reconnect and rekindle the sacredness of that relationship in our lives.
Mary Cane: Gambler's daughter
Stories about pioneer Mary Cane are many; few are substantiated. Separating myth from fact is easier with ever growing digitized databases, but still many “facts” in the story of Mary Cane must be taken with grains of salt varying in size..
One of the best things that you can develop today is your connection to the source of your own inner wisdom.
‘DEADHEADS' MARKED FOR MURDER!
Twisted serial killer slaying rock band’s fans for decades!
The System: Zak Cheney-Rice
The Never-ending Coup Against Black America - Historically, “recovery” tends to look a lot like betrayal.
With a huge Netflix deal and the power to green-light just about anything, Ryan Murphy has become the ultimate insider. And his work is suffering.
You can master beautiful hand appliqué with these easy steps.
Oklahomans are adding plant-based items to their menus for a more health-conscious, colorful, and inclusive culinary experience.