MARY HIGGINS CLARK, "QUEEN OF SUSPENSE"
Updated: Mar 26
FAMOUS WOMEN AUTHOR SERIES
MARY HIGGINS CLARK, “QUEEN OF SUSPENSE”
It has been said that every famous author has a voice or tone that the reader recognizes as they read the works of their favorite author.
Is that true? If so, what an awesome thought! I think so, it seems to me that everything I have ever read has had a very unique personality, whether it is entertaining, instructional, spiritually uplifting or whatever it may be.
On January 31, 2020, the voice of our next author in our FAMOUS WOMEN AUTHOR SERIES, MARY HIGGINS CLARK, was stilled.
Quoted as a message from Carolyn K. Reidy, President & CEO of Simon & Schuster.
“It is with great sadness that I write to inform you that Mary Higgins Clark died January 31, 2020 in Naples, Florida, at the age of 92. The cause was complications of old age.
It is impossible to overestimate the importance of Mary’s contribution to our success, and her role in the modern history of Simon & Schuster. Beginning in 1975 with the publication of WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN, each of her 56 books has been a bestseller. There are more than 100 million copies of her books in print in the United States; they are international bestsellers and have been translated into every major and many less well-known languages.
From Wikipedia we read the following:
Mary Theresa Eleanor Higgins Clark, (December 24, 1927 – January 31, 2020)
Known professionally as Mary Higgins Clark, was an American author of suspense novels. Mary began writing at an early age. After several years working as a secretary and copy editor, she spent a year as a stewardess for Pan-American Airlines before leaving her job to marry and start a family. She supplemented the family income by writing short stories. After her husband died in 1964, Mary worked for many years writing four-minute radio scripts until her agent persuaded her to try writing novels. Her debut novel, a fictional account of the life of George Washington, did not sell well, and she decided to exploit her love of mystery/suspense novels. Her suspense novels have sold more than 100 million copies in the United States alone. Her daughter Carol Higgins Clark and her former daughter in law, Mary Jane Clark, are also writers.
Mary had invited a neighbor, Warren Clark, to attend a goodbye dinner hosted by her employer before she went to work for the airlines. She had greatly admired Warren for years. By the end of the evening Warren had informed her that he thought she should work as a stewardess for a year, and then they should be married the following Christmas. Mary accepted the somewhat unorthodox proposal.
At the end of her year of flying, on December 26, 1949, Mary happily gave up her career to marry Warren Clark. To occupy herself, she began taking writing courses at NYU and, with some of her classmates, formed a writing workshop in which the members would critique each other’s works-in-progress. The workshop, which persisted for almost forty years, met weekly. At each meeting two members would have twenty minutes to present their latest work. The other members would then have three minutes each to offer constructive criticism.
While a student at New York University, one of her professors told the class they should develop plot ideas by reading newspapers and ask themselves prompts such as, “Suppose …?, “What if…?, and “Why…?, etc. Over the years she still used that technique as she developed ideas for her books. For one of her assignments, she used this method to expand her own experiences as a stewardess into a short story called “Stowaway” about a stewardess who finds a stowaway from a foreign country on her plane. Her professor offered high praise and a high grade, Mary was frustrated in her attempts to find a publisher. Finally after six years and forty rejections, Extension Magazine agreed to purchase the story for $100.
Meanwhile, Mary and husband were very busy. Their first child, Marilyn, was born nine months after their wedding, with Warren Jr., arriving thirteen months later. A third child, David, was born two years after his brother. Two months after the short story sold, the fourth baby made her appearance and was promptly named Carol, after the heroine in her mother’s story. After selling that first short story, Mary began regularly finding homes for her works. Through the writer’s workshop she met an agent, Patricia Schartle Myrer, who represented Mary for twenty years. They became such good friends that Mary named her fifth and final child after her.
In 1959, Warren Clark was diagnosed with severe angina, he suffered three heart attacks within the next five years which left him in poorer health. After the last heart attack in 1964, they felt Warren would be unable to return to work. Mary called a friend who wrote scripts for radio shows and asked if there were any job openings. The day she accepted a job writing the radio segment “Portrait of a Patriot” Warren suffered a fatal heart attack. His mother, who was visiting at the time, collapsed at his bedside, upon discovering he was dead. In one night, Mary lost both her husband and her mother-in-law.
Mary went on to return to school at Fordham University earning a degree in philosophy as an example to her children. Her children followed her example. The two eldest, Marilyn and Warren have become judges. Patty works at the Mercantile Exchange in New York, David is the President and CEO of Talk Marketing Enterprises, Inc. and Carol has authored many popular suspense novels.
HER PROFESSIONAL WRITING CAREER
Her publication dates range from 1968, Aspire to the Heavens, later reissued as Mount Vernon Love Story in 2000, to 2001 Kitchen Privileges: A Memoir. Theatrical and television adaptation dates range from 1982 to 2019.
In summary, a very successful and prolific career producing popular short stories, novels, movies and television shows!
HOW MANY MARY HIGGINS CLARK BOOKS HAVE YOU READ?
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE?
I greatly admire MARY HIGGINS CLARK as she overcame adversity, raised a successful family of accomplished children and became a successful author.
May I recommend any of her books in our quest to ENCOURAGE LITERACY, LEARNING AND PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT!
Thank you for reading! By the way, reading is a great way to relieve the stress of our current situation. There is nothing like getting lost in a good book!