Sunday, May 6, 2012

Meeting Mary Higgins Clark

I read Loves Music Loves to Dance when I was in the 7th grade for a book report and I loved it. I was hooked. I read all the other books by Mary Higgins Clark. I was so happy to meet her on Friday night. She was there with her daughter, author Carol Higgins Clark. They were charming, funny, and intriguing. 

The secrets we learned:

Originally, Mary Higgins Clark killed off her characters Elvira in Weep No More My Lady, but her daughter convinced her to rethink the death.  For her latest book, her editor asked for a biblical story. It's the only book that isn't titled after a song.

Deck the Halls, their first collaborative book, was made into a movie last year - they both had cameos in it.

Mary Higgins Clark knew she wanted to be a writer. She was always writing skits that she and her brothers would perform together. They wanted more of a starring role, but as the writer, she chose the rolls. She wrote during math and sciences classes. She went to secretarial school, but then her father died and they needed money.  She started a job in advertising.

She just got engaged when she was offered the opportunity to be a Pan Am Stewardess for a year. She would be traveling and seeing Europe, Asia, and Africa. Her fiance told her to get the travel bug out of her system and they would get married at Christmas, when people were more generous.

When she stopped flying, she signed up for a class at NYU for short stories as she never thought she could write a book. She didn't realize she was a mystery writer. She sold her first short story for $100, but it was at a time when short stories were not selling. Her agent pushed her to write a book. She was researching George Washington for a radio show and discovered fascinating details of his life. She wrote a book and gushed to her agent over all the research. Her agent was less than happy as the book only sold 1200 copies. It was later reprinted as Mount Vernon Love Story. She wrote from 5-6:45 in the morning at the kitchen table as she was working full time. Now she has an office where she can leave her work out. Mary Higgins Clark wanted to write a book that would sell. She looked in her library and realized that she loved suspense. So she started writing suspense.

Carol, interested in acting, began typing up her mother's books and fell into writing. Her first book Decked, was a murder on a cruise ship. Her mother came up with the title. Carol looked around in her life for ideas from books. One item was a letter from a man who wanted to be her butler. Another was from her stint on a game show where she lost the big money because her partner's terrible clues. One that might make it to her book was an unknown person buried in their cemetery's family plot.

Her mother's advice " If someone's mean to you, make them a victim in your next book."

Mary Higgins Clark writing advice: Take a look at your bookshelf. What books to do gravitate towards? Choose that type of book to write.

I LOVED meeting her!


Alex said...

Great post. I used to read her books all the time and should get back to them. I love her advice to daughter Carol. I wonder how many times that has been done by authors.

Shalet Jimmy said...

You are lucky to meet her. I am a fan of Mary Higgins clark and now my attempts are to finish reading her books.....