Mary Higgins Clark – The Queen of Suspense

A Lasting Legacy of Stories

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Legendary mystery author Mary Higgins Clark, The Queen of Suspense, brought her career full circle with her just-released book (published posthumously) Where Are the Children Now?

Co-authored with Alafair Burke (her co-author on several books), this is a sequel to her first mystery novel, published forty-eight years ago, Where Are the Children?

A breakthrough novel for its psychological approach to suspense and record sales in the millions, Higgins Clark’s first mystery is in its 75th printing.

With 56 bestsellers and loyal readers around the world, more than 100 million copies of her books are currently in print in the U.S. alone.

Incorporating many of her experiences and Irish heritage into her stories, Higgins Clark often chose settings for her books on the coastlines of her native New York, Massachusetts, and California.

Prior to launching her writing career, she worked as a secretary, copy editor and stewardess for Pan American Airlines.

A believer in hard work, she had experienced difficult times firsthand when her father died and her mother took in boarders to make ends meet, which Higgins Clark wrote about in her book Kitchen Privileges: A Memoir. Later when her first husband died, Higgins Clark was left with five children to support.

“Nothing came easy,” she said. It took six years and 40 rejections before her first short story, “Stowaway,” about a Czechoslovakian stowaway on an airplane, was accepted by Extension magazine.

Later, her first book, Aspire to the Heavens, a novel about George and Martha Washington, was published, but was less successful than she had hoped.

When Higgins Clark decided to write a different type of book – a suspense novel about missing children – her career took off. Where Are the Children? published by Simon & Schuster in 1975, was a blockbuster and introduced the world to the woman who would soon be known as The Queen of Suspense.

SurfWriter Girl Patti was fortunate to meet Higgins Clark at a mystery writers conference and remembers talking to the author about the ending of one of her short stories, saying that the twist in the plot gave her chills. Higgins Clark laughed and said that it gave her chills, too.

At the conference Higgins Clark spoke about the craft of writing and how she got ideas, advising us to “add a little romance into the story.” Suspense and romance were the mix that kept her readers coming back.

The fact that she was a master of plotting and misdirection made for one bestseller after another. Like another grande dame of mysteries, Agatha Christie, Higgins Clark kept finding stories to keep us turning the pages late at night to see whodunnit.

True to her Irish roots, down-to-earth, gutsy, and enormously talented, Mary Higgins Clark (1927-2020) never gave up on her writing dream…and because of that has left us a legacy of stories to entertain us and generations to come.

Surf’n Beach Scene Magazine

SurfWriter Girls

Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to this copyrighted material. Publications wishing to reprint it may contact them at Individuals and non-profit groups are welcome to post it on social media sites as long as credit is given.

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