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Mary Theresa Eleanor Higgins Clark Conheeney (née Higgins; born December 24, 1927 in the Bronx, New York), known professionally as Mary Higgins Clark, is an American author of suspense novels. Each of her forty-two books has been a bestseller in the United States and various European countries, and all of her novels remain in print as of 2007, with her debut suspense novel, Where Are The Children, in its seventy-fifth printing. She is a minority owner of the New Jersey Nets.
Higgins Clark began writing at an early age. After several years working as a secretary and copy editor, Higgins Clark spent a year as a stewardess for Pan-American Airlines before leaving her job to marry and start a family. She supplemented the family's income by writing short stories. After her husband died in 1964, Higgins Clark worked for many years writing four-minute radio scripts, until her agent convinced her to try writing novels. Her debut novel, a fictionalized account of the life of George Washington, did not sell well, and she decided to leverage her love of mystery/suspense novels. Her suspense novels became very popular, and as of 2007 her books have sold more than 80 million copies in the United States alone.
Her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark, and daughter-in-law Mary Jane Clark are also a suspense writers.
To ensure that her children would not have to struggle financially, Higgins Clark was determined that they should have good educations. To provide a good example she entered Fordham University at Lincoln Center in 1971, graduating summa cum laude in 1979, with a B.A. in philosophy. Her children followed her example. The two eldest, Marilyn and Warren, have become judges, and Patty works at the Mercantile Exchange in New York City. David is the president and CEO of Talk Marketing Enterprises, Inc, and Carol has authored many popular suspense novels.
During this time Higgins Clark became increasingly frustrated with her employer, and, although two of her children were partially dependent on her for their college tuition, she quit her job and joined two of her former colleagues in forming their own company to write and market radio scripts. To scrape up the $5000 she needed to start the business, Higgins Clark was forced to pawn her engagement ring, and, for the eight months it took the company to become profitable, she did not receive a salary, further straining the family finances.
Higgins Clark continued writing even during these hard times. Encouraged by her agent to try writing another book, Higgins Clark returned to the suspense stories that she loved as a child and which had provided her first success as a short story writer. While she was in the midst of writing the story, her younger brother Johnny died, leaving her the sole surviving member of her family. To temporarily forget her heartache, Higgins Clark threw herself into her writing, and soon finished the novel.
Very quickly after the novel, Where are the Children? was completed, Simon and Schuster agreed to purchase it for the relatively small sum of $3000. Three months later, in July 1974, Higgins Clark received word that the paperback rights for the novel had sold for one hundred thousand dollars. For the first time in many years she had no immediate financial worries.
Where Are the Children? became a bestseller and was favorably reviewed. Two years after its publication Higgins Clark sold her second suspense novel for $1.5 million.
As of 2007, Higgins Clark has written twenty-four suspense novels, which have sold over 80 million copies in the United States. All of her suspense novels have been best-sellers, and as of 2007 all are still in print, including Where are the Children?, which is in its 75th printing. In 2001, the hardcover edition of Higgins Clark's On the Street Where You Live was Number One on the New York Times Hardcover Bestseller list at the same time that the paperback version of her novel Before I Say Good-bye reached Number One on the New York Times Paperback Besteller list. Her books are also number one bestsellers in France, and have earned her the distinction of being named a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters in France in 2000. She has also been honored in France with the Grand Prix de Literature Policier (1980) and the Deauville Film Festival Literary Award (1999).
Known as "The Queen of Suspense", Higgins Clark is a "master plotter" who has the ability to slowly draw out the tension while making the reader think everyone is guilty. Her novels feature strong, independent young women who find themselves in the midst of a problem that they must solve with their own courage and intelligence. The heroines come across as real people who make sensible decisions, which makes it easier for readers, who sometimes think " "that could have happened to me, or to my to daughter," to relate to the situations. Higgins Clark's books are written for adults, yet because she chooses not to include explicit sex or violence in her stories, they have become popular with children as young as twelve.
Many of the books deal with crimes involving children or with telepathy. While Higgins Clark is well aware that many people claiming to be psychics are behaving fraudulently, she believes that she has met people with genuine ESP powers. Higgins Clark's mother, on looking at a photo of her eighteen year old son in his brand new Navy dress blues told her daughter that "He has death in his eyes," and the young man died shortly after. A psychic Higgins Clark visited just as her second novel, Where Are the Children, was being published in paperback told her that she would become very famous and make a great deal of money. Although at the time she laughed off the prediction, the following week her novel reached the bestseller lists and she sold the movie rights shortly after, truly launching her career.Information source: wikipedia