One of the most celebrated American authors, Mary Higgins Clark is the doyen of modern suspense genre. In the span of 30 years of her writing, this woman of letters has penned more than 40 novels till date, each of which has been a bestseller in the United States and various European countries. Many of her novels have been adapted into feature films including her debut suspense novel Where Are the Children?, and others like A Stranger Is Watching and You Belong To Me.
Since it would be enthralling for the readers of suspense genre to hear from this veteran suspense author, we have managed to catch up with Mary Higgins Clark on her recent suspense novel “The Lost Years“. Check out what our questions and her respective answers were:
Your readers are eager to learn about “The Lost Years“. Can you tell us what’s the Book all about?
A biblical scholar, Jonathan Lyons, is murdered shortly after his discovery of what may be a most valuable parchment in the history of mankind. He believes he had found a letter from the Christ to Joseph of Arimathea thanking him for the kindness Joseph had always extended to Him. Jonathan’s daughter, Mariah, has not seen the parchment but learns it may have been shown to four other biblical scholars. Her mother, Kathleen, a victim of Alzheimers, is arrested for her father’s murder. Kathleen had been enraged because she had learned that Jonathan was involved with another woman. Mariah takes upon herself the task to learn if her father’s death has anything to do with the missing parchment and to vindicate her mother.
Tell us about the origins of the book.
My editor of 38 years, Michael Korda, and I have lunch after a manuscript has been turned in and discuss the next one. It was Michael’s suggestion that a biblical background, specifically a letter written by Christ, would be both original and compelling.
Give us a brief of the characteristics of the top three leading characters in the book.
Mariah is a 28 year old woman – an investment banker and an only child. She is devoted to both her parents but angry at her father because of his affair and the pain it is causing her mother. Her search for the truth of her father’s death is compiled with the guilt she feels of having relentlessly made sarcastic references about his mistress.
Kathleen, a beautiful, charming woman is a victim of swiftly moving Alzheimers. Arrested and handcuffed, angry at her husband’s unfaithfulness, she is now bewildered and unaware of what is happening as she is charged with murder.
Four biblical experts must be classed together as leading characters because otherwise too much of the plot would be revealed.
The Lost Years is said to be your most astonishing novel to date. What do you think makes it so?
I believe that I have handled what is a sacred object in a reverent and theologically possible manner. The concept of using a parchment written by Christ against the background of a murder frightened me. I was afraid it might be considered at least irreverent if not sacrilegious and that is not the case.
Now, tell us something about your writing passion. When and how did you enter into the world of writing?
I was born into the world of writing from the time I was 6 years old when I could put sentences together. It is my only talent. I can’t sing and have no sense of rhythm. If I put a flower in the ground, it will die. I am compelled to write.
You are recognized as the America’s Queen of Suspense. What do you think is the hardest part of writing a suspense novel?
The beginning: The plot. Is it compelling emotionally? Is it believable? Who are the characters and what is their background? Will readers want to turn the next page to see what’s happening?
Who were and are your major influences from suspense genre?
All wonderfully plotted, emotionally satisfying and beautifully written.
You have given so much over the course of your career. What are your goals for the future? Do you have another story on the boiling pot?
I will always be a writer. It is a necessity in my life.
Yes, I have another story on the ‘boiling pot’. I’m asking myself the same questions I refer to when I responded to the hardest part of writing a suspense novel.
What would you like to say to writers who are reading this interview?
If you haven’t been published yet, don’t give up. Consider self-publishing. The Writer magazine regularly refers to the ‘how to’ of it. Remember those of us who are successful have a basic talent for telling a story, the desire to keep going and the third most important ingredient – the need to write. If you have a need to write you will shake off rejections and begin again, and you will find your way.