Author Mary Higgins Clark is still keeping us in suspense


“I use the short chapters because once I’ve gotten across what I want to have happen in that chapter I’m not going to belabor it.  I want to leave a cliffhanger so that you have to read one more chapter before you go to bed,” she says.

Some critics scoff that her novels are formulaic, but in doing so they miss her considerable strengths -- her plotting is so deft, her characterization so skillful.

“If you’ve read a book that needs 15 pages of explanation to tell you what happened? Well, that’s not a good book,” she feels.

Olivia Morrow, the heroine of Higgins Clark’s latest, is one of her most memorable to date, and the author was inspired to create her in an unusual way.

“The book started last April when a bishop who’s a close friend of our invited us to the beautification ceremony of Mother Mary Angeline McCrory who was credited with a miracle. That’s what gave me the idea for this book. It’s a suspense story that is also a mystery,” she says.

In the book her doctor has told Olivia, who is 82, that she has two weeks to live. Complications ensue when Olivia realizes she’s the key to a series of fateful secrets that will make and break the fortunes of others, some of whom would prefer to have her out of the way before she confesses.

“Within the first seven pages you know that an 82-year-old and a 31-year-old are marked for death,” Higgins Clark says.

When you have sold 100 million books, just in the United States alone, how do you inspire yourself to continue? “What would I do? I never played golf or tennis or bridge. I have a very active social life, but I’d rather get up in the morning, have a cup of coffee and go to the computer than just fiddle around somewhere,” she says.

“I enjoy writing. As long as I think I can tell a good story I’ll do it.”