Some people make a name for themselves such that they are remembered in golden words in history. Author Mary Higgins Clark is definitely among one those who wrote 51 books in her lifetime. All of her books became best-sellers in the United States as well as several European countries as well. Higgins truly left a legacy behind her which has become a role model for many to follow. The journey and life of Mary Higgins Clark is an interesting one indeed, with so many ups and downs, the end of which was a bestselling author and a top famous artist from New York.
Who was Mary Higgins Clark?
Mary Theresa Eleanor Higgins Clark was an American author who was born on December 24, 1927. She used to write suspense novels. Her first novel was “Where are the Children?” which became a kickstart for her career as well. Mary Higgins Clark wrote over 51 novels throughout her lifetime and died at the age of 92 in 2020 in Naples, Florida.
Early Life of Mary Higgins Clark
Mary Higgins Clark wasn’t always a writer in terms of profession. From a very young age, she used to write as a hobby. At the age of six, she began writing poetry. This hobby was not only extended to poetry as she also used to write diaries, random story ideas, and other forms of creative writing as well. At an early age, she also used to write plays for her friends so they could act in them. She even wrote about the death of her father at an early age, which gave her mother a troublesome time managing the entire family as several financial issues emerged as well.
Despite tough times, Mary Higgins Clark graduated from Saint Francis Xavier Grammar School. Due to her exceptional result, she got a scholarship at the Villa Maria Academy. After seeing her exceptional writing skills, Mary’s teachers appreciated her and encouraged her to pursue this passion even more. Although she had developed great writing skills at that time, her first attempt was a failure. She sent a piece of her work to True Confessions at the age of 16 but was denied.
After her college, she couldn’t just rely on writing alone to live a decent and financially stable life as her works were not getting much popularity. Therefore, she worked as a switchboard operator at the Shelton Hotel. Later, she used to work as a secretary in an advertising company as well as a stewardess for Pan-American Airlines. She left her job as a stewardess upon her marriage as she planned on giving her best to start a family. On the other hand, as a part-time job, she started writing short stories which used to earn the entire family some extra money.
One of the biggest tragedies Mary Higgins Clark faced in her life is when she lost her brother. As the entire family was struggling financially, her brother joined the Navy but soon caught spinal meningitis and passed away. While it was a big shock for the entire family, it certainly eased the financial burden of the family as they started to get a life pension from the Navy.
In 1949, Mary got married to William Clark.
The Career of Author Mary Higgins Clark
After her marriage, Higgins left her previous job as a stewardess. She joined writing workshops such as the one at NYU. This writing workshop went on for 40 years where the members would meet weekly. 2 members were supposed to present their work every week while new lessons were directed to the potential writers as well. The first story Mary Higgins Clark wrote during this time was “Stowaway”. Her professor liked the story but she was still not able to find a publisher to get the story public. Eventually, in 1956, Extension Magazine purchased one of her stories for $100.
Her career went under a break when her husband was diagnosed with Angina in 1959. He faced major heart attacks in the coming years. By the time his health got so poor that he couldn’t work, Higgins decided to start writing scripts for radio shows and leaving behind his personal motive for writing. However, the day she got her job, in 1964, her husband, as well as her mother-in-law, passed away. Her husband passed away from a heart attack while her mother-in-law was with her husband at the time of passing away and couldn’t bear the shock.
After her husband’s death, Higgins couldn’t focus on personal writing as she had to manage the finances. Things were quite miserable initially. For the first Christmas without Warren, all she could do for her children was gift them with poems that were focused on what she would give them if she had the money. Therefore, she started writing radio scripts and continued this work for many years. Her contract was for the “Portrait of a Patriot ” radio program. As her work was good, she was hired for 2 other radio series as well.
By the 1960s, the demand for short stories fell as many magazines struggled with finances. For this reason, they even stopped publishing fiction. Mary suffered during this time too. However, this is also considered to be a revolutionary time period as she finally got her attention to the novels. She spent three years writing a fictionalized account of the relationship between George and Martha Washington and named this novel, Aspire to the Heavens. This was not a suspense novel and rather was a unique form of love story. It was published in 1968 but wasn’t a successful one.
The Success of Author Mary Higgins Clark
After the failure of the first novel that she wrote, she decided to spend more time publishing a newer one. This was the time when she decided to go on with the suspense genre. Despite the fact that her brother died while she was writing this book, she still remained steadfast and completed the novel “Where are the Children?”. This novel was completed in 1975.
Surprisingly, this novel was a huge success as she soon received the paperback rights for this novel as it was sold for 100,000 dollars at that time. The novel became an instant bestseller as well. The novel was based on the element of classic thrill and suspense of a woman who had a bad secret associated with her past. The story comprises several interlinked stories, deaths, crime, marriage, and an element of suspense with mysteriousness as well.
Soon after her first novel, she wrote the second one in 2 years, which was sold for over $1.5 million. This novel was named “A Stranger is Watching”. This novel also belonged to the suspense genre surrounding a murder, with the murderer knowing the key witnesses as well. The story also revolves around several other characters, psychopaths, and a major series of ups and downs which led to the novel being an interesting one. It also became the best-selling novel by Mary Higgins Clark. In 1982, a film was also made on the novel with the same name.
Other popular writings by Mary Higgins Clark include “While My Pretty One Sleeps (1989)”, We’ll Meet Again (1999), Piece of my Heart (2020), and I’ve Got My Eyes on You (2018). Throughout her life, she received several awards and her writings got famous globally. Two of the most famous awards she got in her life include Grand Prix de Littérature Policière (1980) and the Deauville Film Festival Literary Award (1999).
How did Mary Higgins Clark Become Popular?
It is said that consistency is the key to success. One of the main reasons why she got popular and successful is because she didn’t leave her passion for writing even after many rejections. The first story which was purchased by Extension Magazine for $100 was only after 6 years of effort and 40 rejections. Even though she had increased family responsibilities by becoming a mother of 3, Higgins remained consistent in getting her story published. If Higgins stopped writing further after her first few rejections, she wouldn’t have improved or become a best-selling author later on.
Her books got major hype and popularity because she used to write in a very out-of-the-box way. The stories were not only unique but also had several links and connections from different parts of the books which made it all quite intriguing for the readers. Her books were full of suspense and always hooked up the reader to the point that people were never bored of them.
Another important reason why she got so popular was the fact that her work very precisely fit the definition of an outstanding suspense story. From having an experience of fitting everything into four-minute sessions on a radio channel, she developed to write succinctly which later helped her in her suspense novels as well.
Mary Higgins Clark has been one of the most popular writers of all time. Her works got massive popularity and she has truly left a legacy behind her. Many are still amazed at her thinking and writing skills which earned her fame even after her death. Despite her disturbing life, Higgins continued to work exceptionally, which eventually brought her success.