Carol Higgins Clark:
Master of Mysteries
The publication of Hitched couldn’t be better timed: April is when June brides start making their final moves about their wedding dresses, as they do in Carol Higgins Clark’s latest Regan Reilly mystery. “Everyone said it was time she got married,” says the lively, upbeat author about her private investigator protagonist. Regan, now 31, is soon to be the wife of Jack “no relation” Reilly, a NYC detective, but not before both of them solve a seemingly unrelated pair of crimes –the theft of Regan’s wedding dress, along with four other gowns, from a downtown shop, and a number of bank robberies–Jack’s turf–all committed by a mustached, medium-built figure in a raincoat. Hitched is the 8th in the Regan Reilly series.
Her main purpose, Carol Higgins Clark explains, is “to write books that entertain.” She quotes a reporter who once remarked that her mother, the well-known mystery writer Mary Higgins Clark, goes for the jugular while she, Carol, aims for the funny bone. Indeed, Hitched has an array of “quirky” characters and pursues a plot line somewhere between zany and serious. She notes that the subject matter may owe something to recent media coverage of stolen wedding gowns and maybe to a saying she once heard that “hell hath no fury like a woman without a wedding dress.” Anyway, not everyone in Hitched gets married, but the dynamic duo do due diligence to a satisfying conclusion.
Carol Higgins Clark was always attracted to writing but finally took the plunge when a friend who saw her in a play in Los Angeles suggested that her acting career (she had been doing commercials since six) might provide a chance for her not only to star in scenes but to create them as well. The suggestion fell on fertile soil: she had always worked closely with her mother, typing all her manuscripts. Mother and daughter still discuss and critique each other’s work. She also loves getting “feedback” from the public and is supportive of writing programs that require assignments, a great prompt to be disciplined, and that encourage constructive criticism. Of course, when she talks to school kids about her books, as she recently did with 7th and 8th graders at St. Ignatius Loyola, she is often asked first about the money she makes from her various novels, “but they’re also interested in research,” she adds, and she hopes that after reading her work they will be moved to do more reading on their own. She points out that because her books are free of four-letter words and violence, younger readers might also find them appropriate as well as “fun.”
Although her writing life was strongly influenced by her mother, she also cites the influence of such classics as Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird and John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley, the latter an on-the-road book, which got her to thinking about doing a series, keeping Regan on the road. An American Studies major at Mt. Holyoke, Carol Higgins Clark cites mentors there as well as an acting teacher in Beverly Hills. She smiles as she recounts interviews where she is urged to disclose family “tensions.” There are none: none to disclose, none, period. Mother and daughter are close. Carol has recorded several of Mary’s books and was the lead in a film based on her mother’s A Cry in the Night, which was shown at Cannes and Montreal and on U.S. television. Incredibly prolific, Carol Higgins Clark turns out a book a year, not to mention the best-selling Christmas mysteries she does with her mother. They tour together. Mary Higgins Clark’s newest mystery, Two Little Girls in Blue, is also an April publication: Look for both of them when they appear on Thursday, April 6th at 7:30 P.M., Paperbacks Plus (joint appearance with Mary Higgins Clark), at Mount Saint Vincent’s College, Riverdale, NY.#