Meet the Author – Jeffrey Deaver February 8, 2011
Best-Selling Author: Stephen J. Cannell November 30, 2010
Tavis Smiley Show: Mark Higgins Clark November 21, 2010
Mary Higgins Clark is America’s top-selling suspense author. For decades, readers have enjoyed her tense and tightly-woven tales of intrigue and mystery. All of her novels are still in print. Her first novel, Where are the Children?, is currently in its 75th printing. Her new novel, Just Take My Heart, will be released in April of 2009.
Mary Higgins Clark-Background Information
Mary Theresa Eleanor Higgins was born December 25, 1927 in New York. Her family was of Irish descent. The family owned and operated a successful pub until the death of Mary’s father left Nora Clark a widow with three young children to support.
Though Ms. Clark felt inspired to write at an early age, she held down many jobs. She worked as a secretary, copy editor and stewardess. In 1949, she gave up her career with the airline to marry Warren Clark. They had four children, Marilyn, Warren Jr., David, and Carol. In 1964, tragedy struck. Her husband, who had been in poor health for a number of years, suffered a fatal heart attack. Mary’s mother-in law, who was visiting at the time, collapsed from the stress and died that same night.
Warren Clark’s death caused financial difficulties for the young widow. Mary turned to writing for a living. She worked as a radio scriptwriter and had also established herself as a successful short story writer. Her first novel, Where are the Children? became a bestseller and her career as America’s Queen of Suspense was launched.
Ms. Clark remarried twice. She now lives in Saddle River, New Jersey with her husband John J. Conheeney.
After the publication of her first mystery novel, Where Are The Children? in 1975, Ms. Clark continued to pen best-sellers such as On the Street Where you Live and Before I Say Goodbye. Many of her plots deal with kidnapping and crimes involving children. Some storylines, such as Two Little Girls in Blue, also involve psychic phenomena, in this instance the telepathic communication between twins.
Her lead character is usually a strong and independent woman who uses her own wits to solve the mystery.
Two of her novels, Where are the Children? and A Stanger is Watching were made into film. Many of her short stories and other works were made for television. Ms. Clark has won numerous awards for her writing. She is very active in Mystery Writers of America and served as president in 1987 and has also served on the Board of Directors.
Ms. Clark’s Other Work
Ms. Clark is the author of an autobiography, Kitchen Privileges, which was published in 2002. She has published one nonfiction novel, Aspire to the Heavens, about George Washington, which was inspired by her days as a radio script writer, She has also written several collections of short stories, some in collaboration with her daughter Carol, and a children’s book, Ghost Ship.
Clark’s daughter, Carol, followed in her mother’s footsteps and became an author. Mother and daughter have co-authored three lighter suspense novels with holiday themes, Deck the Halls, He Sees You When You’re Sleeping, and The Christmas Thief. A new title, Dashing through the Snow, was released in November of 08.
Suspenses by Mary Higgins Clark
- Where Are The Children? (1975)
- A Stranger is Watching (1977
- The Cradle Will Fall (1980)
- A Cry in the Night (198
- Stillwatch (1984)
- Weep No More, My Lady (1987)
- While My Pretty One Sleeps (1989)
- Loves Music, Loves to Dance (1991)
- All Around the Town (1992)
- I’ll Be Seeing You (1993)
- Remember Me (1994)
- Let Me Call You Sweetheart (1995)
- Silent Night (1995)
- Moonlight Becomes You (1996)
- Pretend You Don’t See Her (1997)
- You Belong to Me (1998)
- All Through The Night (1998)
- We’ll Meet Again (1999)
- Before I Say Good-Bye (2000)
- On The Street Where You Live (2001)
- Daddy’s Little Girl (2002)
- The Second Time Around (2003)
- Nighttime Is My Time (2004)
- No Place Like Home (2005)
- Two Little Girls in Blue (2006)
- I Heard That Song Before (2007)
- Where Are You Now? (2008)
- Just Take My Heart (2009)
Source material: http://www.suite101.com/content/mary-higgins-clarkbiography-a80137
Best-Selling Author: Karen Kingsbury July 20, 2010
Tags: CBN, Christian Fiction, Queen of Christian Fiction
Author’s website: http://karenkingsbury.com/
Ten Tips for Aspiring Authors 1. Keep Writing If God has given you a book to write, or if you feel He has placed a story on your heart that needs to be told…write, write, write. Get it finished, and make sure it is written to the best of your ability. 2. Join a Writer’s Group There are many Christian writers groups for aspiring authors. In order to make your manuscript the best book it can be, you should join one of these groups and learn from others. A few you might try would be: Christian Writers Guild http://www.faithwriters.com/ 3. Join a Critique Group Once you’re connected with a writers group, you should be able to form a critique group. This may be an online club, wherein you and a few other aspiring authors take turns reading each others’ work. Feedback is then given, allowing you to take your manuscript to another level. 4. Read Other Books Similar to Yours If you want to write a mystery, read mysteries. If you want to write a Christian romance, read Christian romances. If you want to write a Christian general fiction, such as Karen Kingsbury’s works – read Karen Kingsbury’s books. You get the idea. You must be well versed in the type of genre you wish to write. Editors and agents will expect this. 5. Get a Copy of Writer’s Market This is an informational book that releases new every year and has a list of editors and agents who are acquiring new material. 6. Write a Brief Synopsis for Your Book Once you’ve finished your book, and you’re happy with it, write a very brief one-sentence or two-sentence synopsis. This will go a long way in helping you convey the story to an editor or agent. Example: Gideon’s Gift is about a sick little girl, an angry homeless man, and the gift that changes both of their lives forever. You need something like this for your book. 7. Write Back Cover Copy Next make your synopsis long enough to work as back cover copy. This will give you a way to place on one single sheet of paper, the summation of your story. Read the copy on back covers to get an idea of how long and how detailed this information should be. It should fit on one page, double-spaced. If you are writing a non-fiction book, you will also include a chapter outline at this point. 8. Write a 2-3 Page Synopsis This will be the synopsis an agent or editor will read if he or she is interested in your previous synopses. You must include all information in this synopsis. Whereas the others might have intrigue and missing information, this one must give it all away. It will give adequate information about characters, plot points, conflict, and resolution, to be a concise version of the novel. 9. Submit It’s time! Submit all forms of your synopses to an agent. Karen Kingsbury is represented by Alive Communications in Colorado Springs. You may look online for other agencies, or check out the listings in the Writer’s Market or Agent’s Market book. Every agent may want something slightly different, but it’s always wise to include these items in your proposal: ■Cover letter introducing yourself and your idea. ■Brief bio on yourself. ■All forms of your synopses. ■First three chapters of your book. 10. Pray! Nothing written or done for God will happen without your diligent prayer. Pray and seek God’s will. Sometimes He is telling you to write; other times He is telling you to take a season of education toward your writing. Other times He wants you to volunteer at your child’s school and put writing on hold. Try to be discerning.
Author’s website: http://www.lisamcmann.com/html/author.htm
Interview: Emily Griffin July 18, 2010
What is your writing process? Do you outline your stories ahead of time? I never outline my novels before I write. I have a vague sense of beginning, middle and end, but for me, it is a very character-driven process. As I get to know my characters, and the relationships between them form, the plot evolves accordingly. For example, the plot twist at the end of Something Borrowed came to me late in the game. *SPOILER ALERT* I had this moment where I thought, “Why, of course! Darcy was with Marcus all along! Just another example of her taking from Rachel.” Another instance of such plot shift involved Dex. Originally, I saw him as a smooth-talking cad. But as I spent time with him, he changed in my mind, and I decided that his feelings for Rachel were sincere from the start. This worked a lot better in the story, of course, because Rachel’s dilemma would have become trivial if her relationship with Dex was merely about sex, intrigue or getting even with a friend. Although this method of writing can be inefficient, and I sometimes have to scrap whole chapters if I don’t like the direction the story is unfolding, I love being surprised in the writing process.
Where do you write? Do you have any special writing rituals? I usually write in my attic office—two floors above the chaos created by my three children. When I get stir crazy, I transfer to a coffee shop or bookstore. I don’t have many rituals—but I always start out my writing day with a cup of coffee and find that my work is the strongest in the morning or in the middle of the night.
What inspires your stories? My books are all relationship-focused, so much of my inspiration comes from my own relationships and the issues and concerns that arise among my friends and family. It’s amazing how universal certain themes are, such as whether there are deal breakers when it comes to true love (Baby Proof); the idealization of a past relationship and a fixation on the “the one who got away” (Love the One You’re With); or complicated, if not downright toxic, female friendships (Something Borrowed). It is always so satisfying to write a book and discover how much it resonates with readers of all ages, worldwide.
You often write about flawed characters. Is this something you do intentionally? I find flawed characters much more interesting than perfect ones and enjoy the challenge of making readers root for them in spite of their unsympathetic path and destructive choices. Life is about the gray areas. Things are seldom black and white, even when we wish they were and think they should be, and I like exploring this nuanced terrain. I believe most people are good at heart and sincerely try to do the right thing. Yet we are all capable of missteps and of hurting the people we love, and we all have had to grapple with the guilt and regret that come from these mistakes and weaknesses.
Do you ever get writer’s block? How do you deal with it? What is the hardest part of being a writer? Yes—pretty much every day is filled with at least a few moments of frustration in which I’m staring at a blank screen (or a screen filled with sentences I loathe). To me, writing is about overcoming those moments, fighting through them, getting to the other side. More than anything, I write for that feeling of accomplishment and relief. I remember my publicist once saying to me, about another writer, “She only had one book in her.” That is always my fear—that I’ve reached my limit. But I’ve discovered that nearly every author—no matter how accomplished—has this feeling on occasion. And ultimately, I believe that writing is mostly about hard work, perseverance, keeping faith in yourself—which, I believe, is true of most things in life worth pursuing.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers, or for those who’ve never tackled something as big as a novel before? What about writers who are trying to get published? First, stop referring to yourself as an “aspiring writer.” You might aspire to get paid for what you do, but you are a writer if you write… As a corollary, stop worrying that you won’t be good enough, or comparing yourself to others. Don’t let the idea of a novel overwhelm or intimidate you so much that you are too afraid to begin. It’s like training for a marathon. Nobody gets out there and runs twenty-six miles on their first effort. It takes daily training and discipline and desire. There’s no real magic to writing a novel or one method that works for all—it’s just a question of attacking the project sentence by paragraph by page by chapter. Also, try to follow Stephen King’s advice (from his memoir On Writing) to keep the door “closed” when writing early drafts. In other words, don’t concern yourself with what others might think of your work, or whether it is commercially viable. Write what you feel and be fiercely honest. If you don’t feel a deep connection to your characters and writing, then chances are nobody else will. Other books I recommend are: Turning Life Into Fiction by Robin Hemley, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.
When you get to the “finding an agent” stage, check out Jeff Herman’s Guide to Agents. I found it to be very useful in that it gives a bit more background on agents. Always keep in mind that publishing is a very subjective and personality-driven. Therefore, you really want to click with your agent and be sure that your work resonates with her. If you have multiple offers, do your due diligence and ask to speak to their respective clients. And until those offers come in, resolve to have a thick skin. Rejection is simply part of the process. It happens to most every successful writer. Many times. When I was writing Something Borrowed in London, I lived around the corner from J.K. Rowling’s flat, and derived strength from walking by her place on my way to get coffee and thinking of all the rejection she endured. So no matter what else, persevere, believe in yourself and keep doing what you love.
Interview: Lee Child July 9, 2010
Author’s Website: http://www.leechild.com/
What did you like to read when you were growing up?
I started with kids’ adventure and mystery stories, war stories, explorer stories … all very escapist, I suppose, looking back. Then moved on to Alistair Maclean, John D. Macdonald, Raymond Chandler. I detoured into the great 19th century Russian classics for a while. Then modern classics, and came back to genre fiction — my natural home, I guess.
How did you get your start in British television?
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I had a brief theater background and loved the backstage world … there’s more backstage work in television, so I saw a job advertised and applied, and got it. That was back in 1977, when getting jobs was easy.
What did enjoy most about working in television?
I worked for the BBC’s rival, ITV, the commercial network. What was great about it was that due to regulatory wrinkles, there was a lot of money that had to be spent on programming.
When you were at Granada television it produced some fantastic programming, such as Brideshead Revisited and Cracker. Do you believe that the quality of television has overall declined in the last 10 years?
Absolutely … really the last eight years or so. The British regulatory system was revised, so that bigger profits were encouraged, which removed the option of big spending on programming. Quality just fell off a cliff, and all the old hands either left or were fired for being too expensive. In America, the fragmentation of the market spurred a chase toward the lowest common denominator (and the cheapest programming.) We’ll never see the likes of Roots or Brideshead again, which is a shame.
The amount of sex and violence that children see on television is a hot topic in American politics right now. Should the government have a role in censoring what is seen on television or in films? Does it make a difference if the films or shows are marketed to children?
I’m opposed to censorship of any kind, especially by government.
|“I’m opposed to censorship of any kind, especially by government. But it’s plain common sense that producers should target their product with some kind of sensitivity. I think there should be an unspoken rule that anything shown before, say, nine o’clock will be fairly inoffensive. After that, anything goes.”|
But it’s plain common sense that producers should target their product with some kind of sensitivity. I think there should be an unspoken rule that anything shown before, say, nine o’clock will be fairly inoffensive. After that, anything goes. If people felt they could rely on such a system, I don’t think there would be problems.
What led up to the publication of your first book?
I was fired from my television job, simple as that. Well, downsized, really, a classic 1990s situation. I felt alienated by the experience and decided to stay away from corporate employment. So, how to stay inside the world of entertainment without actually getting another job? I felt the only logical answer was to become a novelist. So I wrote the first book — driven by some very real feelings of desperation — and it worked.
Jack Reacher is an interesting, and enigmatic character. How did you create Jack? Were there any characteristics that you were specifically trying to avoid with him?
Specifically, I was determined to avoid the hero-as-self-aware-damaged-person paradigm. I’m afraid as a reader I got sick of all the depressed and miserable alcoholics that increasingly peopled the genre. I wanted a happy-go-lucky guy. He has quirks and problems, but the thing is, he doesn’t know he’s got them. Hence, no tedious self-pity. He’s smart and strong, an introvert, but any anguish he suffers is caused by others.
Jack is a wanderer, a hero who is a bit alienated from the establishment, but whose sense of justice is strong. He reminds me a bit of a character from the Old West: the strong, mysterious loner who never stays in town for long. Are you fond of Westerns at all, or did you read any when you were a boy?
Great point. The stories are all very contemporary, but Reacher is an old-West character for sure. He could be a Zane Grey character. But the funny thing is, I didn’t really realize that until well after the first book was written, and I wasn’t a big Western fan as a kid. Obviously I watched the movies and the TV shows, but I guess I wasn’t aware how deeply the influence was affecting me.
The novels are very American in voice, they are not British in style or tone at all. How did you develop your sense of American dialogue and speech patterns?
Well, writers become writers because they love words and language, and attempting a non-native style is all part of the fun. Plus, I had been coming to America very frequently for many, many years, so I had plenty of exposure — and maybe the best kind of exposure, because I think first impressions are very important. Maybe I notice stuff that is just subliminal to people who live here all the time.
I’d like to talk about your latest book, Echo Burning. What was your inspiration for this story?
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Two things, really – one was a “what if?” idea (writers spend a lot of time thinking … what if?) about meeting a woman whose husband was due out of prison, and she really didn’t want him to come out. The other was a gravestone I saw, a monument to Clay Allison, the Gentleman Gunfighter, that has an inscription: he never killed a man that did not need killing. I asked myself: what would Reacher do, confronted with a man that somebody told him needed killing?
The book has incredibly vivid descriptions of life in South Texas. Did you spend a lot of time there to soak up the atmosphere (and the broiling heat)?
Not a lot of time. I just hang out and move on, like Reacher does. I depend on first impressions, because as a drifter, that’s all that Reacher ever gets.
In Echo Burning, Jack meets Carmen, a woman who claims she has an abusive husband — but other people say she’s a pathological liar. She’s an interesting character; what was the greatest challenge in writing Carmen?
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Simply to balance the two aspects … I wanted readers to be genuinely unsure as to whether she’s telling the truth or lying. It meant making her partly sympathetic, and partly unsympathetic, which wasn’t easy.
Another interesting character is Alice, the attorney who helps Jack out with Carmen’s case. She is a bit of a scene stealer, I thought. What was your inspiration for Alice?
She’s a reflection of my fascination with the diversity of America … she’s totally normal in New York, but a freak in Texas. There are dozens of such clashes in America.
What’s next for Jack Reacher?
Next year’s book is Without Fail … a woman Secret Service agent who many years ago dated Reacher’s (now dead) brother brings Reacher to Washington DC because she needs an outsider to assess a threat against the VP. It’s a tough case … and the first time Reacher needs to recruit somebody to help him out. He uses a woman he knew in the army … she’s a fascinating character.
I’d like to talk about the day to day process of writing. Do you have a set schedule for writing? What are your surroundings when you write?
I write in the afternoon, from about 12 until 6 or 7. I use an upstairs room as my office. Once I get going I keep at it, and it usually takes about six months from the first blank screen until “The End.”
When you begin a new novel, do you have the ending worked out in advance? Or is it a more organic process, where the story unfolds as you write?
|“I was determined to avoid the ‘hero as self-aware damaged person’ paradigm. I’m afraid as a reader I got sick of all the depressed and miserable alcoholics that increasingly peopled the genre.”|
I have the “thing” worked out — the trick or the surprise or the pivotal fact. Then I just start somewhere and let the story work itself out.
How has your background in television affected your style as a novelist?
I think my books come out very visual, which is an obvious consequence. I think my previous experience has helped me with dialog. But it’s the “nuts-and-bolts” of the business that benefits the most — I’m not scared of deadlines, and I’m not the sort of guy who revises endlessly because I’m reluctant to turn a product in. Not quite “don’t get it right, get it written”, but close.
So, you’ve just finished a rather long book tour. Do you enjoy touring, or do you dread it? What was the oddest thing that happened to you while on tour?
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I love touring. The rest of the year is very solitary, so it’s great to get out with real live humans. I love to talk about books — mine or anybody else’s. Can’t think of anything odd that happened this time around. I met a few people I’d emailed with extensively — strange to put faces to names.
What do you enjoy most about living in the U.S.? What things do you miss about England when you aren’t there?
The US? Everything, I guess. The people, the weather, the food, the cars, baseball. I’m a classic happy immigrant. What do I miss about the UK? Sadly, almost nothing. Maybe the midnight sun, in June in the north. That’s all.
How much do you use the Internet? Has it had any impact on your career as a novelist?
I do a little fact checking now and then. Other than that its impact is simply that email has revolutionized
communication for me, and my website has built up a community of readers, which is a lot of fun.
When you’re not working, what are your favorite ways to relax?
Listening to music, watching the Yankees, reading, staring into space.