Carol Higgins Clark went from typing her famous mom Mary Higgins Clark's manuscripts to following in her bestselling footsteps. Her feisty heroine, P.I. Regan Reilly, keeps readers laughing -- but always looking over their shoulders.
If Mary Higgins Clark is the Queen of Suspense, then her daughter, Carol, could be considered the Princess of the Pratfall for the quirky comedy she liberally sprinkles throughout her bestselling Regan Reilly mysteries. As a reviewer once said, "Mary Higgins Clark goes for the jugular; Carol Higgins Clark goes for the funny bone."
Clark's apprenticeship to her mega-bestselling mom began early on. In 1975, when she was a student at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, mama Mary was still working full time, supporting five children on her own while trying to get her fledgling career as a novelist off the ground. Daughter Carol did her part to help, pitching in between term papers and acting classes to peck away at her mother's pages on a manual typewriter, making savvy edits along the way.
She recalled to the Philadelphia Inquirer her early days as an unsung editrix of her mother's work: "In one of her books, Loves Music, Loves to Dance, she had a serial killer who was making dates through the personal ads and then killing the girls. So the best friend of one of the girls he killed is trying to figure out who might have done it, so she's going out on these dates. So I was reading it and going over it with my mother and she had all these bars in New York. I said, 'No one goes there, no one goes there.' So I changed all the bars and restaurants. And People magazine said in its review: 'Clark offers a well-informed tour of New York's singles haunts.' So that was my contribution to that book. But I was really learning a lot."
After a few acting stints in off-Broadway theater, movies, and television -- her first role was as an extra on the soap opera Ryan's Hope -- Clark decided to try her hand at writing her own novel. She conjured up a semi-autobiographical heroine, sleuth Regan Reilly (who just so happens to have a celebrity author mother), and Decked debuted in 1992, garnering nominations for both an Agatha and an Anthony Award for Best First Novel. Clark relishes researching each new Regan Reilly adventure, gleaning inspiration from real-life capers both daffy and decadent.
After establishing herself in her own right as a farcical force to be reckoned with -- all of her Regan Reilly novels hit the New York Times bestseller list -- Clark teamed up with her mother in 2000 to pen their first holiday-themed thriller, Deck the Halls. We think it's pretty safe to say Carol didn't have to do all the typing!
Good To Know
Some outtakes from our interview with Clark:
"My first job was at a dry cleaner's. You'd be amazed at what you find in people's pockets! All sorts of clues about their lives! I had a character in Iced who worked at a dry cleaner's."
"I started out as an actress, and that background has helped me with my books. I love going to the theatre."