Mary Higgins Clark, a Bronx-born best-selling author of more than 50 suspense novels, died Friday in Naples, Florida, The New York Times reports. She was 92.
Higgins Clark sold over 100 million books in he U.S., making her the undisputed "Queen of Suspense." Indefatigable, she published her most recent novel just over two months ago.
Born on December 24, 1927, the Irish-American scribe had a hardscrabble youth after her father died when she was just 11, and she had to work for everything she achieved. In the '40s, she planned to become what was at the time called a "stewardess," but was also sending stories to magazines, attempting to fulfill a strong desire to become a published writer.
In 2017, she told Off the Shelf of her writing ambitions, "People ask, 'When did you decide to write?' and the answer is I didn't decide to write; I was a writer from the time I could put two words together. I was writing poetry when I was 6, I was writing skits and making my brothers perform in them, I was writing plays for the neighborhood kids... I was writing short stories all through high school." When she returned to her former high school after having 15 chart-topping books published, her math teacher reminded her, perhaps signing off on her career path, "Miss Higgins, you were a dreadful math student."
As a young mother, she sold her first piece in 1956, but her writing career was put on a back burner when her husband, Warren Clark, died suddenly in 1964.
She published her first novel, "Aspire to the Heavens" (republished in 2002 as "Mount Vernon Love Story"), in 1969. It flopped, but beginning with 1975's "Where Are the Children?," which inspired the 1986 Jill Clayburgh film of the same name, she produced hit after hit, doing so without sex or profanity — but plenty of murder, mystery, and machinations, often centered around a woman whose life has been turned upside-down through no fault of her own.
By 1988, Higgins Clark had become the highest-paid author in the world, inking a deal with Simon & Schuster worth over $10 million. It was a wise investment — all 56 of her S&S novels were best sellers.
Among her biggest hits: "A Stranger Is Watching" (1977), which spawned a 1982 film, and "The Cradle Will Fall" (1980). Two dozen of her works were adapted as TV movies.
Though most of her books were written by Higgins Clark alone, she teamed up with her daughter Carol Higgins Clark on five holiday-themed novels, and also collaborated with Alafair Burke on the recent popular "Under Suspicion" series.
She said she never guessed she would be as successful as she was, but, "I did know I would be a successful writer."
Married three times and widowed in October 2018, Higgins Clark is survived by her five children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.