“So now Lady Haywood is found dead and our main character has the necklace and we’ll take it from there.”
Mary Higgins Clark in a recent interview
It was a misty Sunday, but our inner suns were shining! Thanks to Trish, one of my writing buddies, I and two more of my writing buddies, Nancy and David, were the third annual Morristown Festival of Books. Great company, coffee, an almond croissant, writers, and a tent full of books — what better way to spend a Sunday? I came away with a raft of inspiration to share.
While there were writers galore, one of the highlights for me was hearing Mary Higgins Clark chat about her writing career (see also What If?). At 89, Mary is still a petite pen-poised dynamo. She’s written more than 50 books, including a memoir called Kitchen Privileges — and she’s still going strong. Her new book, As Time Goes By just hit the shelves and I’m sure it’s flying off them. She’s sold 100 million books in the U.S. alone and counting. Some writing advice from a pro:
• “I walked down to NYU and signed up for a short story course and the professor told us, “There’s a secret in your family that people are whispering about. Turn it into fiction…. Take the most interesting situation and ask two questions, ‘Suppose…’ and ‘What if…’ And I’ve been doing it ever since.”
• “I often will find a story in a newspaper. Take a news story and take the DNA out of it and turn it into fiction. Take a true case and spin it around.”
• “Sit down and do it: that’s the hardest part. You have to start on page one. Everyone has a myriad of excuses. The trick is to sit down and start it and maybe look at books you’d like to write and analyze them. I took a Daphne de Maurier book [Rebecca], and I wondered how she did that first paragraph and that last one and everything in between. Those are the tricks you can teach yourself.”
• “It’s a marvelous thing to be able to do what you love to do….I never get bored because I can sit for hours and write the stories in my head.”
For more advice, check out Mary’s website: http://maryhigginsclark.com/ Reading her bio there, I learned that her first short story, “Stowaway” was out 42 times before she finally sold it for $100. Now, that’s persistence!
Thanks Tricia, Nancy, and David for a great day. Write on!