She had a small career as an actor, but she was best known for writing best-selling books like her mother, Mary Higgins Clark.
In 2004, Carol Higgins Clark was in her room in Manhattan. She wrote more than a dozen books and worked with her mother, Mary Higgins Clark, on some of them.
Carol Higgins Clark died on Monday in Los Angeles. When she was young, she retyped her famous mystery writer’s mother’s writings. Later, she wrote best-selling suspense novels herself. She turned 66.
In a statement, her family said that she died from stomach cancer.
Ms. Higgins Clark wrote more than a dozen books on her own, starting with “Decked” in 1992. She also wrote a few books with her mother, who died in 2020, that had Christmas themes.
She started out wanting to be an actor, and she did get a few roles in movies, some of which were based on books written by her mother. But in the summer of 1975, when she was home from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, she helped her mother, who was just starting out as a mystery writer, get out of a jam. This gave her another idea for a job.
Carol Higgins Clark told NPR in 2008, “Her first suspense novel was coming out, and she had to get her second one to her agent.” “This was before computers, and she didn’t know how she was going to get it retyped in time, so I did it. And that’s what really got me into it because I had told her about the people and the story. And I did that for several of her books, which helped me learn how to write.”
As her mother’s books became more popular, Ms. Higgins Clark kept being a sounding board for her by doing research, helping her make the conversation for younger characters more realistic, and other things. When “Where Are the Children?,” her mother’s first suspense book, was made into a movie in 1986, Carol Higgins Clark had a small part as a TV reporter. Over the next 28 years, she kept acting in movies based on her mother’s books. Many of these were made for TV, like “A Cry in the Night” (1992), in which she had the main part.
Most of Ms. Higgins Clark’s books had one-word names that were easy to remember. Her first book, “Decked,” was about a ship on the water.
In the same year, she wrote her first book. “Decked” introduced Regan Reilly, a private detective who would be the main character in almost all of Carol Higgins Clark’s books.
She made Reilly the daughter of a mystery writer as a tribute to her mother. In the first book, which takes place on an ocean ship, Reilly is haunted by the death of her roommate from ten years before.
In a review for The Los Angeles Times, Charles Champlin said, “It is all fast, glamorous, intricately plotted, and serenely untroubling. It is just right for a plane ride or, in fact, a cruise.”
In that book, which was nominated for the Anthony Award for a best first novel, Ms. Higgins Clark introduced the style that would set her apart from her mother: Mary Higgins Clark’s books were usually about psychological tension, but Carol’s were full of funny parts. In the first pages of “Decked,” in a scene with Gavin, a dance teacher on the ocean ship, she showed that.
She wrote, “Just this morning, he was teaching the polka to an enthusiastic 80-year-old man who wore big black shoes.” “They were like gunboats that were hinged on her fat ankles and aimed at his poor feet. When Gavin thought about it, he cringed. Stomping on someone’s foot was meant to be a way to defend yourself, not a fun thing to do.
In an interview with Newsday in 2000, Mary Higgins Clark said, “A reviewer once said, ‘Mary Higgins Clark goes for the jugular vein, and Carol Higgins Clark goes for the funny bone.'” I believe that to be true.”
Carol Ann Higgins Clark came into the world in New York City on July 28, 1956. When she was eight years old, her father, Warren, who was the national sales manager for Capital Airlines, died of a heart attack.
She was born in New Jersey and went to school there until she graduated from Immaculate Heart Academy. In 1978, she got her bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke. After college, she went to the Beverly Hills Playhouse to study acting. She used this training not only when she was in a few movies, but also when she read her own and her mother’s podcasts.
Most of Carol Higgins Clark’s books had one-word names. For example, “Snagged” (1993) is about a pantyhose convention, and “Twanged” (1998) is about a fiddle that is cursed. She and her mother worked together for the first time on “Deck the Halls” in 2000, which starred Regan Reilly and one of Mary Higgins Clark’s characters, Alvirah Meehan, who was more or less brought back from the dead by Carol.
In 2000, Mary Higgins Clark told Newsday, “Alvirah was dead at the end of my first book.” “Carol told me to wake her up from the sleep. She said, “You have a great character here, and you’re going to kill her?” That’s a terrible piece of writing.'”
Ms. Higgins Clark lived in West Hollywood, California, and her brothers, Marilyn, Warren, and David Clark are the only ones who are still alive. Patricia, another sister, died before her.
People often asked Ms. Higgins Clark if her mother ever gave her any tips. She usually gave the answer she gave to an audience in Palm Beach, Florida, in 2016: “She said, ‘If someone’s mean to you, make them a victim in your next book.'”