Wednesday, November 4, 2009

You Have the Right to Six Words - Week 24

Last week we had three ladies with one gentleman memoirists. This week we flipped the roles and we have three gentleman joining one classy lady to have four outstanding six-word memoirs. So let's not waste time with small talk.

Josh Bazell wanted to be a writer from the age of nine. He even studied writing as an undergraduate in college, but graduate studies would find him working toward an M.D. His love of science and his love of writing continued to battle for the upper hand and neither won out. Instead, Josh is now a medical resident in San Francisco and a published author with his debut novel BEAT THE REAPER. Appropriately so, Josh is highly influenced by Arthur Conan Doyle who also published after medical school. He's presently hard at work practicing medicine and writing his second novel. All in all, Josh says,

Writing was the least of it.
Brad Parks has been employed as a writer since he was 14 and covering the high school girls basketball beat for his local paper. After high school, he founded a weekly sports newspaper at Dartmouth College and then went on to become an award-winning journalist, writing for The Washington Post and the Newark, NJ, Star Ledger. His work included covering a quadruple homicide that would be the catalyst for his debut novel, FACES OF THE GONE, which will release in December. I met Brad at Bouchercon this year and to put it bluntly, he impressed the hell out of me. I'm looking forward to his work. But you don't want to know about me, you want to know about his memoir:

Stiff white guy writes gritty crime.
And I've heard he prefers pleated pants as well! Keep your eyes peeled for FACES OF THE GONE. I think Brad Parks is a name you're going to hear a lot of in the near future!

Neil Plakcy is our third memoirist and another author I had the pleasure of meeting at Bouchercon. While he was born in Pennsylvania, warmer climates beckoned him. Neil now calls Hollywood, Florida, home. The tropics of Florida sparked an interest for Neil in Hawaii, and thus his Mahu series was born. In August this year, the fourth book in that series, MAHU VICE, was published. In addition to novel author, Neil can claim the titles of anthology editor and Assistant Professor of English at Broward College. And when he isn't wearing one of those hats, he's wearing the hat of Vice President of the Florida chapter of Mystery Writers of America. And of course I have to mention that Neil and his partner are the proud owners of a golden retriever. So what's the secret to all this success? Neil puts his math skills to work and says

Hard work plus luck equals
And it is my distinct honor to welcome our final memoirist today who is an international best-selling suspense writer, the #1 fiction best-selling author in France, and a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master. Mary Higgins Clark battled the odds to achieve her success, which includes well over 40 novels, non-fiction works, and short story collections. Left a widower at a young age, she raised five children and wrote radio scripts to pay the bills, all the while working on her fiction writing. Her first novel was a biographical novel about George Washington that was published in 1969 and would be reissued in 2002, but it would be her first suspense novel that turned Mary Higgins Clark's life upside down. WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN is now in its amazing 75th edition in paperback.

With the success of WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN, Mary was able to do some of the things she was previously unable to do, such as return to school and earn a degree in philosophy. There is no doubt that Mary has influenced the crime fiction genre we know today. The Mystery Writers of America even presents a suspense fiction writing award during the Edgars each year in Mary's name. But she's left a mark far beyond the reaches of her writing. She's also received numerous awards for her service to church, community, and family, including the Catholic Big Sisters Distinguished Service Award, the Outstanding Mother of the Year Award, the Bronx Legend Award, and the Christopher Life Achievement Award.

In April of this year, the Queen of Suspense released JUST TAKE MY HEART. And this week she is releasing a book with her daughter Carol Higgins Clark that packages together two of their previously released holiday thrillers: DECK THE HALLS and THE CHRISTMAS THIEF.

Four of Mary's novels, including WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN, were adapted for movies and a slew of others have been adapted for television.

From selling her first short story in 1956 for $100 to publishing over 40 works and achieving world-wide fame today, Mary Higgins Clark has become a household name in crime fiction and an influence to many who have followed in her footsteps. There's no telling what crime fiction would look like today if not for the fact that

Writing about crime makes me happy.
And aren't we glad it does!

Oh my goodness, I think I have chills from writing this post. What an amazing group of writers here. My deepest thanks to Josh, Brad, Neil and Mary for sharing their memoirs. I'm honored to have you all here today and I'm honored at the generosity you have extended toward me and my project.

And everyone reading, I'm honored that you come back and check this out and enjoy it with me. I'm honored to share this community with you all. Thank you so much. I hope you'll continue to stop by and share it with me. I'll see you next week with more memoirs!

Happy Reading!


thetruebookaddict November 4, 2009 at 6:18 AM  

I enjoyed reading this! I love to read about authors and their origins, etc. As an aspiring author (I'm doing NaNoWriMo this month), it's encouraging to read stuff like this. Thanks!

Naomi Johnson November 4, 2009 at 7:51 AM  

Wow! The grande dame herself. Congratulations!

Kaye Barley November 4, 2009 at 8:19 AM  

Jen - Yay!!!!!!!!!!
ANOTHER great day with yet another surprise!
You little devilette, you.
Keep 'em coming, Jen - these are just wonderful. and fun!

le0pard13 November 4, 2009 at 9:28 AM  

Way to go, Jen! Another great set of memoirs. Thanks for this.

Pop Culture Nerd November 4, 2009 at 12:47 PM  

Mary Higgins Clark is the first author I ever got to meet at a signing. It was 20-some years ago in D.C. I remember standing in line outside a Crown bookstore, clutching my hardcover of While My Pretty One Sleeps. I was so excited, I was shivering (or that could've been because it was really cold outside).

I was a nervous, babbling fool when I was finally face to face with her, but she was so gracious to me, the experience jump-started my interest in going to other signings. I've met many authors since but it all started with her. Pretty awesome you got her.

Oh, and I absolutely loved Bazell's Beat the Reaper! That was a great read; can't wait for his next one.

le0pard13 November 4, 2009 at 12:57 PM  

Crown Books... Now there's a memory! I don't know how many happy moments I spent at the numerous stores in that chain scanning the aisles of books. I, too, enjoyed the heck out of Beat the Reaper. Thanks Jen and PCN.

Jen Forbus November 4, 2009 at 1:13 PM  

You guys are so wonderful! Thanks for sticking with me through this whole project.

I especially like this week because we have Brad who is just starting out as a novelist and Mary who is as Naomi put it "the grande dame." And I didn't know this until after I had everything set up for this week, but Brad cites Mary as one of his inspirations. How cool is that? Serendipity!

PCN I love stories about first book signings. I actually didn't go to my first until a couple years ago...Michael Koryta...changed my life. I'm a junkie now, and we simply don't have enough in NE Ohio to feed my habit! :)

Pop Culture Nerd November 4, 2009 at 1:36 PM  

Cool serendipitous detail about Brad and Mary! I'm looking forward to FOTG.

To get more authors to come to your area, write (and have everyone you know do it, too) your local bookstores and request that they host whomever you want to see there. When planning author tours, publishers pick cities with the most demand/interest and they get that info from their local reps. You are industrious; I'd bet you can make it happen!

lp13, I loved Crown. Their prices were right for my budget. Among other titles, it's where I bought all my Lehane Patrick/Angie books, the first couple Harry Potters and a couple Craises. So sad when they went out of business.

Serena November 4, 2009 at 8:07 PM  

I love these memoirs. This one seems creepy somehow: "Writing about crime makes me happy." Like we shouldn't be happy writing about crime.

Sophie Littlefield November 4, 2009 at 10:46 PM  

some terrific ones today jen...and of course i've been on pins & needles to see what my boy BP would say. Not disappointed! :)

Brad Parks November 5, 2009 at 8:49 AM  

Thanks, Jen! I got a real kick out of being mentioned in anywhere near the same breath/blog post as Mary. And it gives me an excuse to tell my favorite (and only) Mary Higgins Clark story. The first (and only) time we met, our exchange went something like this:

MARY: Oh, you're a writer?
ME: (Something gushing and embarrassing I probably shouldn't repeat)
MARY: Well, you know what to do if you ever get writer's block, right?
ME: No, Mary, what's that?
MARY: Think of the royalty check.

Chances are, I'd be better served thinking of HER royalty check than mine. But she was kind and gracious enough to spend a few minutes with a nobody like me, and it gave me a memory to treasure forever.

Jen Forbus November 5, 2009 at 9:33 AM  

Aww, that's a great story, Brad. You can come share your stories with me any time! Thanks.

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