All 42 of Mary Higgins Clark's books to date have been bestsellers, she's spent a collective 355 weeks on the New York Times best-seller lists, sold more than 100 million copies in the USA, and many more millions across the other 33 countries where her books are sold, including 24 million in France. Her latest book, publishing in time for Mother's Day, is predicted to sell at least 3.5 million copies.
But Ms Clark and her publisher now face a quandary. At 83 years of age, the doyenne of the wholesome thriller (no unmarried couples living together, no swearing and no graphic scenes), who collected 40 rejection slips before her first story was published in 1956, is facing the question of how to maintain her brand in the "twilight of her career" (as The Wall Street Journal puts it) and after she's gone. The same question must be very much top of mind for her publisher, Simon & Schuster, who've been able to rely on their top-selling author to help keep them in the black for many a year.
What's interesting here is that while Ms Clark and her publisher want to appoint a successor to continue writing books in her name after she is no longer able to (a strategy that has proved profitable for the estates of writers such as Robert Ludlam), her children are against the idea, saying that they would rather pass up the potential profit than see her brand degraded. To quote her son Warren Clark, a lawyer and municipal court judge, "Either she wrote it, or she didn't." While her daughter, mystery writer Carol Higgins Clark, says she would be wary of trying to fill her mother's shoes, or hiring someone else to do it: "Her readers have a certain kind of attachment to her ... you couldn't have someone else writing them."
What do you think?
Are you a fan of her books? If so, do you think somebody else would be able to step into her shoes and continue the franchise? Also, while at first glance, it seems honorable for her children to not want to extend the franchise, looked at from another angle, is there an argument that their decision is selfish? While they and their children are likely to be financially secure for the rest of their lives, what about all the people in the publishing chain who rely on Clark's books for all or part of their salaries?
If you were Ms Clark or one of her children, what would you do?