Mary Higgins Clark - To Be Continued?

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?

I agree with her children. Mary contributed to my love of reading when I was a teen...she can't be replaced!
# Posted By Teri | 3/25/11 1:55 PM
A book by a pseudo Mary Higgins Clark is not a book by Mary Higgins Clark! There are plenty of mystery writers around to keep publishers in business!
# Posted By Mary | 3/25/11 8:16 PM
If I were MHC or her children, I would not extend her franchise.
# Posted By jannanhouse | 3/26/11 11:57 AM
I don't read books written by one author with another's name. LEt her name rest in peace.
# Posted By Linda Sheehan | 3/26/11 1:33 PM
Her children are right. Either she wrote it or she didn't. There is no way someone else could write her books!
# Posted By Brenda | 3/26/11 3:36 PM
Her children are correct! Either she wrote the book or she didn't!
# Posted By Brenda Rupp | 3/26/11 3:38 PM
Mary should be able to choose to do with her legacy whatever she wants.
# Posted By Jennifer J | 3/27/11 2:07 AM
I totally agree with Mary's children. A writer is not a "franchise". Let the publishers promote new young authors who will write their OWN books, not ride to fame on the coat-tails of a popular writer.
# Posted By Gerry | 3/27/11 6:29 AM
I would have to agree with her children. There is clearly something special about the way that she writes to make her such a popular author and no one can just step in and keep it going. There will be noticeable changes between the old author and the new one, no one could match the old author's writing perfectly.
-Shay from InAWorldOfBooks.blogspot.com
# Posted By Shay | 3/30/11 5:18 PM
I agree with her children - totally and absolutely.
# Posted By Penny | 4/7/11 8:26 PM
First, I absolutely agree with her children - she didn't write it, she's not the author. HOWEVER...I would truly welcome a publishers' cooperative policy which would allow an assigned author to continue her style with a tag under his/her name indicating "after Mary Higgins Clark." I often wish I could find another Clark or Ludlum, Fisher or Renault, McInnes or Conroy, to fit my mood of the week. Seeing such a tag on a displayed cover in a bookstore would certainly bring this customer nearer the cash register. Such a change would have to be well controlled, but I see it as good marketing, a tribute to the retired or deceased author, and tailored-to-fit clue for the reader.
# Posted By Mary G | 4/9/11 2:09 PM
Mary, do what you want! It's not like you are out to save the free world. It's candy... not fruits and vegetables. You write to entertain and help readers escape for a few minutes. Thanks!
# Posted By Barbara C. | 4/11/11 8:18 AM
I have a problem with this issue. If a writer who you like and follow is no longer able to write then they are not writing. As a reader your are not reading the author you are reading someone else. If you continue to like these ghost written
books that is fine. You are selling a name and so a family chooses to follow the money. In many cases the books are differently written an may be as good, not as good or better. I have always wondered what ghost writers feel about what they do..
# Posted By Maureen Corwin | 4/14/11 5:42 AM
Mary Higgins Clark should be the one to make the decision. Her writing is unique and if somoeone else can duplicate it exactly then go for it. Otherwise the books will be a poor imitation.
# Posted By pearl | 4/14/11 4:17 PM
There is only one Mary Higgins Clark, and at the unfortunate time when she can no longer put pen to page, we will celebrate the legacy of her words. Never a substitute for such a unique author........
# Posted By barbara florentino | 4/14/11 6:24 PM
I am a big fan of MHC but when she no longer writes her own novels, that'll be the end of MHC for me.
I appreciate that her children are not up to continuing her brand, but it's early days yet and how hard is it to turn down the opportunity to make a quick buck? Look what's happened with GWTW and her greedy nephews, authorizing sequels that make no sense of GWTW.
# Posted By Freya | 4/15/11 2:47 AM
I agree with her children. I would not want to read a book written by someone else under her name. When she is gone, then that should be the end.
# Posted By Barbara | 4/15/11 11:21 AM
I agree with her children. I only want to read the books she has written. I refuse to buy books that someone writes using a well-known author's name knowing they will sell under that name.
# Posted By Carol M | 4/15/11 1:15 PM
I don't have a problem reading books that are written "in the style of". Perhaps a secondary character in some of her books could be the main protagonist by a different author.
# Posted By Jan Terry | 4/16/11 8:11 PM
I agree with Mary's children also. Having said that, I wish Mary a very long and healthy life and I hope she writes many more books for her fans to enjoy.
# Posted By Anne McNamara | 4/20/11 7:11 PM
I agree with her chirldren. I was a teen when I started reading her, introduced my daughter to her, we both think she can't be replaced!!!
# Posted By Daphne | 4/28/11 5:20 AM
I agree with Mary's children, but I hope Mary will be around, and still writing, for many many years. I have just finished reading "I'll Walk Alone" and couldn't put it down.
# Posted By Anne Maree | 5/10/11 5:15 AM
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