Rest in Peace, Queen of Suspense

Mary Higgins Clark
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Mary Higgins Clark

Mary Higgins Clark
-from her author homepage

One of my favorite authors died on Friday, January 31, 2020. “Queen of Suspense” author, Mary Higgins Clark, lived to the remarkable age of 92. 

I discovered Clark’s books as a young teenager. My mom, aunt, and I would often frequent the Goodwill store in Benton, Arkansas. We all enjoyed the search for a good bargain and liked supporting a program that offers job training and other skills for people trying to make a living for themselves and their families. Plus, the savings on products helped our own family and is a great way to teach kids about recycling.

I am still a frequent Goodwill and thrift store shopper today. My favorite things to buy at these places are books. I buy plenty of new books, but finding a used treasure is always a blessing. I donate books frequently as well if it isn’t something I want to add to my permanent collection of books, which is around 675 volumes (an no, that is not a typo). I love to read more than any other hobby.

Around the same time, I discovered another late female author, V.C. Andrews*, thanks to the 50-cent paperbacks at the Goodwill, I also stumbled across an older book with an intriguing cover. It was Where are the Children? by Mary Higgins Clark. I hadn’t heard of this author before, but after picking up the book and reading the blurb, I knew it was a story I wanted to read. Further inspection of the shelves, which were in no particular order, revealed two other books by the author, The Cradle Will Fall and A Cry in the Night. So, for $1.50 (Thanks, Mom!), my journey of loving Mary Higgins Clark novels began.

Now, I have almost all of her novels in my collection. I love her storytelling ability. That’s not to say that I loved every single one of her stories. Some were just okay, but for the most part, I rated them as 4-star or above. The three pictured above were all 5-stars from me. Her early work at its best.

What intrigued me most about Clark was that she didn’t have commercial success until she was in her 40s. That gives hope to authors like me — authors who haven’t reached a considerable level of success, according to some people. While I may never reach Clark’s level of success, she was one of my favorite authors, and I am sad that there will be no new material from her intricate mind. The legacy she left behind will remain intact, though.

Another thing I admired about Clark was her class. She always spoke highly of her readers and her family. She carried herself with a level of class that is too often ignored in today’s world. My heartfelt prayers go out to her family and friends. While she lived a long life, I know her loss will leave a hole in their lives. Rest in peace, Mary. Thanks for all the stories.

-Brandi Easterling Collins

*Original novels actually written by Andrews, not the stories still being released under her name, which just aren’t the same.

Television Nostalgia and Other Things

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Recently, a major television star from when I was a child had a stroke. Last Monday he died from the complications. Luke Perry, who played Dylan on Beverly Hills, 90210, was only 52 years old.

Back when I watched him on TV, I would have thought 52 was ancient. Now that I’m older, it seems so young. The show originally aired in 1990 when I was nine years old. I started watching it when it aired new episodes during the summer of 1991 at age 10 and caught up on the first season through reruns that aired on a different night if I’m remembering correctly.

My son is 10 now, and I’ll admit that I was probably too young for the subject matter on the show at the time, but I watched it anyway, crushing on Brandon (sometimes) and Dylan (all the time). I wanted to be Brenda because she was the character I latched on to. I do that with all shows—find a favorite character whose voice would tell me the story if it were a novel.

I grew up with the show and watched its spin-off Melrose Place until that show proved to be too crazy for me somewhere around the third or fourth season. I watched 90210 religiously until about a year after my favorite character Brenda “moved away” mainly out of loyalty. But it just wasn’t the same show without Brenda, no matter what the tabloids said about difficulty with the actress who portrayed her, Shannen Doherty. For the last five seasons, I only caught an episode every now and then, sometimes reading (paper) TV guide summaries to keep up with the storyline.

By the time the last episode aired, I had just finished my freshman year in college. I recorded it on my VCR (it was the year 2000) and watched it a couple of weeks after it had aired for closure. Maybe I’ll watch the episodes I missed they’re all on Hulu now minus a few earlier episodes that are unavailable because of issues with music featured during the episodes. I’ve rewatched a few episodes in the last few days to see Luke Perry in action. There are things I never noticed the first time I watched the show, like how the characters repeat their junior year in high school and how “after-school special” some of the episodes were with trigger characters who appeared in their issue episode and were never seen or spoken of again.

Watching 90210 led me to love other teen shows later on when I actually was a teen, shows like My So-Called Life and Dawson’s Creek. All those shows helped me sort out some complicated feelings and fed my desire to be a writer someday.

My heartfelt prayers go out to the friends and family of Luke Perry. Luke, thank you for the memories. Rest in peace.

-Brandi Easterling Collins

Talking about death

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Most people don’t like to talk about death because it’s scary. Any time I bring it up to my husband, he’s quick to change the subject. I think he’s convinced he’ll go first. He’s said before that he never wants to lose me. I don’t want to lose him either, but I don’t think either one of us believes we’re truly immortal. (Please note that I’m not talking religion right now.)

Stockvault by Merelize

I’ve known about death for as long as I can remember, since I saw my first death at four years old, that of my father. A few months prior, my grandfather (Dad’s father) had died. Though I didn’t see him or attend his funeral, I remember looking for him and noticing he was gone. One of my aunts told me he had died, and even then, I think I realized it was a serious word. Continue reading