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Best-selling novelist Mary Higgins Clark joins younger but equally praised author Alafair Burke for their first collaboration.

Interview: Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke About ‘The Cinderella Murder,’ First Novel in a Series

Long-time best-selling novelist Mary Higgins Clark joins younger but equally praised author Alafair Burke for the novel, The Cinderella Murder. This is the start of a series about a television show called Under Suspicion, a popular show that succeeds in reopening and solving cold case murders. I previously has the pleasure of interview Clark here at Blogcritics and James Lee Burke, Alafair’s father, here. This was my first time interviewing Alafair.

The series gets off to a start with the novel which focuses on the second episode of the show as it examines a case where a young lady was killed while missing one shoe, thus the book’s title. The reader gets to know those working the show as well as those in the life of the young lady found murdered. The book has some good plot twists.

And now my interview with these two fine authors.

Why did you decide to collaborate together on a book? Had you worked at all together before?

MHC: Our mutual publisher, Simon and Schuster, was so pleased with my last book, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, that they thought it might be a good idea to take the main characters in it and continue with an ‘Under Suspicion’ series. No, this is the first time we worked together.

AB: I have never co-authored with anyone other than in my other life as a law professor.  I am absolutely honored to be working with Mary.

Mary, what do you like most about Alafair’s books? Alafair, what do you most like about Mary’s books?

MHC: The publisher gave me books of a number of different writers and I read them carefully.  It soon became obvious that Alafair was the one whose style is so like mine.  I knew immediately that working together would be both enjoyable and smooth sailing.

Mary, what do you like most about Alafair’s books? Alafair, what do you most like about Mary’s books?

MHC: The publisher gave me books of a number of different writers and I read them carefully.  It soon became obvious that Alafair was the one whose style is so like mine.  I knew immediately that working together would be both enjoyable and smooth sailing.

AB: Mary knows just how to tell a story.  She creates suspense immediately and so naturally.  Before you know it, you can’t put the book down.

How did you decide to write this particular story? Can one of you summarize the plot?

MHC: The ‘Under Suspicion’ series concerns a producer, Laurie Moran, who has decided to bring together the suspects in an unsolved murder and on television let them give their accounts of why they are innocent of the crime.  The thought is that when someone is under suspicion for a crime he or she did not commit, it alters everything else in their lives.

Was the plan all along for this to become a series? Where do you see the series going? Will it continue using the “Under Suspicion” show as a vehicle to look at under investigations?

MHC: The plan was all along to become a series.  As I explained, the concept of doing that came after ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’.  Hopefully, the series will continue.  We are already signed up for two more, and I look forward to writing them.

How did the logistics for this work? Did you alternate writing chapters or did one write than the other edited?

MHC: The way we worked on this collaboration is to first decide on a subject and meet for 4 or 5 hours in our editor’s office to flesh it out.  Alafair writes the first version.  I go over it and make my changes.  We meet for a second time to discuss any place we want to make changes.  Alafair writes the second version and I write my second.  Our third meeting is to fine tune any changes we want to make.

AB:  I thought I was pretty good at staying on task until I started working with Mary.  She can work for several hours straight without ever losing focus.  The planning we get done at the meetings makes our individual writing efforts flow o smoothly.

Could youdescribe premise and main characters of this book/series and which characters you two most resemble?

MHC: The main character is Laurie Moran, her two assistants Grace Garcia and Jerry Klein, her father Leo Farley – a retired police officer, her 9 year old son Timmy and Alex Buckley – the defense attorney who acts as host on the television show. I don’t think I resemble any of the characters.  I enjoy creating them.

AB: I don’t think either of us is exactly like the characters, but I do admire the way Laurie’s assistant, Grace, often says exactly what’s on her mind.

 Do you guys watch this kind of TV? Do you have favorite shows?

MHC: I certainly don’t have time to watch all or most of them; there are so many fine ones but the one I like very much is 48 Hours.

AB: My current addiction is Serial.  It’s not a TV show, but a podcast.  Just like Under Suspicion, it’s a reporter reinvestigating an old case in real time.  I bet serial fans might like to follow Laurie Moran as well.

Time for what I call the bonus question: Here is your chance to ask a question you wish you would get asked more often? Ask it and answer it.

MHC: When is your next book coming out?

Spring and one in the fall.

AB: What is the last thing you ate?

Sour patch candy, given to me by fellow author Karin Slaughter.  She might be trying to kill me with sugar.

 

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About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been doing special education work for about five years He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.

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