I grew up reading the suspense novels of Mary Higgins Clark. Her books are fun, suspenseful, and scary. She’s a master of the page-turner, a master of raising all these questions in your head so you want to keep reading to find out what happens. Her heroines are likeable and sympathetic, people you want to root for. And her books are clean. No worries about gore, foul language, or sex scenes. Sometimes the villains or stories are pretty creepy, as you might expect in suspense novels, but the stories are never gruesome or stomach-turning or graphic—just fun, spine-chilling reads. Mary Higgins Clark is one of my author heroes.
Despite the fact that Mary Higgins Clark creates creepy situations and villains, I don’t remember it ever occurring to me that Clark herself—not her books, but the woman—was creepy. She was simply an author skilled at writing suspense—an elegant woman with her hair swept up and classy jewelry (she has awesome back cover photos). I loved her creepy stories, but didn’t think that she was creepy. Or twisted. Or had a “dark side.” But on multiple occasions, I’ve gotten comments along these lines from readers of my books.
Naturally, if someone says something about my creepiness, I’ll just smile or joke, ha ha, yes, I’m so scary, or what have you. I assume they don't mean it in a bad way . . . I hope. It might even be a compliment on the book--what a creepy, twisty story! You must have a twisty mind!--but it’s happened enough that it’s starting to . . . um . . . bother me a little. What exactly do people mean when they say I have a dark side or a twisted mind? Do they think I’m a scary person? That behind the smiling mommy/stake girls camp director/amateur violinist/professional procrastinator façade that I’m . . . what? Sacrificing cats?
Since the comments tend to come from people who know me personally, I’m guessing they just find it . . . I don’t know . . . surprising? Odd? Scary? . . . that I can come up with these creepy stories, since I seem like . . . um . . . a person who wouldn’t be able to come up with creepy stories? Help me out here. Is it because I’m a Mormon mommy that I get these comments—is this an unusual business for a Mormon housewife to be in? (And for anyone unfamiliar with my work who is now sitting there scandalized wondering what type of horrors I’m writing, this is LDS fiction, folks. Clean stuff. My 92-year-old grandfather enjoys my books).
I guess the thinking is that to come up with scary stories, you must have a scary mind, just as, um, quilting requires a quilting sort of mind, and taking care of toddlers involves a large section of your mind labeled “sticky things and loud noises.” So I guess I am creepy. That would explain the people fleeing in terror when I utter those spine-chilling words, "Go do the dishes, kids."