Writer’s block is definitely not a problem here.
“I’m very lucky, the words just flow,” said Katonah’s Wendy Corsi Staub, author of nearly 80 books in the suspense/thriller genre. An award-winning New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Ms. Staub also writes women’s fiction under her pseudonym, Wendy Markham.
Just a few of her well-known books are All the Way Home, In the Blink of an Eye, Fade to Black, The Last to Know, and Dearly Beloved. Her most recent book, Shadowkiller, was released about three weeks ago and is the third in a bestselling suspense trilogy that began with Nightwatcher and continued with Sleepwalker.
“I have always been a type A, energetic, fast-paced person, and that carries over into my writing habits,” she told The Ledger. “And I’ll admit that I work my tush off. Truly, aside from being a wife and mom, I do very little these days that doesn’t revolve around work deadlines and publicity travel.”
Ms. Staub said days off are “largely nonexistent” but “it’s because I have been blessed to have had many years now of multi-book contracts requiring me to write at least three mainstream suspense novels per year — some years as many as six or seven.”
Ms. Staub said it’s important to remember she has been a novelist for 20 years.
“Think of it as intense training,” she said. “It’s like an athlete who works certain muscles every single day. As long as you stay in shape and don’t get lazy, you are on top of your game. Skills that are second nature to me at this stage, like weaving complex plots, juggling multiple viewpoints, creating tension, and maintaining pacing, would be a much more painstaking process for a novice.”
Ms. Staub got started in her career early on. She received a bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing from the State University of New York at Fredonia and moved to New York City right after graduation.
“I decided to build a career in the Manhattan book publishing industry, correctly assuming it would be wise for an aspiring author to learn the business behind the scenes before attempting to break into print,” she said. “I started as a freelance reader and copywriter and became an associate editor, acquiring commercial fiction at a major publisher.”
Ms. Staub said she had been writing “novels from the time she was in elementary school” and continued to hone the craft, anonymously submitting manuscripts under a pseudonym to her fellow editors, as was the practice at the time.
“I racked up some rejections before I sold my first book, but I was undaunted,” she said. “I was learning the ropes and networking with industry professionals who would later resurface to become my editors and agents.”
Ms. Staub said her breakthrough novel was a supernatural thrilled called Summer Lightning, published by Harper Collins in 1993.
“It won that year’s RWA Rita Award for Best Young Adult Novel, and within a few months I had landed multi-book contracts with two well-known houses,” she said. “I went on to publish over a dozen young adult novels before the market for that genre waned. I then reinvented myself as an adult suspense novelist and also began writing women’s fiction under the pseudonym Wendy Markham.”
Ms. Staub said it was during this period in her career that she co-authored a series of mystery novels with New York City Mayor Ed Koch and became a ghostwriter for a number of celebrities and high-profile authors.
“This allowed me to establish a track record with various publishing houses,” she said. “Editors of these high-profile projects knew they could count on me to meet tight deadlines and be professionally discreet, and these connections came in handy down the road on my own projects.”
After this period in her professional life, things just took off and Ms. Staub decided to embrace the thriller/mystery genre.
“I have always appreciated a solid whodunit, the kind of book or movie that is intelligently written and keeps you guessing, with plenty of plot twists and a blindside you never see coming,” she said. “I appreciate psychological domestic suspense featuring three-dimensional characters you might meet in your everyday life — ordinary people who cross paths with extraordinary circumstances. Those are the kinds of books I read, and now they are what I write.”
Ms. Staub is now happily writing for Harper Collins, and her most recent book, Shadowkiller, was released earlier this month.
Shawdowkiller is third in a trilogy that includes Nightwatcher and Sleepwalker.
“They are set in a fictionalized Katonah, called Glenhaven Park. I’ve used it in some other books, also,” she said. “Local readers can view the video book trailers for both Sleepwalker and Shadowkiller on the homepage of my website and will find some familiar footage, I am sure.”
Ms. Staub, who is originally from Dunkirk in the upstate New York “snow belt,” moved with her husband, Mark, to Katonah 17 years ago.
“His former boss lived here and often raved about Katonah and its civilized Metro-North commute, friendly small-town lifestyle, and the architectural and natural beauty of the town itself,” she said.
Ms. Staub said she had never “laid eyes on it until we visited with a Realtor, and wound up making an offer the first day on the first house we visited.
“We knew instantly that the vintage Sears catalog house in the charming hamlet was meant to be our home. Two decades later, we are still there, now with our teenaged sons Morgan and Brody, both of whom went through Katonah Elementary and John Jay Middle School and are now at John Jay High School.”
Ms. Staub is now in the midst of her third consecutive three-book contract for Harper Collins.
“All three of these suspense novels will have a social networking theme, tied to the premise that you never know who is really lurking behind a screen name on the Internet,” she said. “The first book, The Good Sister, goes on sale in September, and I am now writing the second book, The Perfect Stranger, with a fast-approaching deadline in the midst of a looming March book tour that will take me to the Midwest and down South.”
Let it flow.
For more information: wendycorsistaub.com.