Cover Story: Wendy Corsi Staub
Wendy Corsi Staub is a New York Times Bestselling and award winning author of over 90 novels. She writes keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat psychological suspense thrillers under her own name, and also writes women’s fiction under the nom de plume Wendy Markham. Wendy (under both names) can also be found on the USA Today, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Bookscan bestseller lists!
In the interest of full disclosure, I have known Wendy since we were kids, decades ago in the small Western NY city of Dunkirk, NY. I have always loved Wendy’s offbeat personality, clever wit, sense of adventure and enthusiasm for life. In later years, I’ve been quite envious of her ability to accomplish 18 things at once, including raising and getting two boys through college, having a great relationship with her husband Mark for over 2 decades, swimming several times a week, cooking, baking, maintaining a beautiful home, and just being an awesome human being. I also envy her ability to pop in and out of NYC from her Westchester County home whenever she pleases. Girl, you can stop overachieving and making the rest of us look bad now! Just kidding, stay awesome.
So, I wanted to ask Wendy a few questions so you could get to know her…
When and how did you decide you wanted to be a writer/author?
“When I was nine, my third grade teacher, Mrs. Pizzolanti, gave me my first writing assignment. I chose to write about Abraham Lincoln, my favorite president. I’d been a little obsessed with him ever since I’d read his biography in the “Young Americans” series—remember those? Abe was shy, and he loved to read! Abe was just like me! My parents had driven me from my western New York hometown to see the Lincoln monument and Ford Theater in Washington D.C. one summer and to Lincoln’s childhood home in Springfield, IL, another summer. That’s the kind of parents they were. The other kids complained about the assignment, but I secretly enjoyed it. When Mrs. Pizzolanti had read all our essays, she singled me out. I was afraid she was going to criticize my awful cursive. It was my worst subject.
Instead, she told me I had writing talent. She hung my essay on the bulletin board for everyone to see. That day, I went home from school and told my parents that I was a good writer, according to my teacher. I wanted to become an author when I grew up. I never changed my mind. I’m stubborn like that!”
Why did you choose to write about the paranormal stuff?
“I’ve just always been fascinated by ghosts and hauntings, and I had a creepy experience with a door that kept opening by itself while babysitting for my cousins as a kid. Later, I found out from former and subsequent owners that the house was reputed to be haunted, and stuff like that happened all the time. As far as writing it, though–paranormal fiction was selling like hotcakes a few times when I really needed to get back under contract. The market has ebbed and flowed over time–sometimes it sells, sometimes, it doesn’t. But I’ve focused on suspense for a years now and haven’t written paranormal in ages.”
Do you ever scare yourself with the ideas you come up with?
God, no. As far as I’m concerned, the only things that are truly frightening in the real world are the unknown, and things you can’t control. When I write a book, I know what’s going on, and why, and who’s behind it–and I’m in control.
Do you secretly model any of the characters that you are going to kill after people you know in real life and don’t like?
If I told you that, I’d have to kill you. And I like you.
In your wildest dreams, is there another occupation you’d like to do if you weren’t a writer? What would that be?
So many possibilities. I love to cook and entertain, so maybe a caterer? I also love to travel, so travel agent. And I love wine, so a wino? I mean, um, sommelier.
What projects do you have coming up?
My latest suspense novel with HarperCollins, LITTLE GIRL LOST, came out in July. It stems from my personal fascination with genealogy, and is the first of three standalone novels with continuing characters who are foundlings—people who were abandoned as babies and grew up never knowing who they are or where they came from. Having recently discovered that my own great-grandfather was a doorstep baby in nineteenth century Sicily, I’ve been using DNA testing and ancestry records in an effort to solve the mystery of his past. While he passed away long before I was born, and our family may never have answers, my characters embark on similar quests—albeit in more sinister circumstances. After all, not all who are lost want to be found, right?
The book is set in 1968 and 1987 and is the first of three connected novels, but it stands along. You might recognize some fun 80s tidbits I’ve used to enhance the time and place. By the way, this is now considered “historical” fiction! But ultimately, LITTLE GIRL LOST reads like my other suspense novels, filled with plot twists, populated by three-dimensional characters, and set against a vibrant backdrop.
Also in July, I published a short story for middle graders published in R.L. Stine’s upcoming anthology SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN.
You can read more about Wendy Corsi Staub and view her entire booklist at wendycorsistaub.com.