To Die For
Wendy Corsi Staub
If you’ve run into Wendy Corsi Staub on a checkout line or at the school bus stop in Katonah over the past 17 years, chances are she’s been plotting a murder. Staub isn’t a criminal, but rather a wife and mom of two who has also managed to craft a killer career as a best-selling suspense writer, with several of her 80 books set in Glenhaven Park, a fictionalized version of Katonah.
“My thrillers fall into the ‘suburban noir’ genre,” explained Staub, acknowledging that she often draws on her own experiences in her books, many of them New York Times and USA Today bestsellers. “They’re about extraordinary events striking ordinary people and places. Many of us moved here from the city because it’s perceived to be a safer place to raise a family. I write about danger crossing the threshold of one’s cozy, familiar haven, and Katonah happens to be mine. So wherever I go in my daily travels around town, I’m thinking, ‘Hmm—what if?’”
This fall, her latest thriller, The Good Sister, will be published by HarperCollins. In February, Shadowkiller was released, completing another suspense trilogy, and she’s already under contract for yet another three-book deal. She also writes women’s fiction under the pen name Wendy Markham, and has written a slew of young adult books in her two decades as an author.
The award-winning Staub is not only successful but prolific, pumping out sometimes three suspense novels a year from her desk in the Sears catalog home in Katonah she and her husband Mark purchased nearly 18 years ago. So how has she managed to raise two children and write at that pace?
Waking up to write hours before her sons Morgan and Brody needed to get off to school worked well for many years, but now that they’re teenagers, keeping to a strict writing schedule has been more challenging. “Being a mom is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. And I’m blessed to have a husband who’s not just my business manager, but is also hands-on when it comes to kids, errands, and laundry so I can focus on the book I’m writing,” Staub says.
Readers and neighbors alike are often surprised to hear that not only does Staub set such sinister tales in a bucolic suburban hamlet, but that she writes them smack dab in the middle of one as well. “When our boys were young and we were all meeting new friends, if people didn’t specifically ask what I did for a living, I wouldn’t tell them,” she says. “I still don’t. There’s freedom in anonymity. But one of the nicest things about living here is that lots of people have offbeat careers, many in the entertainment field. At this point, though, my local friends are used to me and my dark, dangerous, twisted mind. For example, I can ask our lawyer, who is also our neighbor, a specific question about a murder or a will, and he’ll laugh and ask me who I’m killing off now.”
Staub’s newest release is the first in a trio of standalone thrillers all centered on an aspect of social networking. The Good Sister is about a suburban mom whose teenaged daughter falls victim to cyberbullies. The second book, The Perfect Stranger, centers on a network of bloggers, and the third, The Blind Date, involves an online dating site. “The three books are linked not by characters or setting,” Staub says, “but by the single premise: Do you know who is really lurking behind that screen name?”
Although she can’t yet discuss the details, The Good Sister has been optioned by a major television producer. But even the lure of Hollywood wouldn’t be able to steal Staub and her family away from Katonah. “Having been to 49 states, I’m convinced that there is no more picturesque town in America,” she explains. “I’m as captivated
by Katonah’s landscape as I am by the charming old houses and 19th-century storefronts. I love that we have a thriving business district. And of course, I’m a regular at the Katonah library, where the librarians always know first what I’m working on by the books I’m checking out.”