Q & A WITH / CAROL HIGGINS CLARK, author: Writer's new password is 'Zapped'

In April, Carol Higgins Clark released book No. 11 in her Regan Reilly Mystery Series. She also has co-authored four Christmas-themed thrillers with her mother.

In Clark's latest, "Zapped" (Scribner, $24), Regan, a private eye, and her new beau, Jack, head of the NYPD's major case squad, spend a sweltering night solving mysteries during a blackout.

Q: What inspired you to set "Zapped" during a blackout?

A: I had had foot surgery and had been staying at my mother's. I returned to the city the day of the blackout. I was up in my apartment and planning to meet friends for dinner when the power went off. ... I crutched down 19 flights of stairs and got out my car and drove uptown. ... It was an adventure that night.

Q: All your books have snappy one-word titles, like "Twanged" and "Popped." What made you decide to do that?

A: My first book was about a murder on a cruise ship, and my mother came up with the title "Decked." My second book takes place at a pantyhose convention, where a murderer is lurking. I said if that one was "Decked," this should be "Snagged." So it happened by accident.

Q: Were you really a contestant on the old "Super Password" game show?

A: I actually was an undefeated champion, but I never won the big money. ... I missed the $35,000 pot, which was very distressing, to say the least! ... My parting gifts included Lee Press-on Nails and numerous cartons of macaroni.

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