Local author gets a big break

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - One local woman shares her passion for reading and says if you can read you can accomplish anything.

Mary Jo Labeff was just a young girl when she discovered her love for books.

"From the time I was a little kid I always loved books,  and even if I couldn't read the words I wanted to open it up and look through the pictures and imagine what was happening in the story myself, " said LaBeff.

LaBeff says reading changed her life, especially when she discovered suspense novels.

"I think by the time I was in my senior year in high school, maybe college, I discovered Mary Higgins Clark, the queen of suspense novels. And I devoured every single one of her books. And she was the person who probably made me think more about gosh I would like to write a book myself, " said LaBeff.

That inspired LaBeff to put pen to paper. Her first book was self-published after she was rejected by more than 40 literary agents. In 2017, after writing nine books, she got her big break. A publishing company said they'd published the four books in her thriller series, called the Last Cold Case. And most recently, she was recognized for her writing by the American Book Fest.

"About a month ago I received an email saying that my book, Last Summers Evil won the American Fiction Award in the thriller category, and I also was a finalist in their Mystery and Suspense category," said LaBeff.  

Study after study shows that children who are read to frequently do better in school. LaBeff says, if you can read, you can achieve anything.

"For me personally it's the air I breathe. I can't stop. I can take a short break in between a novel, but you can't stop it once you start," said LaBeff.

If you'd like to buy LaBeff's books, click here.


At KGUN9 we are dedicated to making sure children in our community have books. The reality is, far too many children in Tucson and across the nation grow up without a single book.

As part of KGUN 9's If you give a child a book, literacy campaign, we have teamed up with Peter Piper Pizza. You can donate an unused book at any of our 9 locations.

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