|Photo by Jacob Gerritsen|
In 1987, her first novel was published. Call After Midnight, a romantic thriller, was followed by eight more romantic suspense novels. She also wrote a screenplay, “Adrift”, which aired as a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week starring Kate Jackson.
Tess’s first medical thriller, Harvest, was released in hardcover in 1996, and it marked her debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Her suspense novels since then have been: Life Support (1997), Bloodstream (1998), Gravity (1999), The Surgeon (2001), The Apprentice (2002), The Sinner (2003), Body Double (2004), Vanish (2005), The Mephisto Club (2006), The Bone Garden (2007), The Keepsake (2008; UK title: Keeping the Dead), and Ice Cold (2010; UK title: The Killing Place.) Her books have been published in forty countries, and more than 25 million copies have been sold around the world.
Her books have been top-5 bestsellers in the United States and abroad.
Her series of novels featuring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the TNT television series “Rizzoli & Isles” starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.
Now retired from medicine, she writes full time.
1. A good writer always has its roots in a good reader. Could you tell to Simplyreaders, which one is that book that you will never forget or maybe you have read more than once and you would read dozens of times more?
I don't generally re-read books over and over, because I'm always on the hunt for the next amazing writer. But there are a few books that I will always remember, books that affected me as a writer. "EYE OF THE NEEDLE" by Ken Follett sticks in my mind not just because it was the first "faction" book I'd read (a cross between fiction and fact, having to do with World War II), but also because it taught me that ordinary people, when called on to do heroic things, are the best heroes of all. In Follett's book, the heroine is an unhappy English wife and mother who somehow finds the inner resources to single-handedly defeat a German spy and turn the course of the war. "BONE COLLECTOR" by Jeffrey Deaver showed me how fascinating the smallest forensic details can be. And Stephen King's "CARRIE" taught me that the most memorable characters are those who start off powerless, only to find their power sometimes to destructive ends.
2. Screenplays, tours (and family, of course) - and still you have time to share with your followers - Simplyreaders among them - through social networks. Where does Tess Gerritsen find the reward for all this effort?
The "reward" is the chance to connect with a multitude of people I wouldn't otherwise get a chance to meet. Sometimes I do get to meet them on book tours. But in this internationally connected world, Twitter and Facebook allow me to actually exchange thoughts with so many people. Sometimes, of course, the demands get overwhelming and I disappear for a while, avoiding the internet entirely. But when I'm back in control of my schedule, I try to get back on social media to at least say hello and to share cool things I've discovered online.
3. Rizzolli and Isles. How the characters born?
They came about organically. Jane Rizzoli first appeared in THE SURGEON as a secondary character. She wasn't even supposed to survive that book, and I had her demise planned towards the end of the story. But in the course of writing the book, she grew on me. I understood who she was, and why she was so unhappy. I admired her spunk, her cleverness, and most of all her tenaciousness. I just couldn't let her die, so she survived -- and went on to the next book, THE APPRENTICE. That's where I introduced Maura Isles, but only as a secondary character. And SHE began to fascinate me. She was mysterious, unknowable, and brilliant. Who was she? I had to write THE SINNER to find out more about her. Suddenly, I had a series without ever planning one.
4. Did you ever imagined that J. Rizolli and M. Isles will be taken to the TV? How time-absorbing is that for you now?
Nope. I never imagined a series. When the producer (Bill Haber) first contacted me, I was happy to sign the contract, but I didn't expect it would actually happen. So when it happened, I was stunned and in some ways, I still don't believe it. I haven't had to do any of the work, as the TV series has its own team of writers. My only job is to pre-screen the episodes and write a synopsis for the TNT website. Other than that, I'm just another lucky viewer.
5. Rizolli and Isles are already icons to fans of thrillers. Any plans for new characters on future books?
I'm now finishing the tenth book in the series, called LAST TO DIE. It brings back one of the characters from ICE COLD, a 16-year-old boy named Julian "Rat" Perkins, who saved Maura's life in the Wyoming mountains. Now he's attending a mysterious school in Maine, where all the students have a peculiar feature in common they're all survivors of terrible crimes. Maura goes to visit him at the Evensong School, where disturbing happenings make her realize that a killer may be among them.
follow Tess Gerritsen on Twitter @tessgerritsen
He grew up in the historic town of St Andrews, Scotland. He studied Modern Languages and Film Studies at Oxford University and went on to work as a translator, a professional musician, a pistol shooting instructor and a freelance journalist before becoming a full-time writer.
Scott had the idea for the Ben Hope character while out walking one day, and the first draft of the first novel was written in just three weeks. The book had a brief spell in hardback, selling its print run in less than two months. The Avon imprint of HarperCollins then bought the paperback rights and offered Scott a four-book deal, launching the series in earnest. Within less than a year of the initial contract being signed, Scott was commissioned to write three more Ben Hope books.
THE ALCHEMIST’S SECRET was an immediate success, storming the Heatseekers list and Tesco and Amazon bestseller charts while selling foreign rights all over the world. The follow-up novel THE MOZART CONSPIRACY appeared in July 2008.
1. Ben Hope has had a really exciting and full of action career in just a few years. It now looks like Alex Bishop keeps your hands and mind busy. Will we have a chance to enjoy more from Major Hope in the future?
I’ve been inundated with emails from readers worried that The Shadow Project is the last in the Ben Hope series. Maybe it’s because of the ending, and because I was able to tie up some loose threads from Ben’s past life in the story – and maybe also because I started a new vampire thriller series. But I can certainly assure you that there will be plenty more Ben Hope books to come. In fact, I’ve just finished writing the sixth one. Titled The Lost Relic, it will be out in the UK in January.
2. From smashing action thrillers to vampires intrigues (also in high speed plots). Is that an obvious reflection of the ever-changing life of Scott Mariani? I ask this knowing that you have passed through as many varied and exciting activities in your life.
Every writer, I’m sure, to some degree draws on their own life experiences to inspire stories and characters in their work. For me, my love of travel has in the past brought me into contact with lots of different cultures and languages, which it’s been a pleasure to incorporate into my writing. As for the action side of things, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to draw on certain areas of knowledge… but I’m happy to say that my life has never been quite as exciting or risky as the existence led by Ben Hope or any of my other characters! The closest my life gets to Ben’s is in his quieter moments at his countryside base in France, enjoying walks in the woods with Storm, his dog. I know it’s boring, but at least I can be fairly confident I won’t get shot at by bad guys at any moment…
To be honest, I don’t think there is a problem – in fact I believe that reading is in a very healthy state at the moment. A very close friend of mine tried a few years ago to write a book for children, and was told by major publishers that children didn’t like to read and were more interested in picture books. Then along came JK Rowling and Harry Potter, and suddenly millions of children were avidly reading again! The same has happened with Twilight and many popular franchises. I think, in fact, that the huge explosion in popular fiction, across all genres and for all age groups, has meant that many people are reading books who a few years ago might not have been so interested. I certainly get a lot of correspondence from readers telling me that they’ve started becoming interested in books again as a result of my work. That is incredibly heartwarming to hear. I also think that electronic media and the rise of the E-book format are going to revolutionize the way people respond to written fiction. Everybody loves a good story, and I think that despite some people’s fears that movies and computer games are going to detract from book-reading, this isn’t something that’s going to die.
4. And coming back to your work. Any expectations to translate your books to other languages?
I’ve been very happy, from the beginning of the Ben Hope series, with the way that many countries have latched onto this character and his adventures. To date, there are over thirty editions of the Ben Hope books, in about twenty countries. This number increases all the time. And even though the Vampire Federation books are a very new series, translation rights are already beginning to sell. I get emails from readers all over the world, for which I’m very grateful.
5. Can you imagine Benedict Hope or Alex Bishop someday on the big screen?
I’m pleased to say that a Ben Hope movie project is already in development. We have a great script written by a wonderful screenwriter, we have a fantastic production team coming together, headed up by Ileen Maisel and Mark Ordesky, who between them have given the world some of the greatest movies ever, e.g. Dangerous Liaisons and Lord of the Rings. We also have a huge star lined up to play Ben Hope. I’m sworn to secrecy on this at present, but we all hope to be able to make a formal announcement in the not too distant future! I’m particularly excited by the idea of a Ben Hope film, being such a huge movie fan myself.
He was born in 1973 and grew up mainly in Africa and Asia. He read English literature at St Catherine's College, Oxford, after which he worked as a journalist. His work has been published by The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, Mojo and Time Out. His debut novel, Free Agent, the first in a trilogy of spy thrillers set during the Cold War, is available from Simon & Schuster in the United Kingdom and Canada and Viking Penguin in the United States. He lives with his family in Stockholm, Sweden.
1. Good writers begin being good readers. Can you recall that first book that marked your life?
I think, like a lot of teenagers, it was The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. It wasn't at all what I expected from a book, and it seemed to say something about my life. I wanted to be a writer before I'd finished it.
2. Free Agent has a number of special features, amongst others, I would say that there are no good or bad guys. The big merit is that everybody looks after their own interests in the story, all of them more or less justifiable. Why did you decide to create those kind of characters?
I prefer shades of grey to everything being black or white. I also think life is like that. Nothing is every that simple. For example, Hiter was truly evil. But Britiain allied itself with the Soviet Union to defeat the Nazis, and Stalin was also truly evil. Free Agent is set in Nigeria in 1969, during a civil war, and a lot of other countries were pursuing their own interests in that conflict. So I suppose I extended these broad ideas to the characters. I think it's more realistic, but also more interesting.
Thanks! And yes, it is a trilogy: Free Country will be published in the UK on August 5 and in the US next year. I'm currently finishing writing the final book in the trilogy, Free World. I'm not sure what will happen to Paul Dark after that.
Interesting question. I think a whole range of things have to happen for the rate of reading to rise, from the education system to funding for libraries, the price and availability of books, and so on. Publishers also have a part to play, as do writers. I'm British but I live in Sweden, and it seems that a lot of people here are avid readers, just looking around. But then, it starts getting dark at around three pm in winter, so perhaps that's a contributory factor!
5. As a Spanish speaker I need to ask you, will Free Agent - and subsecuent books- be translated to Spanish or other languages?
Well, I hope so, but I haven't sold any foreign-language rights to any of the books yet. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed for it.
Thanks for the interview!