Paul chats with

       Tess Gerritsen

PA: Hi Tess - Congratulations on finishing your latest Rizzoli and Isles thriller – how do you feel?

 

TG: Hi Paul - Whenever I finish a manuscript, I always feel a bit lost for a week or so. The story has obsessed me for the past year, so it's hard to suddenly set it aside and stop thinking about it.  Mostly, though, is a sense of relief that I was able to pull the plot together, despite those relentless fears of failure.  Fears, I might add, which will never go away no matter how many books I've written.

 

PA: What is the general outline of the story?

 

TG: While on a trip to Wyoming, Maura Isles and four friends get stranded during a blizzard and find themselves trapped in a remote village where all the inhabitants have mysteriously vanished.  Every attempt to escape leads to worse and worse horrors. What happened to the villagers?  Who -- or what -- is watching them in the woods?  The secret of what really happened to the people of Kingdom Come will threaten Maura's life. 

 

PA: How do you usually celebrate the final edit of your book before submitting it to your agent/editor?

 

TG: A few glasses of wine and a nice dinner out.  But mostly, I celebrate by collapsing on the couch and mindlessly surfing TV channels.

 

PA: The US title will be Ice Cold and the UK version The Killing Place – why the change in title for the 'across the pond' version?

 

TG: My two publishers couldn't agree on the title.  It's not all that unusual for this to happen, as the markets are quite different in taste and sensibility.  My US publisher, for instance, felt that THE KILLING PLACE was a bit too "hard-edged" for the American market, and they wanted something that women would feel more comfortable with.  My UK publisher felt that THE KILLING PLACE was far more thriller-ish, and that it would sell better in their market.  They also chose different cover designs

 

PA: Will you be doing any book signings in the UK when the book is released? If so, do you know where/when yet?

 

TG: I do hope so, although no concrete plans have yet been announced.

 

PA: Genre writers are often given a deadline for a book by their publisher even before an idea has entered their head – do you find this process disheartening, or does it push you on to keep writing? Does writing still hold as much a thrill for you as when you first started out, or does it sometimes seem a chore?

 

TG: It does tend to put a lot of pressure on me.  But it also forces me to focus, and it certainly makes me work faster.  For the past thirteen books, I've managed to meet my deadlines, but it really does become frantic toward the end as I race to finish the book.  If I could design the perfect life, I would write without deadlines, turning in the books only when I feel they're ready.  But that's not realistic in today's publishing climate, and it would probably lead to massive procrastination on my part.  

 

PA: How far in advance are you given a deadline - do you already have a deadline for your next book?

 

TG: Every contract specifies the deadline date for each book.  I'm now working under a three-book contract, so I know my deadline dates for the next three years.

 

PA: You have managed to spread your writing across three different genres (romance, crime, thriller), sometimes incorporating all three in one piece of work – are there any other genres you want to write in, such as horror?

 

TG: I write the story that speaks to me.  If it happens to cross into another genre, so be it.  For instance, GRAVITY (a thriller set on the International Space Station) could be construed by some as science fiction.  I didn't set out to write a SF novel -- I just wanted to write a story incorporating space science.  THE BONE GARDEN is a cross-genre historical/thriller/romance.  Once again, I didn't set out to break through barriers.  I just wanted to tell that particular story, and it required expanding my horizons.  As for which other genres I'd like to write in, I would love to write a young adult/ horror series someday.  I already have a concept for it!

 

PA: I understand that at a young age, your mother took you to see horror movies – how much of an influence did this exposure have on you as a writer?

 

TG: A big influence.  Horror films are a great way to learn about the mechanics of suspense.  Watch enough of them, and you'll understand how to build tension, how to craft characters, and how to pace a story.  Even the really bad horror films are worth watching, because they teach you how not to do it.

 

PA: What are your favourite horror books and films?

 

TG: The movies that still stick with me, years later, are:  "Robinson Crusoe on Mars" (I know it sounds silly, but it enthralled me as a child), and the original B&W version of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," which was psychologically horrifying for a child.

 

PA: What is your greatest fear as a writer?

 

TG: That I'll go demented and be unable to write.  My father had Alzheimer's Disease, and I worry constantly that I'll come down with it myself.

 

PA: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement and greatest failure as a writer?

 

TG: My greatest achievement as a writer?  GRAVITY.  And BONE GARDEN.  Those books were unlike anything else I've written, and they really forced me to expand my horizons and take risks.  My greatest failure?  Although not all my books were equally well-received, I think they have all succeeded on some level.  In the book business, what succeeds and fails in the marketplace is beyond the author's control.

 

PA: Have you incorporated any events that have happened in your own life into your works of fiction?

 

TG: BLOODSTREAM was based on my experiences as a parent of a teenage boy.  There were some pretty turbulent years there, and I rolled a lot of my own life into that story.

 

PA: Have you ever thought about doing a non-fiction piece of writing (such as Stephen King's On Writing) or a Biography?

 

TG: If I did a nonfiction book, it would probably be about some quirky topic that fascinates me.  For instance, I would love to write a book about the history of the "french fry."  I'm addicted to french fries, and have sampled them around the world.  The research alone would be heaven for me!

 

PA: Would you ever consider doing a collaborative writing piece with another author? If so, who would be the top three in your list?

 

 

TG: No. I don't collaborate well.  I'm too much of a control freak.

 

PA: What are your writing habits? Do you have any bad habits?

 

TG: I try to get to my desk by mid-morning, and I write until dinnertime.  I try to turn out four first-draft pages a day.  My worst habit is surfing the internet.  I really should work in a place without web access!

 

PA: What works of 2009 have you most admired?

 

TG: WOLF HALL.  Absolutely gorgeous writing.  

 

PA: When writing, do you still find time to read often?

 

TG: I love books and articles about archaeology and the ancient world.  I also have a pile of galleys from other authors on my nightstand, but I can't always find the time to read them.

 

PA: In the opening chapter of my work The Pink Room, Money, Power, Love and Fame are ranked – how would you rank them?

 

TG: If you mean, how would I rank them in importance for my own life, I would say Love, Money, Power, and Fame.