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Friday, June 12, 2015

Combining logic and 'the emotional side'

“There is no better test of character than when you're tossed into crisis. That's when we see one's true colors shine through. So I try my best to make my characters personally involved in the plot, in a way that stresses them and tests them.” – Tess Gerritsen

Tess Gerritsen (born Terry) grew up in San Diego and longed to be a writer, but her family had reservations about the sustainability of a writing career, so Gerritsen chose a career in medicine.

But while home on maternity leave, she finally took the plunge into the writing world, although not into the genre’ that would ultimately make her famous.  Instead, she went with Harlequin and did a series of paperback romance novels.  Her colleagues kept urging her to combine her writing skills and medical background instead, and finally in 1996 she wrote Harvest, her first medical thriller.  It’s the story of a detective and doctor working together (sound familiar?) to solve the mystery of orphans disappearing and who they think are being used as organ donors. 

Three more bestselling medical thrillers followed before she wrote her landmark medical examiner/detective partnership called Rizzoli and Isles.  Eleven books and a 5-year television series later, the franchise is still going strong.
   Tess Gerritsen

Although most of her recent books have been in the Rizzoli/Isles series, in 2007 Gerritsen wrote a stand-alone historical thriller titled The Bone Garden.  A tale of gruesome murders, the book is set primarily in 1830s Boston and includes a character based on Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes.  Historical fiction at its best and readers agree. 
“I think that, for physicians who want to become writers, they have the material and the smarts,” Gerritsen said in a bit of advice to any fellow doctors hoping to get into the writing field.  “They have the logic, they know the stories; it's just a matter of being able to connect with their emotional sides - that's the key to writing good fiction.”

Gerritsen knows of what she speaks.  Her books have sold over 25 million copies in 40 different countries – and that doesn’t even count what she’s done on the TV show which, by the way, starts its 6th season this coming week.  Enjoy!

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