I’ve honestly been struggling over what questions to ask. I’m sure in your twenty plus years as a novelist you’ve answered the same questions hundreds of times. “So where do you get your ideas from? How did you become a writer? Yada yada yada
I didn’t want to ask you those same questions again so I’ve been nervously agonising over it. I’ve never been this close to an International Bestselling author. The first time I met Chef Michael Smith from the Canadian Food Network I was so stunned that the only thing I remember is that his feet were huge. I don’ want to repeat that. So I’ve finally decided that since my blog is small with a tiny following that I should just ask the questions I as a writer trying to get out there and a fan would want to know the answers to.
I’ve done my research so please let me do a quick run down for everyone.
-as a kid you wanted to be a writer but your father said, no that you were going to be a doctor
-you went on maternity leave for your first child and wrote, Call After Midnight, a romantic suspense novel published in 1987
-Almost 10 years later you switched to medical thrillers with Harvest. This was your big boost to your career.
-5 years later your published The Surgeon which was the first appearance of Detective Jane Rizzoli
-The next year was the first appearance of Dr. Maura Isles in The Apprentice
First thing I want to know is, what is a day in the life of an International Bestseller like?
Mostly a lot of procrastination. Writing is still work, and it requires pushing aside distractions and focusing. I’m not always so good at it. Sometimes it takes me a few hours (after breakfast, coffee, emails, etc.) to really start putting words to the page. My goal is to write 4 first-draft pages a day.
Can you tell me your writing process for that first draft?
I start with a premise, an idea for the opening scenes, and away I go. I don’t write extensive outlines, and I often have to feel my way through the story. The first draft is really all about discovering what the story’s about. I write with pen and paper for the first draft — I find that composing new material on the computer makes me want to over-edit every single sentence, and then I never get on to the next page.
This other author that lives in Maine says you should have your own writing space with a door that locks…what is your writing space like?
I have a dedicated home office above the garage. It’s a nightmare of a mess, with books and papers overflowing everywhere. But I do have a really nice view of the ocean from my desk.
For my second draft I print what I have out then with a pen go over every line adding and subtracting things then put it in the computer changing even more. What is your re-writing process?
Yep, that’s my process too. I type in my handwritten pages, print them out, and work on paper. I always work on paper. I start with making sure the story is logical and the characters are consistent. Maybe I rearrange scene order. I add more emotional/textural details. I explain things that may have been unclear. I input it all, print it, and go on to the third draft. And the fourth. With every draft, it gets a little better. On average, I probably write about five drafts.
About three-quarters of the way through, I realized I’d grown to like her — or at least, understand her. She was a real fighter, and she was working against a lot of prejudices. It seemed cruel to kill such a woman.
Did you write her death scene?
No, but I knew exactly when and where it WOULD have been.
Dr. Maura Isles got her name from a contest for people to name a character in a novel. Did you have that character already written? If so what was her original name? And did the character change any?
I knew I needed a medical examiner for that novel, and the name had already been won at the auction. So she was called Maura Isles right away.
When did you decide YES, these two belong together in a series?
In the third book, THE SINNER. Both women had so many personal issues that I wanted to explore — and their relationship intrigued me.
You’re contracted for at least two more Rizzoli and Isles novels. Is that going to be it for the two of them?
I don’t know. I’ll see how I feel after the two books are written.
I tried sending manuscripts off to agents and publishers. (I got rejected by your agent last year) and then I saw a friend had put out a book and I decided to go the indie way. What do you think of the Indie Author?
I think indie publishing is a marvelous opportunity for writers, and offers you total control over your stories. From the writer’s point of view, it’s a terrific development. From the consumer’s point of view, it leads to a lot of uncertainty about which book to purchase, because there’s no way to judge ahead of time. I’ve read some pretty good indie stories — and some pretty awful ones.
Do you read any Indie books? Who?
I really enjoy Joe Konrath’s thrillers.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Get outside and get some sunshine. Travel. Indulge your curiosity. It’s important to always seek story inspiration in real life.
I often feel that when I meet someone I should give them a disclaimer, “anything you do or say to me may end up in a future story or novel.” Do you feel the same way? Can you give me an instance of something from the lives around you that made it into a novel?
Oh, yes. Anything I see or hear could end up in a future story. THE APPRENTICE was inspired by a late-night limo pick-up at the airport. Sitting alone in the back seat of that dark vehicle, I realized I knew nothing about the guy driving the car — or even if he was who he said he was.
Now for some fun quick fire questions…
Coffee or tea?
Coffee in the morning. Tea in the afternoon.
Depends on my mood. The truth is, I AM Maura Isles.
Do you watch Rizzoli and Isles?
Who is your favorite character from the TV show?
I have a particular fondness for Detective Korsak.
What do you do when no one is looking?
Surf the internet. Way too much.
I’m a chef so I have to ask – what do you eat while writing?
Nothing. Unless it’s a sneaked piece of chocolate.
Best part of being an author is?
Worst part of being an author is?
3 books everyone should read
LONESOME DOVE, ANNA KARENINA, and THE POISONWOOD BIBLE.
Favorite book when you were a child
Favorite book now?
I just finished “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.” Loved it!
I love SF. Particular faves: “Galaxy Quest” and the re-make of “Star Trek”
I want to thank Tess for this opportunity. For more information on Tess Gerritsen and her books go to tessgerritsen.com and check out this FREE short story starring Rizzoli & Isles Freaks and just in case you missed my review of her novel Keepsake.
Tess Gerritsen’s latest Rizzoli & Isles novel Last to Die
Jane spirits Teddy to the exclusive Evensong boarding school, a sanctuary where young victims of violent crime learn the secrets and skills of survival in a dangerous world. But even behind locked gates, and surrounded by acres of sheltering Maine wilderness, Jane fears that Evensong’s mysterious benefactors aren’t the only ones watching. When strange blood-splattered dolls are found dangling from a tree, Jane knows that her instincts are dead on. And when she meets Will Yablonski and Claire Ward, students whose tragic pasts bear a shocking resemblance to Teddy’s, it becomes chillingly clear that a circling predator has more than one victim in mind.
Joining forces with her trusted partner, medical examiner Maura Isles, Jane is determined to keep these orphans safe from harm. But an unspeakable secret dooms the children’s fate—unless Jane and Maura can finally put an end to an obsessed killer’s twisted quest.