Author Interview: Tess Gerritsen

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It was about five years ago, when I first discovered the author that I have had the privilege to interview and feature here today.
It was in the library, when I decided to pick a random book off the shelf. It was just my luck, as I picked a copy of one of her novels, The Surgeon. I remember reading the synopsis on the back cover just to see if it was something I'd be interested in. I then started reading the first few lines of the first chapter. Then, I found myself reading one chapter after another. It was difficult for me to put the book down. It was undeniable; I was hooked.
Seven books from her popular series and four medical thrillers later, my opinion of her as a great storyteller has not changed. Since then, when someone asks me to recommend titles of thrillers, the first author that comes to mind has always been Tess Gerritsen -- someone who has had a successful career as a physician, and who, I think, is now one of the most compelling authors of our generation.
Her avid readers and fans will be most excited to hear that not only does she have the long-awaited follow up to the Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles series, but also has another very exciting project coming up with TNT! Want to know more about this news? Hear it straight from the author herself.
I am very honored to be given this opportunity to share with you an interview with the international bestselling author, Tess Gerritsen.

1. What prompted you to become a writer?
-- I've been a storyteller since I was a child. I think it's a result of being an avid reader who wanted to tell my own tales, and the first book I wrote was at age seven. Even though I eventually went to medical school, I always knew that I'd be writing novels someday, even if it was only in my spare time.

2. While you were practicing as a physician, did you have a lot of time left to write? If so, how did you manage your time?
-- I had almost no time to write, but I wrote anyway. I wrote while I was on call, at night in the hospital. During a period when I was working 80 hours a week. I wrote late at night when I was home. And after my sons were born, I wrote during their naptimes. A real writer simply finds the time to do it, no matter how busy the schedule is.

3. Do you ever get the dreaded writer's block? If so, how do you overcome through it? Are there any routines or activities that you try to do to get through it?
-- I get it with every book, usually around halfway through the first draft. It's usually because I haven't thought out what happens next, or I've made my characters do something that I instinctively know they wouldn't do. I solve it by setting the work aside for awhile. I take walks, I go for long drives, I lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling. Eventually I manage to come up with just the right plot change to make the story work.

4. Where is your favorite place to write? To read?
-- I write best at my own desk in my home, overlooking the water. My favorite place to read is in bed.

5. What do you enjoy doing aside from writing?
-- I love to play music. I'm a fiddler, and I adore Celtic tunes. I also love to travel -- anywhere new is an adventure for me. And I love to cook and garden!

6. Do you have any advice for writers wanting to get their work published?
-- Keep working at it. If you don't sell your first manuscript, get to work on your second. It took me several unpublished novels before I sold one. Also, read read read. You learn so much just by seeing how other writers -- writers you admire -- told their stories. And work on getting a literary agent. These days, almost no publishers will look at unsolicited manuscripts. You need an agent to get you in the door.

7. You are to be stranded on a deserted island with two companions. If you could choose two fictional characters to accompany you, who would they be?
-- Rhett Butler, because he'd figure out a way to survive. And James Bond, because he'd keep me entertained!

8. If you could pick between Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles,who would you think would be more fun to hang out with during the weekends?
-- Jane would be more fun to hang out with. Maura, I'm afraid, is just too serious and logical to know how to have a good time.

9. Your readers and fans are eagerly anticipating your new novel coming out in June. Can you tell us more about Ice Cold?
-- On a trip to Wyoming, Maura gets stranded on a lonely mountain road and ends up in a deserted village called "Kingdom Come," where she finds abandoned houses. Where did the residents go, and why did they leave meals on tables and pets to starve? The mystery of what happened to the residents of Kingdom Come is a secret that will threaten Maura's life -- and only Jane can save her.

10. What is your message to your readers?
-- I'm here to entertain you. I take that job very seriously, and I hope I do it well! And please, watch "Rizzoli & Isles," the new TV series (based on my books) debuting July 12 on TNT!


  1. Aw, Tess! My favorite <3
    Awesome interview... She doesn't seem to be a person who plays any kind of music! Ha! Great!

  2. I always look forward to one of her books. Thanks for the interview. I know being an author is hard work, but her description of writing at her desk looking out at the water makes me want to try it myself! Really I just need someone to pay me to stay home and read books all a place where I can look out at the water. Is that too much to ask?!?

  3. Great interview, Jillian. Haven't read this author but I'm interested seeing what her books are all about. Love the answer to number seven--- yes, I think I could survive just fine with those two gentlemen too--- and be very well entertained. ;D


  4. I love Tess Gerritsen! My favorite from her is definitely The Surgeon. I like your #7 and 8 questions! Great interview!

  5. @Raila: Thank you! I loved your interview with her as well :) She is definitely my 'thriller' favorite!

    @Heather: So do I! I wish I could have such a nice writing space. Hm.. don't we all? ;)

    @Lesa: Thanks so much. She writes mostly medical thriller/suspense -- very entertaining & clever. I highly recommend her work.

    @maytagger8819: The Surgeon was, and I kind of dislike saying this word... epic. :D Thanks! I liked her answers for #7 & 8 as well!

  6. @naida: Thank you:) And yes, her JaneRizzoli/Maura Isles series is the best.