Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tess Gerritsen Talks About Writing and Rizzoli & Isles

Photo by Henry + Mac
I had the privilege of meeting Tess Gerritsen at The Big Thrill hosted by the Boston Public Library last night. Although the conversations were brief, they were also insightful. Here are some of the highlights.

Rizzoli & Isles Novels vs. Television:

When asked about the differences in television Jane & Maura compared to the books, she said of course they were very different characters. She knew they would be different when she learned Angie Harmon had been cast. An ex model is not the way Jane of the novels is described. But Tess has embraced it and seemed genuinely fine with the fact that her characters have been changed. She did say that at first fans of the novels didn't approve of the characterizations on the television show. However, that was not a problem in the reverse. More and more fans of the television series have become fans of the books, hence her readership has gone up. Luckily there are a lot of people who can easily separate the two, loving them both no matter the differences.

I'm not sure how this came up, but in talking about the show Tess said that neither Jane nor Maura would get married in the television series. She seemed to know this for certain and stated that "the show is about their friendship." If you add a spouse into the mix you change the dynamic of the show.

On Writing:

Tess gave an example of her writing style. She had read a story in the paper about a "dead" woman waking up in the morgue and thought that would make a great plot point, so she wrote it. Then she thought about what would happen next. Well, the medical examiner would have her rushed to the hospital. Then what would happen? Step by step Tess answered that question, not knowing where it would lead. That story was the beginning of The Sinner. When she started it Tess had no idea who the woman was nor how she wound up in the morgue. She found out as she continued writing. She did say that when you write organically like that (no outline, nor complete plot before hand) she has to go back once the first draft is complete. There can be holes in the story, or in the connective tissue that leads from point a to b to c. So she must fix any issues there were with "connecting the dots."

When asked about how much research she does, Tess said she looks for more then just facts and figures. She's looking for the most disturbing information about whatever subject it may be. An example is when she was doing research at NASA. Sure she needed to know how a shuttle operated, but more so what stuck for her was that there is a 1 in 50 chance that something will go horribly wrong in a shuttle launch, and that there is a person who's sole job is to blow the shuttle out of the sky should the launch go so wrong that it's coming back down to Earth. These disturbing details are what make us think and feel, not what button you push to fly the shuttle.

Oh and last but definitely not least, a random question was what was her favorite animal. Tess' favorite animal is a donkey. She used to own four of them.

The event as a whole was okay. There were four authors and they were all very generous with their time both before and after the panel discussion. My only complaint was that said panel discussion was supposed to be the "main event" yet it was very short, not even 45 minutes. With all the questions that were collected I would think they could have gone the full hour or longer. 

Having said that, Tess was very out going and generous with her time. I was glad I got a chance to meet and talk with her.

No comments:

Post a Comment