Today I’m delighted to welcome crime writer Kathy Reichs to the CTG blog. Kathy is the best selling and award winning author of the Dr Temperance Brennan series and the Tory Brennan series, and is a producer of the chilling hit TV series Bones. She is also a Professor of Forensic Anthropology and Vice President of the American Academy of Forensic Scientists.
So, to the interview …
Your latest novel – Speaking in Bones – is out this month. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Tempe doesn’t solve every case. And it bothers her that a few nameless dead languish unidentified in her lab. Information on some of these UIP’s, unidentified persons, is available online, and “websleuths” work to match them with MP’s, reported missing persons. At the outset of the story, Tempe is visited by one such amateur detective who believes she’s successfully connected skeletal remains in Tempe’s storage facility to a young woman missing for three years. What seems at first to be an isolated tragedy takes on a more sinister cast as Tempe uncovers two more sets of bones. Still reeling from her mother’s diagnosis and the shock of Andrew Ryan’s potentially life-changing proposal, Tempe tries to solve the murders before the body count climbs further.
In the story, your main character, Dr Tempe Brennan, is approached by an amateur detective who thinks they’ve identified some remains – what was it that sparked the idea for this story?
As usual, the story emerged from the coalescence of different idea particles floating around in my brain. Thousands engage in websleuthing worldwide. I was intrigued by the concept and thought my readers might also find the pursuit interesting. Brown Mountain, located in my home state of North Carolina, is famous for an unexplained phenomenon of floating lights whose origin no one can explain. The Blue Ridge Mountains are home to many unusual and little-known religious groups, some of whom handle poisonous snakes and speak in tongues as part of their worship. I took these disparate bits of knowledge, threw in some old cases, and Speaking in Bones was the result.
Your books always have a great balance of technical fact and fast paced fiction – what’s the secret to achieving this?
I think what gives my books authenticity is that I actually do what it is I’m writing about. I think the fact that I am in the autopsy room, I go to the crimes scene and I work in a full-spectrum forensic lab gives my books a flavor they otherwise wouldn’t have. I think my readers want to learn something. They want to read about the science behind DNA, ballistics, blood splatter pattern analysis. I write for the reader who wants to learn something new and enjoy a good old -fashioned murder mystery at the same time. The key to the science? Keep it short, entertaining, and jargon free.
Could you tell us a bit about your writing process – do you plot the story out in advance or jump right in and see where it takes you?
My writing days begin in the morning and end in the evening. If I am not inspired, I write anyway. I start with a chapter by chapter outline of the story, then write in a linear fashion moving from beginning to end. I have the plot twists and ending in mind. But if I stumble upon a great idea midstream, in it goes.
What advice would you give a writer aspiring to publication?
Write every day. Or every week. Perhaps every dawn. Whatever time block you have available. Don’t accept writer’s block. If what you are writing is disappointing, at the end of the day you can delete it. Write every chance you get, no matter what.
And finally, what does the rest of 2015 have in store for you?
I’m actually working on an off-series novel. Brand new, not Temperance Brennan. New characters, setting, and premise. No more spoilers!
A huge thank you to Kathy Reichs for stopping by the CTG blog today and answering our questions.
Kathy’s latest book – SPEAKING IN BONES – is out this week. Here’s the blurb: “When forensic anthropologist Dr Tempe Brennan is approached by amateur detective Hazel ‘Lucky’ Strike, at first she is inclined to dismiss the woman’s claims that she’s matched a previously unidentified set of remains with a name. But as the words of a terrified young woman echo round her office from an audio recorder found near where the bones were discovered, something about the story won’t let Tempe go. As Tempe investigates further she finds herself involved in a case more complicated and horrifying than she could ever have imagined.”
To find out more, hop on over to her website at www.kathyreichs.com and be sure to follow her on Twitter @KathyReichs