24 July, 2019

#Interview with Tess Gerritsen, #Author of The Shape of Night

About the Author:
Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to a writing career. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D.

While on maternity leave from her work as a physician, she began to write fiction. In 1987, her first novel was published. Call After Midnight, a romantic thriller, was followed by eight more romantic suspense novels. She also wrote a screenplay, “Adrift”, which aired as a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week starring Kate Jackson.

Tess’s first medical thriller, Harvest, was released in hardcover in 1996, and it marked her debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Her books have been published in forty countries, and more than 30 million copies have been sold around the world.

Her books have been top-3 bestsellers in the United States and number one bestsellers abroad. She has won both the Nero Wolfe Award (for Vanish) and the Rita Award (for The Surgeon). Critics around the world have praised her novels as “Pulse-pounding fun” (Philadelphia Inquirer), “Scary and brilliant” (Toronto Globe and Mail), and “Polished, riveting prose” (Chicago Tribune). Publisher Weekly has dubbed her the “medical suspense queen”.

Now retired from medicine, she writes full time. She lives in Maine.


Please tell the readers a bit about your upcoming release, ‘The Shape of Night’.

A troubled young woman named Ava flees Boston and rents a seaside mansion on the coast of Maine.  Eerie sounds and a glimpse of a man in her turret makes her realize the house is haunted by the ghost of Jeremiah Brodie, a sea captain who has been dead a hundred fifty years.  Rather than being frightened, Ava is drawn to him, and soon she eagerly welcomes the visits of her ghostly lover.  Then she learns that every woman who has lived in the house has also died in the house.  Is Capt. Brodie responsible, or is the killer very much alive and still breathing?

Why did you choose Maine as the backdrop of the novel and how does it compliment the plot?

I live in Maine, which is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  With our rocky seacoast and our dense forests, it truly is a wild and sometimes lonely place.  It’s also rumored to be one of the most haunted places in the country.  It seemed the perfect place for a ghost story. 

How is writing core mystery different from writing something like ‘The Shape of Night’ which has paranormal elements entwined?

Because I’m not a believer in the paranormal, I wanted the haunting to be a matter of interpretation.  Is Captain Brodie real or is he all in Ava’s head?  This is a murder mystery that may -- or may not -- involve a ghost.  By the end of the book, some readers may still not be certain.  I want them to think of this story as a prism in which it’s possible to glimpse many angles and reflections, any of which may be true.  

Tell us a bit about Ava Collette. Did she inherit any of your personal quirks?

Her love of good food, her enjoyment of cooking, and a fondness for wine are certainly drawn from my own life.  My father was part-owner of a restaurant and he was a fabulous cook.  He inspired me to make every meal count.

Do your characters drive the plot or does the plot drive the characters?

In this story, the character (Ava) drove the plot.  Her sense of shame is what really haunts her in this story.  While writing it, I wondered: what could she have possibly done that made her isolate herself?  Why does the ghost come to her in the punishing form he does?  It is all about Ava’s guilt and self-judgment.

Which bit of the book did you find hard to write, and which is your favourite scene?

The erotic scenes were the hardest.  They were difficult to write because of the manner in which Ava draws pleasure.  The secret that haunts her leads her to seek both release and pain.

The Rizzoli & Isles Series is quite popular, including the TV series. How difficult is it, to move out of the comfort zone that comes with writing a series like that, to write something else?

Very difficult, although I started my career writing romantic suspense so this book feels like coming home to the genre I loved first.  My crime readers have come to expect a police procedural from me so they may be a bit startled, but there is a crime involved in this story.  Instead of a story about detectives, SHAPE OF NIGHT has a heroine unlike any I’ve created before.  And it explores an emotion seldom described in novels: shame, and its poisonous effects on both your waking and your sleeping mind. 

Who are your favorite authors to read?

I read across the board, from Lisa Gardner and Lisa Unger to Stephen King and Sandra Brown.  The only genre I tend to avoid is sports.

What are you working on now? And what can your readers look forward to?

I’m in the early stages of a novel about a female retired spy.  My hometown seems to have collected a number of retired CIA personnel and I wondered: what if one of them was called back into the field?  How would it feel to be back in the action when you’re not moving as fast as you used to?

About the Book:
A woman trying to outrun her past is drawn to a quiet coastal town in Maine–and to a string of unsolved murders–in this haunting tale of romantic suspense from New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen.

Ava Collette is punishing herself for an unspeakable tragedy. So she flees Boston and rents an old home named Brodie’s Watch on a remote coastal peninsula of Maine, hoping to work on a cookbook inspired by New England cuisine that she’s been trying to finish for months. She immediately feels at peace in the isolated house–until she starts to hear strange noises.

Rumor has it that a sea captain named Brodie has haunted the house for decades. Then, one night, Ava is awakened to find herself face to face with an apparition who looks–and feels–all too real. Meanwhile, there’s been a series of accidental deaths nearby that don’t add up. And as Ava starts to check into the previous renter’s mysterious disappearance, she starts to realize that there’s a disturbing secret some in town are desperate to keep hidden.

Soon all of Ava’s waking hours are consumed by her investigation, and her nights are ignited by Captain Brodie’s ghostly visits. But even as she questions her own sanity, she knows she must uncover the truth before a killer strikes again.

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