We hadden eerder al het genoegen om persoonlijk kennis te mogen maken met de hartelijkheid van Tess Gerritsen maar nu kreeg onze Jeanine ook nog eens de gelegenheid om met haar te babbelen over o.a. haar nieuwste Rizzoli&Isles ‘Ik heb een geheim’. Hoe gezellig dat werd kun je hier lezen, veel plezier!
Where did you get the inspiration for this book?
While on holiday in Italy, I visited art museums and saw numerous paintings by masters of medieval art. Many of these paintings had religious themes, with the same characters appearing again and again: the Madonna and child, as well as numerous saints. I was growing tired of seeing the same characters and themes, until I read a book called HOW TO READ A PAINTING by Patrick De Rynck. It taught me the symbolism of religious paintings, and I learned about the clues that painters used. If you see a woman holding a palm leaf, you know that she died a martyr, and you can recognize the saints by certain symbols. Mary Magdalene is usually portrayed with an ointment pot. St. Sebastian is the figure shot with arrows. St. Catherine of Siena is often shown standing with the broken wheel on which she was tortured. I became fascinated by how symbols tell stories, and I wondered: what if a killer did the same thing at crime scenes? What if he left symbols as a message to someone?
When you’ve got an idea for a new story, how do you continue? Do you just start writing what comes to mind or do you first make some kind of plan with specific details?
If I have an exciting idea, I usually can’t wait to start writing, and I’ll just begin. I may have a very vague idea of where the story will go, but nothing is planned out in detail. My first draft is very much an exploration, and sometimes I don’t know who the killer is until more than halfway through the story. I have tried plotting out things ahead of time, but those plans never worked out. The most interesting twists usually come to me while I’m in the middle of writing the book.
How do you create the new characters in your books? Do you use your own experiences to create them?
The best characters are the ones who almost create themselves, without my thinking too hard about them. Usually, they come to me through their voices. I can hear them speak to me, and I let them show me the way. Often, they reveal themselves by what they say and do, and I get to know them while writing the first draft. Sometimes they’re inspired by people I’ve met. Jane Rizzoli, for instance, was inspired by the female police officers I’ve spoken to, women who must be smarter and tougher than the men, just to gain respect. The character of the killer in THE SURGEON was someone who just started speaking to me, and I never had to think much about who he was. I never do biographical sketches, and I don’t bother to come up with trivial facts about their lives ahead of time. Those details just pop up during the writing of the book.
Personally I like Jane’s husband Gabriel Dean, the FBI Agent. Have you thought about writing a book (a standalone) about him?
No, I haven’t. It sounds like an interesting idea!
Which kind of books do you read yourself? And do you have a favorite author?
I like to read nonfiction, especially books about history, science, and archaeology. Right now, I have two nonfiction books on my night stand, one about the effect of music on our brains, and the other about a botanist obsessed with exotic plants. My favorite author is Michael Pollan, who writes non-fiction about cooking, food, and where it comes from.
What’s on your bucket list that you really want to do soon?
I’d love to live in Italy for a year. I’d love to learn more foreign languages. And there are many destinations in the world I would like to travel to, if only I could find the time.
You had an cameo in the series’ final season of Rizzoli and Isles on tv. What was it like?
It was a fun experience! They wrote a really easy part for me — I played myself, meeting my characters at a mystery writers conference. For a day, I got to pretend I was a Hollywood actor, complete with my own trailer, costume fittings, and getting my makeup and hair done. I learned how hard actors work. It’s tiring just shooting even a very short scene because it must be shot again and again to get various camera angles. And I was so nervous that I’d mess up my lines!
If you knew that all life on earth would end on January the first, how would you spend your last days?
With my family, playing with my granddaughters. In the end, family is what really matters to me.
Dear Tess, thank you so much for this interview! Have a nice time in The Netherlands and in Belgium and good luck with your new book!
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