Quotes by: Tess Gerritsen
June 12, 1953 |
San Diego, California, United States
||Author, medical doctor
||Stanford University, University of California, San Francisco
I was an anthropology major in college, and I've had a lifelong fascination with Egyptology, mummies, and all sorts of bizarre cultural practices.
Fans are always asking me where I get my ideas from. The answer is that I'm very curious, and I get inspiration from everywhere. I read the newspapers voraciously, so I know what's going on in real crime. I pay attention to the strange stories people tell me, and I also read a lot of scientific and forensic journals.
Medicine is probably one of the best backgrounds for a writer to find stories. I always think cops and docs have the best background because we see so much of human behavior, such a range of human emotions.
Because I never plan anything out ahead of time, I'm always in the process of learning about my characters. Without a biographical sketch to guide me, I discover things about my heroines as the stories unfold. Only in 'Body Double' did I discover that Maura's mother was a serial killer.
I have hidden my race for 22 books. I have hidden behind my married name, which is very Caucasian, because I didn't feel safe coming out with it. I didn't feel that the market would really accept me. I think I felt it's time to start bringing in an Asian-American point of view.
I have minor characters who are Asian-American, and I've been using them throughout my career, but they've never taken center stage, they've never been really powerful, they've never expressed some of the experiences I had growing up in the U.S. Johnny Tam is the first one.
I raised two sons, and I know that even though they're bigger and stronger than I am, they're still little boys inside. They still cry, they still hurt. So whenever I write a male character, no matter how 'heroic' he may be, I think of my sons. And I remember that every man was once a little boy.
I organise jam sessions every month. We have an open session, so everyone knows about it, and we can get as many as 30 people showing up at the house. Somebody will play a tune, and everyone will pick up on it. My best friends are all musicians.
My father said writing was a nice hobby. He strongly encouraged my brother and me to become doctors.
While the TV show 'Rizzoli & Isles' may have been inspired by my books, show runner Janet Tamaro has total control over where the TV characters go from there. As Janet once put it, I'm the birth mother, but she's the mother who adopted them, and now that Jane and Maura are living in her house, they have to do what she tells them to do.
I shy away from showing cruelty on the page. A lot of the violence in my books actually happens off stage. The police come on to the scene after the event has occurred.
I was a writer first, and knew I'd be a storyteller at age seven. But since my parents are very practical, they urged me to go into a profession that would be far more secure, so I went to medical school.
I think what medical training does is it gives you the language, the tools to look up facts. I think medical training gives you a sense of how to approach a problem, how to look at symptoms and go down the list of what it might be.
Throughout most of my life, I've tried to downplay my Chinese heritage because I wanted so much to be an American. I was the only Asian kid in my elementary school, and I longed to be like everyone else. I insisted on American food; I was embarrassed by my mother's poor English.
The hunting of monsters is not for the faint of heart. Nor is it for those who feel bound by such trivial doctrines as law or national borders.
My brother often complains to me about the 'angry Asian male' in the United States. As a female, I haven't encountered this, but Asian-American men are angry. They're angry because, for so many years, they've been neglected as sex symbols. Asian women have it much easier, I think; we're accepted into various circles.
In China, the dead are not forgotten - my relatives cheerfully pointed out all the niches of deceased friends and family, as if gesturing at the homes of the living.
My dad's cooking was magic in the kitchen. But eventually over the years, his personality changed and his ability to remember recipes failed. He became paranoid and thought people were stealing from him, when often he was just misplacing things.
Since my romance novels had all been thrillers as well, it wasn't such a leap for me to move into the straight thriller genre. The most difficult part, I think, was being accepted as a thriller writer. Once you've written romance, unfortunately, critics will never stop calling you a 'former romance author.'
Alzheimer's is literally killing us, and the only way to fight this 'crime' is through a groundswell of people who continue to raise their voices and funds to ensure it gets the attention it deserves.
'Ice Cold' is the eighth in my 'Rizzoli and Isles' thriller series. It was inspired by a true occurrence in the 1960s, now known as the 'Dugway Incident,' in which 6,000 sheep mysteriously died overnight in a remote area of Utah. I thought, 'What if it happened instead to people? What if the inhabitants of an entire village vanished overnight?'
I think that, for physicians who want to become writers, they have the material, the smarts, they have the logic, they know the stories; it's just a matter of being able to connect with their emotional sides - that's the key to writing good fiction.
Mom and I often talked about the trip we'd someday take together to the 'city of eternal spring' where she was born. In Kunming, she said, the fruits are sweeter, the mountains look like Chinese paintings, and the weather is always perfect.
In 'Last to Die,' three children living in different cities are the only survivors when their families are slaughtered. Two years later, their foster families are murdered, and these three orphans are once again the only survivors.