Literary Birthday – 12 June – Tess Gerritsen

Happy Birthday, Tess Gerritsen, born 12 June 1953.


  1. I was a storyteller before I became a doctor. I wrote my first ‘book’ when I was seven years old! But my very practical Chinese-American father convinced me that I’d never be able to support myself in the arts, and talked me into going to medical school instead. I worked as a doctor for about five years.
  2. Like most female mystery authors I know, I grew up reading and loving the Nancy Drew mystery series. I think it’s because she was a role model for every girl who dreamed of growing up independent, intelligent, and competent.
  3. I do not just churn out these stories. I labour hard over each and every one. I spend many sleepless nights, worrying whether I can pull my characters out of the fire.
  4. I wish I could be more of a plotter! It would make writing the books so much easier
  5. I figure, if I’m surprised by the twists and turns, then maybe my readers will be surprised as well.
  6. pace doesn’t have anything to do with violence or bloodshed. It has to do with a sense of something not being right. I like the feeling of being off-balance.
  7. I think that the best mysteries are when the character has an emotional reason to want the case to be solved.
  8. I should confess that I’m a reluctant adopter of technology. I love the plain old-fashioned book. I still write my first drafts with pen and paper. But I do recognise the times when technology makes our lives easier, and I’m all for making our lives easier.
  9. I have a home office devoted just to my work, with bookshelves lined with medical and forensic textbooks and a huge desk on which I can spread all my references and various bits of paper. I work with pen and paper for the first draft — I simply cannot compose fiction on a computer. I try to get started writing by 9:30, and work until I get four pages done. I don’t always manage the quota, unfortunately, and many days are filled with pure frustration.
  10. Writing is not easy for me. The more successful I become, in fact, the harder it seems to get, because I feel every critic and reader in the world is looking over my shoulder and shaking their heads about how bad that last sentence turned out. But deadlines help propel me forward, and there are days when I’ll read what I wrote the day before and will feel quite satisfied.

READ: Tess Gerritsen’s Writing Process

Tess Gerritsen is a Chinese-American novelist. Her books have been translated into 31 languages, and more than 30 million copies have been sold around the world. Her first eight novels were romantic thrillers written for Harlequin Intrigue and Harper Paperbacks. Her first medical thriller, Harvest, appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. Her Rizzoli & Isles series has been adapted for television. She is also a retired physician.

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 12th June 2013