Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Local News

October 15, 2013

True crime inspires best-selling novelist

BROOKVILLE – How the heck did renowned Tess Gerritsen wind up in Brookville Oct. 10? It turns out the Maine resident has a soft spot in her heart for libraries.

The witty woman said she spent her childhood at the San Diego Public Library. “That’s where I met all my heroes,” from Nancy Drew to Bilbo Baggins. Book tours usually take her to big cities, but a year ago, Gerritsen received an e-mail invite from a Bartholomew County librarian. The writer wanted to speak at a few more libraries to make the trip worthwhile and somehow that ballooned into 23 Hoosier visits. “I specifically said I wanted to go to smaller towns … I know they often get ignored by book tours.”

She was delighted to be a guest of the Franklin County Public Library District in “a beautiful part of the state.”

“I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was 7,” Gerritsen confessed. “My father told me it was no way to make a living.” After graduating from Stanford University and the University of California at San Francisco medical school, she was a physician for five years. While on maternity leave, she began the 1987 romantic thriller “Call After Midnight.” “When my son was sleeping, I’d write another chapter.”

“Why do I write such scary stuff?” she pondered. Her mother, a Chinese immigrant who didn’t understand English very well, gets the blame. “She took me to every scary movie .... I grew up thinking horror films were the height of entertainment.”

As a joke, the first thing novelist Stephen King said to her was what everyone asks: “‘Where do you get your ideas?’” Newspapers was her answer. She read an article in the Boston Globe about a woman found dead in a bathtub next to empty pill bottles. The body was zipped into a body bag, but she awoke a few hours later.

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