A near disaster on the Russian space station Mir inspired her favorite book, 1999’s “Gravity” (not to be confused with the current movie). After doing extensive online research and voracious reading on astronauts, the novelist spent a week at Johnson Space Cneter and another at Cape Canaveral. “I was looking for emotional details, things that freak me out.”
On a book tour, a woman reported she was not interested in reading about space. She requested a novel about “‘serial killers and twisted sex.’ I asked her, ‘What do you do for a living?’” The answer was third-grade teacher. Gerritsen learned women like serial killer books, but only if the victims are women. “We identify with victims in these stories.”
A book series about Boston detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Dr. Maura Isles was born. In the first book, 2001’s “The Surgeon,” Rizzoli was supposed to be killed, but Gerritsen couldn’t bear to do it. “I wondered, ‘What happens to you next? Do you ever get happy? Do you ever fall in love?’” In the second book, 2002’s “The Apprentice, Isles was introduced and she’s Gerritsen’s alter ego. “Maura and I both believe in logic. We’re both doctors… we were both anthropological majors in college … we both drink the same wine … but I’ve never had an affair with a priest!” she pointed out to laughter.
“I have sold the rights to almost all my books,” but TV shows and movies never panned out, until six years ago, when a TV producer became enthralled with the duo. Actresses Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander “don’t look like my characters. They’re far more beautiful and fashionable.” The TNT show “Rizzoli and Isles” is going into its fifth season and seen by an average of 8 milion viewers weekly.