Readers familiar with the grit and gore of my crime novels may be surprised to discover my secret past … as a romance author. I was first introduced to romances while I was working as a doctor, a high-stress job where, too often, I dealt with loss and grief-stricken families. At the end of the day, I needed to open a book where I’d find both entertainment and a happy ending — and I found both in romance novels. I became hooked on them, sometimes reading half a dozen a week despite my grueling schedule in the hospital.
It’s no surprise that the first novel I wrote was a romance.
In 1987, CALL AFTER MIDNIGHT was bought by Harlequin Intrigue. My editor called to ask: “Do you remember how many people you killed in this story? We had an editorial meeting, and we counted thirteen bodies!” That was a record for Harlequin, but they published the novel anyway — and my career as a novelist was launched.
With that staggering body count, I should have realized that I was destined to be thriller author. But I stayed with the romance genre, eventually selling nine novels in which both love and mystery were intertwined.
One of those early novels was PEGGY SUE GOT MURDERED, published in 1993. It featured a tough-talking female medical examiner (no, not Maura Isles!) whose morgue is suddenly overwhelmed with dead bodies. They appear to be drug OD victims, but it’s a drug no one has ever seen before. Yes, it’s a romance, but it’s also the first book in which I explore forensic pathology and medical examiners. With its multiple murders and big-city corruption, the plot was far too gritty for a romance publisher, so the book was released as a single title by Harper Paperbacks. Eventually, it went out of print.
I went on to write medical and crime thrillers, and my series of novels featuring Detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles was adapted into the hit TV show “Rizzoli & Isles.” When readers started seeking out my earlier romantic suspense novels, my UK publisher thought it was the perfect time to re-release PEGGY SUE GOT MURDERED.
It’s a challenge to update a 20-year-old story for today’s reader, but I had help from a terrific editor at Transworld (UK), who streamlined the book into a tight mystery. He also fixed numerous details that were clearly dated. In the original edition, for instance, my heroine hunts for a phone booth, where she searches the telephone book for a company’s address. In today’s world, that heroine would just pull out her smartphone and find the information online. The editor also suggested a snappy new title: GIRL MISSING.
GIRL MISSING is now available in the US. On sale for the first time in twenty years, this story was written at a time when I was stretching my writing wings and exploring the dark themes that would one day dominate my novels. It offers a glimpse of the thriller writer I would one day become.
About the Author:
Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to a writing career. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D.
While on maternity leave from her work as a physician, she began to write fiction. In 1987, her first novel was published. Call After Midnight, a romantic thriller, was followed by eight more romantic suspense novels. She also wrote a screenplay, “Adrift”, which aired as a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week starring Kate Jackson.
Tess’s first medical thriller, Harvest, was released in hardcover in 1996, and it marked her debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Her suspense novels since then have been: Life Support (1997), Bloodstream (1998), Gravity (1999), The Surgeon (2001), The Apprentice (2002), The Sinner (2003), Body Double (2004), Vanish (2005), The Mephisto Club (2006), The Bone Garden (2007), The Keepsake (2008; UK title: Keeping the Dead), Ice Cold (2010; UK title: The Killing Place), The Silent Girl (2011), and Last To Die (August 2012.) Her books have been published in forty countries, and more than 25 million copies have been sold around the world.
Her books have been top-3 bestsellers in the United States and abroad. She has won both the Nero Wolfe Award (for Vanish) and the Rita Award (for The Surgeon). Critics around the world have praised her novels as “Pulse-pounding fun” (Philadelphia Inquirer), “Scary and brilliant” (Toronto Globe and Mail), and “Polished, riveting prose” (Chicago Tribune). Publisher Weekly has dubbed her the “medical suspense queen”.
Her series of novels featuring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the TNT television series “Rizzoli & Isles” starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.
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