Book Nerd Interview
Kathy Reichs’s first novel Déjà Dead catapulted her to fame when it became a New York Times bestseller and won the 1997 Ellis Award for Best First Novel. Her other Temperance Brennan novels include Death du Jour, Deadly Décisions, Fatal Voyage, Grave Secrets, Bare Bones, Monday Mourning, Cross Bones, Break No Bones, Bones to Ashes, Devil Bones, and 206 Bones, Spider Bones (August, 2010). Dr. Reichs is a producer of the hit Fox TV series, Bones, which is based on her work and her novels.
From teaching FBI agents how to detect and recover human remains, to separating and identifying commingled body parts in her Montreal lab, as a forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs has brought her own dramatic work experience to her mesmerizing forensic thrillers. For years she consulted to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina, and continues to do so for the Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale for the province of Québec. Dr. Reichs has travelled to Rwanda to testify at the UN Tribunal on Genocide, and helped exhume a mass grave in Guatemala. As part of her work at JPAC (Formerly CILHI) she aided in the identification of war dead from World War II, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Dr. Reichs also assisted with identifying remains found at ground zero of the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Dr. Reichs is one of only eighty-two forensic anthropologists ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. She served on the Board of Directors and as Vice President of both the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, and is currently a member of the National Police Services Advisory Council in Canada. She is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.
Dr. Reichs is a native of Chicago, where she received her Ph.D. at Northwestern. She now divides her time between Charlotte, NC and Montreal, Québec.
What fiction most influenced your childhood, and what effect did those stories have on your writing?
I was a Nancy Drew fanatic growing up. It’d surprise no one who knew me then that I write mystery novels today. Although, to be frank, I’ve never thought of myself primarily as a writer. Even today. First and foremost, I identify with my profession as a forensic anthropologist. And in childhood, everyone else would’ve pegged me as a future scientist, too.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Curious. Passionate. Snarky.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a beach fanatic. One of the things I love most about the Virals series is the setting of Charleston, SC. I have a little place on one of the barrier islands in the area, and I try to get down there as often as I can. Tory gives me the perfect excuse to explore the Lowcountry. I also read constantly, enjoy traveling, and own a “Potcake” dog named Turk that I adopted in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
The greatest thing I learned in school was how to keep an open mind when confronted with a novel problem. In my line of work, not everything is black and white, and it’s often difficult to tell what happened to a person I’ve been tasked with identifying. Therefore, it’s exceedingly important that I consider all possibilities before reaching a conclusion. Oftentimes I’m called to testify in court, and it’s crucial that I’ve both carefully reviewed the evidence and that I’ve avoided jumping to any unfounded conclusions.
For those who are unfamiliar with Seizure: A Virals Novel, how would you introduce it?
Seizure is the second book in the Virals series, taking place a few months after the action in Virals ends. Tory and her friends are confronted with a new problem: separation. The Loggerhead Institute has hit hard financial times and is set to shut down, with Morris Island and Loggerhead Island to be put up for sale to developers. The Virals face the prospect of their families moving to different areas of the country. This is a terrifying prospect, as their powers are unique and still evolving, and the pack doesn’t want to be splintered. In the midst of this crisis Tory learns of an old pirate legend regarding the female pirate Anne Bonny, and of the treasure she hid somewhere in the Charleston area. Without other options, the Virals become determined to find it, but they aren’t the only ones looking, and in this race the stakes could be their lives.
Aside from Tory, which of your characters do you feel has grown the most?
I’d have to say Kit, Tory’s father. At the beginning of Virals, he’s still processing that he even has a daughter. As we move into the second book you see that Kit is trying to think and act like a parent, even if it doesn’t come naturally. It’s a challenge for Kit that forces him into some very hard decisions. Ben, Hi and Shelton have grown as well, each becoming slightly more confident with their newfound abilities. But there is still a long way to go, and they are a long way from fully understanding their extraordinary capabilities.
If you could introduce Tory to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I think it might be interesting to hear a conversation between Tory and Katniss Everdeen. They are of a similar age, and neither one backs down from a challenge, even as they are forced into situations beyond their control. Both seem to thrive in dangerous situations while not losing their core identities. Frankly, I think they’d get along fantastically.
What was your inspiration for the series?
I co-write the Virals series with my son, Brendan Reichs, who actually came up with the idea. Upon returning to North Carolina with my dog Turk, he promptly fell sick with parvovirus. I’d never heard of it, but quickly learned how deadly an illness it can be for a puppy. Thankfully, Turk pulled through. We’d frantically tried to learn everything we could about the virus when he was sick, and the idea from the series sprang from there. What if humans could contract parvovirus? The rest is history.
You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your teen readers. What would it be?
Spend time thinking about what you actually want to do for a career rather than simply floating through high school and college with no clear direction. The sooner you identify your most passionate interests, the sooner you can start working toward them, and can identify a career that will be personally fulfilling. Heavy stuff, I know, but I see too many young college students who have never really asked themselves the question: what am I most interested in, and how can I find a way to do it for a living? Also, don’t speed. It’s not worth it.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m currently working on two projects. In the Temperance Brennan series, Bones Are Forever will release this summer. Tempe will be visiting a diamond mine in Yellowknife, in the far north of Canada, and things get a little out of hand. In the Virals series, the third book, Code, will release in Spring 2013. As Tory and her pack continue to deal with their ever-changing abilities, they unearth something that sucks them into a deadly game. Forced to dance to the tune of a madman, the Virals must rush around Charleston to prevent a deadly cataclysm. And others are beginning to wonder about the four island kids with such amazing skills.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Write. All the time. Every day. Don’t accept writer’s block. Don’t insist that a story be perfectly mapped before it’s begun. Write write write. A page, a chapter, even just a good paragraph. In my experience the first step to perfecting is doing, even if it starts out rough.
What question are you never asked in interviews but wish you were?
Would I like to be on The Colbert Report? You betcha!
What was a time in your life when you were really scared?
I once helped to exhume a mass grave in Guatemala, the events of which become the basis for my Temperance Brennan novel, Grave Secrets. We were out in the middle of the Central American jungle, surrounded by villagers, former militants, and army personnel, several of whom could possibly have been responsible for the massacre we were investigating. It was a tense environment where I never felt complete safe. And, of course, what we found was heartbreaking.
Favorite places to travel?
The Caribbean. Charleston. Greece. Beach nut, remember?
What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?
Though I’ve only seen a few episodes, I’m starting the think Game of Thrones might be brilliant. Gritty. Great acting. I also like Modern Family and Mad Men. Oh, did I mention Bones and Finder? Those are the two greatest shows on TV, of course!
Who was your first boyfriend?
Steve. I wore his ring on a chain around my neck. South St. Paul, Minnesota. Age: 15.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
Who drank the last Diet Coke?
What’s the worst job you’ve had?
I scraped plates in a cafeteria during freshman year of college. Lasted three days.
If I came to your house and looked in your closet/attic/basement, what’s the one thing that would surprise me the most?
I have a full human skeleton in my attic. That might jump out at you.
Where can your readers stalk you?
Kathyreichs.com or ViralsTheSeries.com. Stalk away!
The second novel in the Virals trilogy from #1 bestselling author and inspiration for the TV series Bones - Kathy Reichs!
Ever since Tory Brennan and her friends rescued Cooper, a kidnapped wolf pup with a rare strain of canine parvovirus, they've turned from regular kids into a crime-solving pack! But now the very place that brought them together - the Loggerhead Island Research Institute - is out of funding and will have to shut down. That is, unless the Virals can figure out a way to save it!
So when Tory learns of an old Charleston legend about a famous she-pirate, Anne Bonney, whose fortune was never found, she can't believe her luck - buried treasure is exactly what she needs to save the Institute on Loggerhead! Trouble is, she and her friends aren't the only ones looking for it. And this time, the Virals' special powers may not be enough to dig them out of trouble . . .
Seizure picks up a few months following the end of book 1 in the Virals Novel. Since Tory and her friends were infected, they are now finally getting used to their new “powers”. Even with these super powers at their disposal, it doesn’t seem to keep them out of trouble. After learning the closure of the laboratory that gave them their powers, and the island it resides on being sold, Tory plans on saving the island along with the animals that lives on it. It is such an unfeasible plan that not even her “pack” can picture it happening.
Tory plans on uncovering a treasure hidden by a famous female pirate named Anne Bonney. She is certain that with their powers they are able to locate it and use its value to buy the island and keep things the way it is. Simple plan, right? Nope! Along the way, the pack encounters pirate booby traps, double-crossing a pawnbroker, stealing maps, and countless clues they have to decode.
The action between the pages is enough to keep the reader engaged. The transition from teenagers in a science experiment mishap to pirates is brilliantly executed. Once the very determined Tory sets her mind to something, she will not give up. Along with the boys in the pack, who are such comical supporting characters, they are a recipe for attracting adventure.
Kathy & Brendan has given the world one of the most inventive YA fiction novels out there. They radiantly make an improbable plot of wolf-like teenagers going after a hidden treasure seem so plausible. The way they develops their characters is plain genius. The characters are so unique, fascinating, and seems like super heroes from comic books, but each still have qualities that readers can relate to. The story set forth in Seizure is just as good as Virals, if not better. Imagine Indiana Jones and Captain Jack Sparrow together on a mission...that is exactly what you will find in Seizure.
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