Tess Gerritsen, author of The Silent Girl the latest in the Rizzoli and Isles series, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

by |June 9, 2011

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Tess Gerritsen

author of The Silent Girl  the latest in the Rizzoli & Isles series

Ten Terrifying Questions


1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in San Diego, California (USA) and raised in a middle-class suburb where I was the only child of Asian descent in my school

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

When I was twelve, I wanted to be a writer. When I was eighteen, I wanted to be a writer. When I was thirty, I wanted to be a writer. Because I’ve always been a daydreamer, and I couldn’t imagine a better job than to get paid for daydreaming.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That life would be over at age thirty

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

1. The Nancy Drew mystery series, because it made me realize that a girl could do everything a boy could — even drive a car and take down bad guys!

2. Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the original black and white horror flick. Because it haunted me all through my childhood and made me realize that people are not always who they seem.

3. JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Because it taught me that there are no limits to where your imagination will take you

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

The raw materials are cheap. Paper, pen, and your brain

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

THE SILENT GIRL is part of my “Rizzoli & Isles” crime series, starring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles. When a woman’s slashed body is found in Boston’s Chinatown, the only clues are stray hairs found on the clothing — hairs that turn out to belong to an Asian monkey species.

The key to solving the mystery lies with the ancient Chinese legend of the Monkey King, a mythical creature born from stone to become a warrior. Is it this very creature who is responsible for deaths in Chinatown?

(BBGuru: Publisher’s synopsis –

It’s gory. It’s gripping. It’s Gerritsen. The new heart-stopping Rizzoli & Isles bestseller.

When a severed hand, clutching a gun, is found in a Chinatown alley in downtown Boston, detective Jane Rizzoli climbs to the adjacent roof-top and finds the hand’s owner: a red-haired woman whose throat has been slashed so deeply the head is nearly severed. She is dressed all in black, and the only clues to her identity are a throwaway cell phone and a scrawled address of a long-shuttered restaurant.

With its wary immigrant population, Chinatown is a closed neighbourhood of long-held secrets – and nowhere is this more obvious than when Jane meets Iris Fang. Strikingly beautiful, her long black hair streaked with grey, she is a renowned martial arts master. Yet, despite being skilled in swordplay, neither she nor her strangely aloof daughter, Willow, will admit any knowledge of the rooftop murder. And pathologist Dr Maura Isles has determined that the murder weapon was a sword crafted of ancient metal from China.

It soon becomes clear that an ancient evil is stirring in Chinatown – an evil that has killed before, and will kill again – unless Jane and Iris can join forces, and defeat it …  Click here to visit Booktopia’s Tess Gerritsen author page)

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

An appreciation of Chinese folk tales and a better understanding of what it means to be of Asian descent in a land where you are always considered the alien.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Stephen King. Because he knows what scares us, and he goes to those dark places

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

To tell the stories I want to tell. It doesn’t sound ambitious, but it’s hard, hard work

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Wait to hear the voice of your narrator. Wait until that voice is so real, you know its every inflection. When that character is vivid enough to seem real, then you’re ready to start writing

Tess, thank you for playing.

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About the Contributor

John Purcell (aka Natasha Walker) is the author of The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy published by Random House Australia. The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings reached the top ten on the Australian fiction charts and Natasha/John was the tenth highest selling Australian novelist and third highest selling Australian debut author in 2012. The trilogy has since sold over 50,000 copies in print and ebook and has been translated into French, Korean and Polish. John has worked in the book industry for over twenty-five years. While still in his twenties he opened John’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookshop in Mosman in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Now he is the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au.

Follow John: Twitter Website


  • May 5, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Hello! I have read this interview with great interest. The answer I like most is about Tess’s plans for future. I like that she always knew whom she wants to become and pursued her dream without doubts and hesitation. I think we all should be as confident as she is in order to achieve success.

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