woensdag 7 januari 2009

Q & A with Meg Gardiner

We interview Meg Gardiner, author of the new Jo Beckett series.

Q: What makes Jo Beckett different from other fictional forensic detectives?
Jo is a forensic psychiatrist. She performs psychological autopsies in cases of equivocal death. When the authorities can't determine why somebody has died, Jo investigates to determine whether the death was natural, accidental, suicide, or homicide. Her work begins when the work of police, criminalists, and medical examiners ends.

And as far as I know, she's the only fictional forensic detective who's a rock climber. And the only one who has chased a monkey around her house with a samurai sword.

Q: What are your thoughts on the popularity of the forensic detectives these days?
I think it's great. I'm pleased that readers are so interested in the ways science and medicine intersect with the law. (I'm a former lawyer.) But forensic detectives are only as compelling as the stories they're part of -- authors have to be able to tell thrilling tales.

Q: What would a soundtrack to your novels sound like?
When you asked me this question, I put it to my readers. They suggested a lot of tunes that jibe with my own choices: Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Springsteen, the Dixie Chicks, and Patsy Cline, along with REM and Sheryl Crow. My stories move fast, and the soundtrack would have to have an edge. I'd add some country tunes to choke people up (Patty Loveless comes to mind) and some thundering Rachmaninoff and Beethoven to round it out. And the Foo Fighters. Lots of Foo Fighters.

Q: Has your writing changed much since the first novel?
It's become leaner -- more stripped down, so the plot can move faster without sacrificing emotion or complexity.

Q: Do you do a lot of research?
Writing about a forensic psychiatrist whose love interest is an Air National Guard pararescueman -- yes, lots. The only way to get the characters and the story right is to talk to real shrinks and PJs about their jobs and lives. But that kind of research is both enlightening and rewarding. It's fascinating to find out how a forensic psychiatrist conducts a psychological autopsy, or how the Air National Guard prepares for a mountain rescue. And it makes me grateful to know there are professionals out there doing these jobs.

Q: What's next for you and Jo?
Jo will be back in the summer of 2009, in a story about a soldier of fortune who disappears after suffering short term memory loss. Jo must find and stop him before he goes on a killing spree.

Q: Which crime writers do you like?
Wow, it's tough to choose from so many wonderful authors. Elmore Leonard, James Lee Burke, Carl Hiaasen, Tess Gerritsen, Jeffery Deaver, Sue Grafton, Janet Evanovich, Barry Eisler, Lee Child... and of course, Raymond Chandler.

Q: What does the future of forensic science / law enforcement look like in your opinion?
There will be ever-present tension between the desire of the authorities to collect DNA, data, and other "identity" evidence about all of us, and the need to protect privacy and civil liberties.

Q: What question should be asked every writer we interview and what would be your answer to it?
What's the best thing about writing novels? I'd say it's the thrill of creating entire worlds and knowing that readers willingly enter and stay there, spellbound, until the end of the story.