Paging Dr. Gerritsen…

October 2010

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By Amber Cronin

angietessExactly how does a novelist become a TV goddess?

A producer in Hollywood read all the books, bought the character rights, and Rizzoli & Isles [TNT Monday nights 10 EST] went into production. I don’t have anything to do with the project creatively…They do call me with questions from time to time.

Does every episode spring from your books?

No. Only the pilot came directly from The Apprentice. I never know what each episode’s going to bring, so I’m just as surprised as everyone else by every story!

Is it strange to have your characters take over and begin lives of their own on the small screen?

It’s been kind of a fantasy…listening to words I’ve written coming out of these characters’ mouths [Maura Isles, played by Sasha Alexander, and Jane Rizzoli, played by Angie Harmon].

The best part of watching R&I is knowing these women come
from my imagination. I love hearing the names of characters with whom I’ve lived for the past ten years…I know
what a privilege it is.

What are some specific personality differences between the television characters and the characters from your book?

The personality of Jane [Rizzoli] is very similar between the books and the television show, even if Angie Harmon is far more attractive than my fictional Jane.

The character of Maura [Isles] has been altered quite a bit. The television Maura is much more of a fashionista and also a sunnier and more optimistic personality than the dark and gloomy Maura of my books.

Did you always want to be a writer, or was it a talent you stumbled upon?

I was a writer from the time I was about seven years old, and I went to med school because I was [also] interested in science [she has a degree from UC–San Francisco in internal medicine]. When I went on maternity leave, I had time to pick up writing again.

Do you use your own experiences as a doctor?

The way a doctor thinks and approaches things is taken directly from my experience, but I’m not a forensic pathologist, so I do have to hit the books from time to time.

How did your writing morph from romantic thrillers like Call After Midnight to medical thrillers like the Rizzoli & Isles series?

I started writing [romance thrillers] because I enjoyed reading them, and I began writing medical thrillers because I’ve always followed my own interests.

With such a busy schedule writing and being on the road, how do you find time to stay healthy and fit?

Time to stay fit while on the road? Hardly! I have ambitions to use the hotel fitness rooms, but tennis shoes are just too darned heavy to lug around in my carry-on. And I indulge in wine at lunch and dinner and eat the richest foods because they give me comfort while I’m away from home. In the UK, I ate french fries just about every single day! But you also burn lots of nervous energy on book tours, and surprisingly, I came home only one pound heavier.

[At home here in Camden,] I’m careful of what I eat–I don’t eat a lot of carbs and try to eat a lot of protein; I don’t have a sweet tooth. Your body’s a machine; you have to maintain it.

Take a fledgling writer like me through a typical day.

If I’m home, I wake up, eat breakfast, get on my treadmill, dialing it up to the highest incline for 45 minutes before I do my free weights. Then I’m at my desk all day, writing.

Did you say highest incline? Now you’re really scaring me!

I don’t write a word until I finish my treadmill in the morning. I’m a big believer in vitamins–especially calcium–for
women of my age.

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