Thursday, February 17, 2011

Kathy Reichs impresses during whistle-stop Auckland visit

Last Sunday I headed up to Dymock's Newmarket to listen to and meet Kathy Reichs, the creator of the acclaimed Temperence Brennan series of forensic thrillers that have been (loosely) adapted into the popular Bones TV show.

Despite the fact her visit was on pretty short notice, and it was something of a perfect 'head to the beach' day outside, a large crowd still packed the bookstore to meet Reichs. Interestingly, it was quite a young crowd compared to some I've seen for other crime writer visits - predominantly female (about 80%), with a lot of people in their 20s and 30s. One person said to me in an aside that perhaps it was because Brennan is one of those heroines that younger females can look up to, as well as the books being interesting reads for m/any crime fiction fans.

Reichs had been giving lectures on a cruise ship that had docked in Auckland, so took the time to meet readers at Dymocks on Sunday, as well as two Whitcoulls book signings on Monday. Along with her most recent Temperence Brennan tale, MORTAL REMAINS, she has also recently released her first young adult thriller, VIRALS.

She took the time to talk to the audience about both novels, as well as how she got into writing, her involvement with the Bones television series, and more. Surprisingly for a New Zealand audience (Kiwis can be quite reticent and laidback), there were plenty of questions asked when she opened things up to the floor. A few snippets from a wonderful afternoon:
  • Reichs is a producer on the popular TV series, and has in fact written one episode herself. She also provides scientific knowledge during the 'ideas' phase, and reviews the scripts of all of the episodes as well. At first she was surprised how slim the manuscripts for an episode are (50 pages or so, at one minute of screentime per page) compared to novels, but she has got used to it and enjoys being able to read the entire TV story so quickly.
  • The writers and producers want to take viewers into a 'different world' with each episode of the show, whether it is something like Wiccan and witches (the episode Reichs wrote), or a particular culture or profession.
  • Although there are some big differences between the Bones TV show and the 'Bones' books, Reichs now likes to see the TV show as something of an alternate-world prequel to the books - Brennan's life when she was younger, before she got married and had a family, started working in NC and Quebec, and met Ryan etc. Reichs also likes the way that Bones is set in the Smithsonian in Washington DC, as she herself did her first forensic procedure in that very city, many years ago.
  • MORTAL REMAINS was actually called SPIDER BONES in the United States. Reichs isn't entirely sure why her North American and UK/Commonwealth publishers sometimes use different titles for her books.
  • The idea for MORTAL REMAINS came from Reichs' own real-life work for JPAC, where she aided in the identification of war dead from World War II, Korea, and Southeast Asia.
  • She talked to the audience about the importance, in both novels and TV, of having multiple layers to a story - an 'A' story that might involve a particular plot/incident, and a 'B' story involving ongoing things about characters, along with perhaps a 'C' story and other strands for plots and characters.
  • VIRALS, her first book for younger readers, is the debut in a series starring Tory Brennan, niece of Temperence, and her 'science geek' friends. After rescuing a caged animal from a supposedly deserted science lab, Tori and her friends begin to exhibit physical changes to their senses - they become 'the Virals'. At the same time they are caught up in a murder mystery dating back decades, and tied in with the laboratory.
  • Two of Reichs' children are now also writers, at least one having given away a career in the law to do so (something I could relate to). Reichs co-wrote VIRALS with her son Brendan, and her daughter Kerry, a former Washinton DC lawyer, has also published three books. You can listen to a radio interview with the three writing Reichs's here.
I really enjoyed listening to Kathy Reichs on Sunday afternoon. She came across as very down-to-earth, friendly, and funny. She seems to have a real energy and love of life, had the large audience chuckling quite often, was very patient with those wanting autographs and photos, and everyone had a great time. Despite her tight schedule she also kindly spent a few minutes chatting to me afterwards (see photo above), including answering the 9mm questions - keep an eye out for her 9mm interview here on Crime Watch in the near future. Thanks to publicist Jennifer Balle, and the rest of the team at Random House and Dymocks, for putting on such an enjoyable event.
In the meantime, you can read more about Kathy Reichs at her website here, and about her new series and young adult novel VIRALS, here.
Have you read any Kathy Reichs novels? Do you enjoy forensic thrillers, in books or on TV or film? Do you watch Bones? Do you enjoy meeting authors? Thoughts and comments welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Craig - I'm glad the visit went so well and that you got to meet Kathy Reichs. I've enjoyed a few of her novels and I like well-written forensic thrills. Thanks for sharing.