Your backstage pass to the world’s most prolific authors

JD Barker
Christine Daigle
Kevin Tumlinson
Jena Brown

What does it take to succeed as a writer? Join hosts J.D. Barker, Christine Daigle, Kevin Tumlinson and Jena Brown as they pull back the curtain and gain rare insight from the household names found on bookshelves worldwide.

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Tess Gerritsen has spent decades refining her craft. From handwritten first drafts to listening to her characters, she follows the Muse on her creative journey. Tess wasn’t sure she’d write another Rizzoli & Isles book until she became excited about the possibilities of another installment in the hugely successful series. Whether it’s tending to her vegetable garden or her archive of handwritten manuscripts, Tess does so with care and creativity. Her characters are beloved worldwide, a testament to her enduring ability to master the craft of writing while being a keen observer of the world around her.


Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to a writing career. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D.

While on maternity leave from her work as a physician, she began to write fiction. In 1987, her first novel was published. Call After Midnight, a romantic thriller, was followed by eight more romantic suspense novels. She also wrote a screenplay, “Adrift”, which aired as a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week starring Kate Jackson.

Tess’s first medical thriller, Harvest, was released in hardcover in 1996, and it marked her debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Her suspense novels since then have been: Life Support (1997), Bloodstream (1998), Gravity (1999), The Surgeon (2001), The Apprentice (2002), The Sinner (2003), Body Double (2004), Vanish (2005), The Mephisto Club (2006), The Bone Garden (2007), The Keepsake (2008; UK title: Keeping the Dead), Ice Cold (2010; UK title: The Killing Place), The Silent Girl (2011), Last To Die (2012), Die Again (2014), Playing With Fire (2015), and I Know A Secret (2017). Her books have been published in forty countries, and more than 30 million copies have been sold around the world.

Her books have been top-3 bestsellers in the United States and number one bestsellers abroad. She has won both the Nero Wolfe Award (for Vanish) and the Rita Award (for The Surgeon). Critics around the world have praised her novels as “Pulse-pounding fun” (Philadelphia Inquirer), “Scary and brilliant” (Toronto Globe and Mail), and “Polished, riveting prose” (Chicago Tribune). Publisher Weekly has dubbed her the “medical suspense queen”.

Her series of novels featuring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the TNT television series “Rizzoli & Isles” starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.

Now retired from medicine, she writes full time. She lives in Maine.

For more information on Tess Gerritsen and her novels, visit her website:

In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • How getting your first paycheck changes everything
  • Why you need to avoid monomouth
  • Why a handwritten first draft can open new possibilities
  • When to plant lettuce


J. D. Barker –

J. Thorn –

Zach Bohannon –

Wonder Lodge – 

2022 Colorado Gold Writers Conference – 

Tess Gerritsen – 

Rizzoli & Isles: Listen to Me: A Novel 

Three Story Method: Writing Scenes – 

Best of BookTook – 

Story Rubric –  

Nonfic Rubric –  

Scene Rubric – 

Proudly sponsored by Kobo Writing Life – and Atticus –

Music by Nicorus – 

Voice Over by Rick Ganley – and recorded at Mill Pond Studio –

Audio production by Geoff Emberlyn – 

Contact – 

*Full disclosure: Some of the links are affiliate links.


  1. Christopher Wills

    2 years ago  

    Great interview, I enjoy Tess’ books and the TV series. The dialogue discussion about ‘monomouth’ were interesting. I try to avoid this by reading the dialogue out loud with attitude as if I was an actor playing all the parts. This helps me make each voice individual and edit in changes to make it sound more realistic.
    I also found ‘plotblock’ interesting. I’m more likely to have plot profusion. I often have to reject good storylines because I can’t write them all.
    Didn’t you used to have some other guy with you? Can’t remember his name but is he OK?
    Great show today.

  2. J. Thorn

    2 years ago  

    Who? LOL!

  3. The Creative Secret of Writing Longhand - The Pitch Master

    2 years ago  

    […] Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles books) […]

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