<i>New York Times</i> Bestselling Author, Tess Gerritsen, Chats About Camden, Maine, <i>Ice Cold</i> & TNT Series

Best bowl of chowder in Camden, Maine? This is a matter of debate! Butbestselling author Tess Gerritsen's personal favorite is the seafood chowder at the Camden Deli.
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Tess Gerritsen, the New York Times bestselling author, on coastal Camden, Maine, a scenic, seafaring village, which she calls home.

Susan Fogwell: As a New York Times best selling author, you have made Camden, Maine your year round home. What are some of the special qualities that made you decide to live here?

Tess Gerritsen: After twelve years of living in Hawaii, I'd gotten a serious case of "rock fever." I just couldn't live on an island any longer. One summer, my husband and I came here on vacation. We were instantly charmed by the town, by the views, and by the gorgeous harbor. It seemed to have everything: a fabulous library, multiple bookstores, year-round restaurants, and good schools. All in a town of only about 5,000 people. Within a few months, we packed up, left Hawaii, and moved to Camden. In the middle of winter.

SF: For Camden and the mid-coast region, it is now leaf-peeping season. When is the best time to visit for glorious fall foliage?
TG: It varies from year to year, but you're pretty safe visiting during the first two weeks of October.

SF: When out of town guests visit you, where do you take them for the most impressive views of Penobscot Bay?
TG: The top of Mount Battie. It's reachable by auto, so no need for a strenuous hike, unless you want to.

SF: Which are some of your favorite must-see sights and outdoor activities in Camden
and surrounding area?

TG: Besides Mount Battie, I like taking visitors for a walk on Beauchamp Point and the Children's Chapel in Rockport. The Owl's Head Transportation Museum is always a big hit with auto and airplane enthusiasts. Art lovers will have a great time in the Farnsworth Museum as well as the numerous art galleries in Rockland. And of course, everyone should take a windjammer sail out of Camden Harbor.

SF: Where do you recommend visitors to stay in the village of Camden?
TG: We have a lot of terrific inns here, but my favorite is probably the Camden Harbour Inn, both for the amazing accommodations and restaurant.

SF: Food and travel go hand in hand. When I visit a place, I always ask a local for the inside scoop. What is your scoop on the following?

SF: Favorite lobster rolls?
TG: The Lobster Pound in Lincolnville.

SF: Best bowl of chowder?
TG: This is a matter of debate! But my personal favorite is the seafood chowder at the Camden Deli.

SF: Best blueberry pancakes?
TG: My own. Otherwise, my favorite breakfast spot is Boynton McKay on Main Street.

SF: Lunch with a harbor view?
TG: The Waterfront Restaurant on Bayview Street, Camden.

SF: Candlelight dinner for two?
TG: In Camden: Natalie's Restaurant, in the Camden Harbour Inn
In the midcoast area: Primo in Rockland has a well-deserved reputation as the best restaurant in Maine.

SF: Casual and fun fare?
TG: Francine Bistro, Camden.

SF: Sweet tooth satisfaction?
TG: Three Dogs Bakery, Rockport.

Tess on Writing

SF: Medical school to bestselling suspense author, how did the journey progress?
TG: I was a writer first, and knew I'd be a storyteller at age seven. But since my parents are very practical, they urged me to go into a profession that would be far more secure so I went to medical school. But after practicing medicine for a few years, while raising two sons (with a husband who was also a doctor) I realized that combining medicine with motherhood was more of a challenge than I could handle. So I left medicine and stayed home. And that's when I once again picked up the pen and began to write.

SF: What is your latest book and what inspired the plot?
TG: Ice Cold is the eighth in my Rizzoli and Isles thriller series. It was inspired by a true occurrence in the 1960's, now known as the "Dugway Incident," in which 6,000 sheep mysteriously died overnight in a remote area of Utah. I thought, "what if it happened instead to people? What if the inhabitants of an entire village vanished overnight?" And that was the plot of Ice Cold.

SF: Tell us about Hollywood knocking on your door and the new TNT Rizzoli and Isles series?
TG: Three years ago, the rights to my characters were optioned by a producer named Bill Haber, who told me he loved my characters, Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles, and felt they belonged in a TV series. Most of the time, these Hollywood deals never really go anywhere. But this project seemed to be born under a lucky star. Bill hired a wonderful screenwriter, Janet Tamaro (now executive producer) who wrote the pilot episode. The cast was top-notch, including Angie Harmon, Sasha Alexander, Lorraine Bracco, and Bruce McGill. When the episode aired in July on TNT, it broke all ratings records for a cable TV debut, and it's already been renewed for a second season.

SF: I feel as though I know Rizzoli and Isles, the two main characters in your crime thrillers, tell us about the actresses chosen for the two roles and how they differ from the characters in the books?
TG: There are a number of differences. Jane in my books is an ordinary looking woman, a bit scruffy, with a tough attitude. Angie Harmon is tall and gorgeous -- certainly not the plain Jane I'd imagined. But she's managed to channel the personality of Jane Rizzoli perfectly. Maura in the books is dark-haired, intense, and stand-offish. On TV, they've written her as far sunnier and more open, and she's played by a blond Sasha Alexander. The cast has great chemistry together, though, and I think that's what has made the show such a success.

SF: I have read most of your books and you are very adept at building chilling and edge of your seat scenes, has your medical background made you a better and more successful writer?
TG: My medical background has allowed me to bring realism to the medical and autopsy scenes, and I think it's also given me quite a bit of material for the stories, so it probably has contributed to my success. But the writing still has to stand on its own.

SF: How much of your day is dedicated to writing and what triggers your thought process in building characters and a plot?
TG: I devote most of my day to writing, and try to turn out at least four pages a day. As for what triggers the creative process, it's a mystery to me! Characters often just walk on the page and I wait to see what they do and say while I'm writing them.

SF: How long does it take you to finish a book from start to finish?
TG: I'm usually given a year to write a book, so that's about how long it takes me. It's actually a very short time, and I'd much prefer to have two years or more to write a book.

SF: What can be the biggest distraction while writing?
The Internet!

SF: What is a day in the life like for Tess Gerritsen in Camden, Maine?
TG: Breakfast, exercise, and then at my desk with pen and paper (yes, I write with pen and paper) until those four pages are done. With a break for lunch, of course.

SF: I have to ask, do you travel with a book or Kindle?
TG: If it's a short trip, I'll bring a real book. If it's a long trip, weeks or more, I'll bring my Kindle.

SF: And lastly, if you were stranded on a desert island, what is the one book you would have with you?
TG: Probably what everyone else will tell you: the Bible. Because there are enough stories in there to keep you engaged for years.