Interview with Tess Gerritsen, Author of Playing with Fire

13 Nov 2015
Tell us a little bit about your new release, Playing with Fire.

Julia is a violinist who buys a mysterious handwritten waltz, “Incendio,” from a Rome antique store. Every time she plays it, her three-year-old daughter becomes violent. To save her family — and perhaps her own sanity — Julia must find the origins of this music. Her search takes her to Italy, where she learns of a tragic love story and a dark time in Italian history.

What is the one movie you can quote the most?

“Galaxy Quest.” It’s a SF-comedy that I watch whenever I need to laugh. “Never give up, never surrender!” is my favorite line from the movie.

What’s rocking your world this month?

“Incendio,” the music I composed for my book, is about to be released on ITunes. It’s my first time as a published composer, and I’m finding it all pretty cool!

If you had to pick one place to vacation for the rest of your life, where would you choose?

Italy. The food, the history, the people, the language — I could explore it for several lifetimes.

Tell us about Incendio, the music that inspired Playing with Fire.

When I first wrote about it, it was a purely fictional piece of music. In the story, “Incendio” is like an echo from the past, connecting my heroine Julia with the tragic story of the composer, Lorenzo. While writing the book, I described the piece in great detail, how it starts off as a mournful melody, how it becomes more and more disturbing. Somehow, my subconscious absorbed all those descriptions because one morning, I woke up with the melody itself in my head. I composed the entire 98-bar piece in about 6 weeks. It’s been recorded by concert violinist Yi-Jia Susanne Hou, and is available on iTunes as the theme music to Playing with Fire.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A writer. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was seven years old.

How did you make the transition from M.D. to full-time writer?

While on maternity leave for my first child, I started writing in earnest. After winning a major writing contest, I realized that I might actually have a future as a writer. A few years later, I sold my first novel, and a few novels later, I left medicine for good. I suppose it’s fair to say that I owe my writing career to my children!

What’s your favorite quote or scene from Playing with Fire?

It comes from my historical notes at the end of the book. “These are the people I wanted to honor in Playing with Fire, these ordinary men and women whose quiet acts of humanity and sacrifice give us all hope. Even in the darkest of times, there will always be a Laura to light the way.”

Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?

Stay curious.

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Tess Gerritsen is the author of the new book The Nightmare Place.

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Author Website

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