Mystery Writers Key West Fest: Murder and Mayhem in Paradise!

Interview with Lisa Black

New York Times bestselling novelist Lisa Black is author of a series of acclaimed forensic thrillers: Close to the Bone, The Price of Innocence, Blunt Impact, Defensive Wounds, Trail of Blood, Evidence of Murder, Takeover and the newly released, That Darkness. She is also a


Q&A with Lisa Black

Q: Which came first, the scientist or the writer?

LB: The writer, actually. I always wrote, and always mysteries, from the time I was small. I would put my friends and myself into our favorite TV show. But when I began my career in forensics it just made sense to apply that knowledge to telling a mystery story.

Q: Your bio says you “spent the happiest five years of your life in a morgue.” Care to elaborate on that a little?

LB: I don't know how else to explain it but I absolutely loved working at the Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office. I've never felt I belonged somewhere as much as I did there. It was hard, dirty, exhausting and largely routine, but I felt as if my life had finally begun.

Q: You are expert at analyzing bloodstain patterns. Do you cringe when you see bloodstain pattern snafu’s in television and movies?

LB: Only confusing cast-off patterns with impact patterns. And that doesn't bother me nearly as much as people wearing high heels and skin tight designer clothes or picking things up before they photograph them. Or doing things like sniffing perfume molecules out of the air (ten hours later) and running them through a 'perfume database' as if such a thing actually existed. Especially one that could also hack into the sales receipts of every store in the world.

Q: All of your books written as Lisa Black (there are also two series written under pen names) star forensic scientist Theresa MacLean. Was Theresa modeled after anyone in particular? What do you feel is Theresa’s most compelling personal characteristic? Achilles heel?

LB: Actually the new book is the beginning of a new series starring Maggie Gardiner, a little bit younger, less social version of Theresa. Theresa was a very ordinary, stable, hardworking, family-oriented person. Maggie does not have any children and no close relatives in the city, so emotionally she's on her own. Theresa was unsurprisingly modeled on myself, but Maggie really isn't. I’m not quite sure who she is yet.

Q: If you could chose any actress, from any era, living or non-living to portray Theresa MacLean, who would you chose and why?

LB: Julianne Moore. She seems the perfect combination of competent and unassuming. For Maggie, I don't know...Eliza Dushku?

Q: You are a professional forensic scientist who writes crime fiction. Is there the possibility of a true-crime book in your future?

LB: I would love to write true crime, but it's actually very difficult to find exactly the right story plus one that isn't already written. But I just read a great book about the Kitty Genovese murder by Catherine Pelonero that inspired me to start thinking about the true crime genre again.


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