Message From The Author

Tess Gerritsen

Book Title: VANISH
Genre: Suspense, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

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Author's Message

Tess Gerritsen Explains Her Genre-Move and Her Own Refusal To VANISH

As a thriller author, I'm often asked by astonished readers: "You used to write romance novels?" My answer is always a strong "YES!" Since my 1996 debut thriller, Harvest, I've drawn on all the skills I learned as a romance author
to enrich and strengthen my suspense novels. Romance novels, after all, focus on characters and relationships—vital elements in any novel, whatever the genre. I've read far too many thrillers that are full of action and slam-bam pyrotechnics, but devoid of the very elements romance novelists are experts in: characters who live and breathe, characters we care about, characters who are human enough to fall in love. Who better to write in any genre than a romance writer?

The transition to writing another genre isn't always easy. First, there's that pesky thing called genre prejudice. When the deal for Harvest was announced in the New York Times, they couldn't help adding the dismissive little comment that my "only publishing credits were a few Harlequin novels." It's a barrier that I'm sure other romance novelists have faced when moving into another genre, and the reason why some choose to write under a different pseudonym. Mystery readers in particular aren't always accepting of writers who've formerly worn that scarlet "R." But when I look at the bestseller lists these days, I notice that many of the suspense superstars on those lists are women whose roots are in romance. Writers who were beloved romance authors now excel as thriller writers.

Why do we switch? What makes us move to suspense?

In my case, it was a hunger to explore topics that were a little more intense or disturbing than would comfortably fit into a romance. From heart transplantation (Harvest) to serial killers (The Surgeon) to extraterrestrial epidemics (Gravity), these plots required me to move beyond the limits of what I'd been writing. Some of my romance fans followed me; some didn't. To my delight, some of my new readers have sought out my old Harlequin Intrigues and discovered romance novels can be great reads as well.

Good writing is, quite simply, good writing. And a skillful romance writer has what it takes to comfortably move across genres. In so many ways, we have an advantage over other genre writers, because we strive to touch our readers' hearts—which is exactly what they want.

The Surgeon (Aug. '01, Ballantine) "It was published as a thriller, but it's also a romance, and it won the 2001 RITA for best romantic suspense."

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