Author Kathy Reichs opens up about life after Bones, the global hit TV show based on her books
The final episode of hit TV crime drama Bones was broadcast in the United States last week, rounding off 12 seasons of adventures featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.
The character, who shares the writer’s original occupation, was created by bestselling author Kathy Reichs for her series of “Tempe” novels, the 19th volume of which is in the works.
The series, which has sold six million copies to date, began with Déjà Dead in 1997. She wrote the crime story on the side while working as an academic, to raise extra cash to help put her children through college.
We caught up with the 68-year-old author at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature last month, when she told us about death threats, saying goodbye to the TV series – on which she was a producer – and writing her first non-Bones book.
It must be an emotional time in the Bones TV camp.
It was hard – I was there for the final shoot and the wrap party, and all the regulars and a lot of the guest stars we’ve had over the years were there. Lots of speeches, lots of selfies, lots of tears – it was emotional. We’ve been a family for 13 years, and with that final cut that’s it – we’re done, we’re through.
Would you have liked it to have gone on longer?
I would and I think a lot of the on-screen talent would, too – but it was time. We’re the longest-running scripted drama in the history of Fox TV network. So 246 shows, it’s a lot. You want to go out on top.
With the TV show over, can you imagine the Bones books ending?
Yes – and when I end it, I’ll give it a proper wrap-up. There will be a time to end the series.
Your next book, Two Nights, is your first that is not part of the Brennan series, and introduces a new character. Where did the inspiration come from?
My publisher. I wasn’t really thinking about that – I was just going to write another Temperance Brennan book – and I said, “Y’know what, it might be a refreshing stimulus.” The more I thought about it, the more I realised how much I was thinking about it.
You were a full-time university professor when you wrote the first book. What were your expectations for it?
I just hoped it would get published, and maybe someone would read it, and they might like it. When I created the character I did do it with the idea it would be a series, not a one-off. But I didn’t expect 19 volumes in 37 languages, and a TV show in every foreign territory in the world. It’s been a global phenomenon.
Yet you had no background in fiction writing.
I avoided literature classes as an undergraduate – I have no training in writing. I had done scientific articles and textbooks, and I didn’t want to do another one of those. I’d just worked a serial-murder case which had some interesting elements.
I had a colleague who was writing some straight-to-paperback romance novels, making a little extra money on the side, and I had three children heading to university – colleges are expensive – so I thought I could make a little extra money. All of that came together.
The character of Tempe is always described as being “loosely inspired” by your forensic anthropology career. What piece of advice would you give her as a scientist?
She tends to a be a little intense – I’d say, “Just relax, you’re OK.” But then, usually there’s someone trying to kill her – and that’s really not happened to me.
You never had death threats?
I have. One time when testifying in a murder trial – he’d killed his girlfriend and dismembered her; she actually floated ashore in two jurisdictions – the prosecutor said, “Come wait in my office, the defendant says he’s going to kill you.
And he has in fact killed his girlfriend and cut her up, so if he comes at you, just stay in the witness box”. And I’m thinking, if he comes at me I know exactly what I’m doing – I’m going to dive behind the judge.
• Two Nights will be published on July 11
Updated: April 2, 2017 04:00 AM