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Suspense, mystery, medicine...
Tess Gerritsen, M.D. is a Chinese-American novelist and retired physician. Her first name is actually Terry--she decided to feminize it when she was writing romance novels. Gerritsen is the child of a Chinese immigrant and a Chinese-American seafood chef.
While growing up in San Diego, California, Gerritsen often dreamt of writing her own Nancy Drew novels. Although she longed to be a writer, her family was concerned about the sustainability of a writing career, prompting Gerritsen to choose a career in medicine. In 1975, Gerritsen graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in anthropology, then studied medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She received her medical degree in 1979 and started work as a physician in Honolulu, Hawai'i. While on maternity leave, she submitted a short story to a state-wide fiction contest in the magazine Honolulu. Her story, 'On Choosing the Right Crack Seed,' won her first prize and $500. The story focused on a young male reflecting on a difficult relationship with his mother, which Gerritsen claimed allowed her to deal with her own childhood turmoil, including the repeated suicide attempts of her mother.
Inspired by the romance novels she enjoyed reading while working as a doctor, Gerritsen's first novels were romantic thrillers. After two unpublished practice novels, Call was bought by publisher Harlequin Intrigue in 1986 and published a year later. In 1996, Gerritsen published her first medical thriller novel, Harvest. Having already decided to pursue the medical thriller genre, the plot was inspired by a conversation with a retired homicide detective who had recently been travelling in Russia. He told her that young orphans were vanishing from the streets of Moscow, and police believed the children were being shipped out as organ donors. Following Harvest, Gerritsen wrote three subsequent bestselling medical thrillers, Support, Bloodstream and Gravity.
In 2001, Gerritsen's first crime thriller, The Surgeon, was released. It introduced the character of homicide detective Jane Rizzoli. Although Rizzoli was only a secondary character in The Surgeon, the character has been a central focus of a series of nine novels pairing her with medical examiner Dr. Maura Isles. The books inspired the Rizzoli and Isles television series. Although Gerritsen's most recent publications have been in the Rizzoli/Isles series, Gerritsen wrote one stand-alone historical thriller, The Bone Garden, in 2007.
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