A new novel in the Kay Scarpetta series is hitting the shelves. Good Reading caught up with Patricia Cornwell to find out what inspired Unnatural Death and how she stays up to date with the latest advancements in the field of forensic science.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Two mauled bodies in the woods. Top-secret autopsies. The most chilling case of Scarpetta’s career . . .
In this thrilling new instalment of the #1 bestselling series, chief medical examiner Dr Kay Scarpetta finds herself in a Northern Virginia wilderness. She must examine the remains of two campers wanted by federal law enforcement.
The victims have been savaged beyond recognition, and other evidence is terrifying and baffling, including a larger-than-life footprint.
After the most frightening body retrievals of her career, Scarpetta must discover who would commit murders this savage, and why.
Q&A WITH PATRICIA CORNWELL
Unnatural Death is the 27th novel in your Kay Scarpetta series. What inspired you to continue Scarpetta’s story in this latest instalment?
I always stay with something I wonder about. In this case, what if a huge footprint was found near a violent death scene inside an uninhabited forest? What would Scarpetta do?
Your novels look at the forensic science behind criminal cases – how do you stay up to date with the latest advancements in this field?
Research. In a nutshell, I’ve always lived in the world I write about to an extent. I go to locations whether it’s a spaceport or a creepy cavern. I spend time with the people who do the work such as Secret Service agents, scientists and others who are experts in unusual fields.
And I learn what I can whether it’s flying a helicopter, scuba diving, riding a motorcycle … whatever it might be and no matter how scary (within reason), I try to learn.
How does Scarpetta evolve in your latest novel and what challenges will she face?
She has to come up with a different way of handling the cases because she can’t be sure what she’s dealing with. Most of all, she must stay open-minded, listening to what people tell her instead of deciding what she thinks the answer should be. A very big challenge will be when she realizes an old enemy has resurfaced – perhaps the worst one of all.
In what ways have your personal experiences shaped the forensic elements in your novels?
Every aspect of my writing is filtered through what I’ve learned and am constantly learning. The novels of today include technologies that Scarpetta couldn’t have dreamed of when I was first getting started. If I don’t keep up with what is actually going on outside my door, I would run out of stories. So, I’m constantly learning.
Can you share any of your writing habits or routines that help with your creative process?
Follow your curiosity. Go out and look for a story until it finds you. And work hard, always trying to be better. I’m at my desk virtually every day of the year. I start early and finish around dinner time, breaking up the day to exercise and do other things to recharge my battery.
Can you share any insights into what might be next for Kay Scarpetta and if there’s another novel in the works?
I’m currently looking into UAPs (UFOs) …