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Camden author Tess Gerritsen releases new novel, 'The Shape of Night'

By Daniel Dunkle | Sep 07, 2019
Photo by: Daniel Dunkle Tess Gerritsen

Camden — For decades Tess Gerritsen has written medical thrillers, stories about detectives hunting down killers, and tales of romantic suspense, but her new novel coming out Oct. 1 explores new ground for her.

"The Shape of Night" has many of the thriller trappings, including unexplained murders on the coast of Maine, but it is also a ghost story.

"I've never done paranormal before," she said. "I've never written horror as a genre, because my feet are so firmly on the ground."

In the story, a writer named Ava rents a house to finish a writing project and soon learns it is haunted by the ghost of Capt. Jeremiah Brodie, a sailor dead more than a century.

"So this story goes back a couple of decades when I wrote this script about a woman who falls in love with a ghost," Gerritsen said. "It was like a horror movie, and I never really did anything with it. So years have gone past, and I thought that was a really great setup. Haunted house, woman falls in love with a ghost, but what if the narrator is not entirely reliable? Is the ghost real, and what if there is something terribly dangerous about this house?"

The book is a sexy thriller that deals with what women want and what they believe they need in a lover, Gerritsen said. In some ways, a ghost makes the best lover for a person who is running away from her secret past, as Ava is.

"This woman has done something she's so incredibly ashamed of, and how does this seep into the rest of her life; how does this change how she sleeps and how she wakes and what she sees," Gerritsen said. "Shame is worse when you don't talk about it. It gets its power from secrecy."

The book is a bit of a departure for Gerritsen, in that it is not part of her popular Rizzoli & Isles series, but a standalone story. It is told in the first person to provide a stronger sense of intimacy and allow for an unreliable narrator.

Some of the inspiration came from Gerritsen's parents.

"My mother was truly a believer in ghosts," the author said. "She saw ghosts as a child. She believed they were all around us, and I remember one of the things she said was, 'The reason you don't see as many ghosts in America is that it is not as old a country as China. China has so many more souls that have passed.'"

The novel also draws on her father's life as a cook in the family's restaurant.

"I grew up with food and with cooking and this great respect for people who could put this great meal on the table, and that is what Ava does. She's a cookbook author, and she's come to Maine to work on this book that she's been blocked on because of personal issues. So there's a lot about food and about the sensuousness of food and cooking."

Gerritsen said it also features a Maine coon cat that is an important character in the story. "I'm famous for killing animals in fiction," she said, but she assures readers they need not worry. The cat lives.

Gerritsen is the author of nearly 30 novels, many of them bestselling thrillers. She has also written movie scripts, including the horror film "Island Zero," directed by her son, Josh Gerritsen, of Lincolnville. She and Josh are currently collaborating on a documentary called "Pig," and planning their next horror movie, "The Change."

She lives in Camden with her husband, Jacob.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Sep 07, 2019 13:43

Cannot wait to read this new novel. Am an avid fan, for sure!

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