‘Bones’ Forensic Anthropologist Kathy Reichs On Her New Book for Teens

by Nicki Gostin
In 1997, Reichs started the hugely popular Temperance Brennan book series which has sold more than six million copies in paperback and serves as the basis for the Fox television series “Bones.” Mother to Kerry, 39, Courtney, 34, and Brendan, 32, and grandmother to Henry, 10 months, Declan, 4 months, Reichs has recently published “Virals,” a new book for teens. Tory, the book’s main character, is the grandniece of Brennan, the heroine of Reichs’ adult novels.

Reichs recently spoke with ParentDish about “Virals,” working with her son on the book and creating good role models for girls.

ParentDish: How did you get the idea for doing a book for kids?
Kathy Reichs: I’d been thinking about it, but I’d never really gone anywhere with it. It was actually my son’s idea. He studied law for two years and then decided he didn’t want to be a lawyer. He decided he’d rather be a writer, so it grew out of his idea and we kind of collaborated on the book.

PD: Was it easy or annoying working together?
KR: (Laughs) Both. We had some interesting creative meetings, I’ll say that. We did fall into a pattern. I had a style in mind and he’s a very quick study so he picked it up. We still had some disagreements, but we have a good working relationship. It took us about a year to write.

PD: How is it different writing a teen novel versus an adult novel?
KR: The story is as equally complicated, I’d say. It’s got a lot of twists; it’s kind of like writing a script for “Bones.” You’ve got your A, B and C story, you’ve got to intertwine them and bring them all together and not rely on coincidence. I think the dialogue is the main difference. The kids don’t talk like adults and, obviously, they don’t work in a forensic lab. You have to be more creative in how they have knowledge and access to some of the technology they use.

PD: How did you get into writing books?
KR: The Temperance Brennan books just sprang naturally because that’s what I do. I’m a forensic anthropologist. I figured write about what you know. I still practice, but not as much as I used to. But I still do casework.

PD: You know, girls’ math and science scores compared to those of boys is terrible.
KR: It’s very disturbing. I think that’s been the case historically. Girls are not encouraged, that’s for sure, and they drop it. When I look at forensics, the ratio of men to women, it’s getting better. But if you look at the hard sciences like chemistry and engineering it’s overwhelmingly male. One of the reasons I wanted to create characters like Temperance and Tory Brennan was to show that it is cool to study science. I get so many e-mails from around the world about it. It’s very gratifying.

PD: How did you achieve the balancing act between motherhood and work?
KR: Like any working woman, organization and discipline and maybe an aspirin at 5 when you’ve just come back from work, picked them up and have to get dinner ready, and all you want to do is sit down and all they want to do is talk to you. That, for me, was the toughest part about it.


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