Interview with Patricia Cornwell


AE: What do you think about the representation of lesbian characters in other contemporary books?
PC: I have to admit I’m more familiar with what I see on television and so forth. The L Word is loads of fun, but do I think that really depicts life as most of us know it? I certainly don’t.

I think that a lot of gay women actually just lead normal lives and are quiet about their relationships. You see them more just in a normal restaurant having dinner together. Or maybe I just don’t go to the right places.

Staci and I often look at each other when we’re watching shows like that and say, Where are these places? I want a coffee shop like that. Where the hell is this? It’s the same thing with Queer as Folk. I’d like to find a bar like that in Pittsburgh. Where is it?

But anything on TV is going to be much more dramatic and more exciting to watch.

AE: When you were talking about the elaborate construction of your plots, I was actually going to ask if you’d ever read anything by Sarah Waters.
PC: I haven’t.

AE: You should check her out. She’s a British writer and most of her books are set in the Victorian era and they have some pretty juicy and intricate storylines. You should read Fingersmith.
PC: I’ll write her name down. I’m actually going over there tomorrow on book tour so I’ll get somebody to look for one of her books for me.

AE: What are you currently working on?
PC: I’ve started the next Scarpetta book and I think it’s going to be really, really exciting. I’m going to be secretive about what it’s about because you’re going to find out something about Scarpetta’s past that nobody has ever known before. Something that she was involved in at some point in her life in terms of a career situation. I actually think it’s going to blow people away because this lady’s got a secret.

AE: Secrets are great.
PC: I’d like to tell you that she’s a closet gay [laughing] because everybody wants her to be — and maybe she is, she does not always invite me in her bedroom so I don’t really know what she does all of the time, just for the record. I do know she is very open-minded and if she felt like it, she would help herself, I’m quite sure. But don’t get your hopes up because that’s not the secret.

AE: [Laughing] I never imagined that was the secret.
PC: I’ve had people ask me for years, “Come on, tell me, I know!” Well, now, look, maybe she dabbled in college, maybe that will come out at some point, or maybe when Angelina Jolie is playing her on the big screen.

AE: There you go.
PC: But she does have something from her past that she’s still involved in now that almost no one knows about. It’s a really cool thing. I think it’s going to stun people. It’s not a hobby, it’s something deadly serious. My research is taking me into some areas I’ve never gone into before so I’m excited about the prospects of this next book.

It’s going to be a big story on a big stage. And I have no idea what’s going to happen because I never know until I get into it and then I don’t usually know until it’s all over with.

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