Tuesday, October 1, 2019

"The Shape of Night" by Tess Gerritsen

The Shape of Night
by Tess Gerritsen

The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen

New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen stops by today for an interview and to share an excerpt from her latest novel, The Shape of Night.

A woman trying to outrun her past is drawn to a coastal village in Maine - and to a string of unsolved murders - in this novel of romance and psychological suspense from New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen.
After an unspeakable tragedy in Boston, Ava Collette flees to a remote village in Maine, where she rents an old house named Brodie’s Watch.
In that isolated seaside mansion, Ava finally feels at peace ... until she glimpses the long-dead sea captain who still resides there.
Rumor has it that Captain Jeremiah Brodie has haunted the house for more than a century. One night, Ava confronts the apparition, who feels all too real, and who welcomes her into his world - and into his arms. Even as Ava questions her own sanity, she eagerly looks forward to the captain’s ghostly visits. But she soon learns that the house she loves comes with a terrible secret, a secret that those in the village don’t want to reveal: Every woman who has ever lived in Brodie’s Watch has also died there. Is the ghost of Captain Brodie responsible, or is a flesh-and-blood killer at work? A killer who is even now circling closer to Ava?

Even now I still dream about Brodie’s Watch, and the nightmare is always the same. I am standing in the gravel driveway and the house looms before me like a ghost ship adrift in the fog. Around my feet mist curls and slithers and it coats my skin in icy rime. I hear waves rolling in from the sea and crashing against the cliffs, and overhead, seagulls scream a warning to stay far, far away. I know that Death waits behind that front door, yet I do not retreat because the house is calling to me. Perhaps it will always call to me, its siren song compelling me to once again climb the steps to the porch, where the swing creaks back and forth.
I open the door.
Inside  everything is wrong, all wrong. This is no longer the magnificent house I once lived in and loved. The massive carved banister is strangled by vines that twist like green serpents around the railing. The floor is carpeted by dead leaves which have blown in through shattered windows. I hear the slow tap, tap of rainwater dripping relentlessly from the ceiling, and I look up to see one solitary crystal pendant dangling from the skeletal chandelier. The walls, once painted cream and adorned with handsome crown molding, are now streaked with tentacles of mold. Long before Brodie’s Watch was here, before the men who built it hauled up wood and stone, hammered beams to posts, this hill where it stands was a place of moss and forest. Now the forest is reclaiming its territory. Brodie’s Watch is in retreat and the smell of decay hangs in the air.
I hear the humming of flies somewhere above me, and as I start up the staircase the ominous sound grows louder. The once- sturdy steps I climbed every night sag and groan with my weight. The banister, once polished to satiny smoothness, bristles with thorns and vines. I reach the second- floor landing and a fly appears, buzzing as it circles and dive- bombs my head. Another fly moves in, and another, as I start down the hallway toward the master bedroom. Through the closed door I can hear the flies’ greedy hum in the room beyond, where something has drawn them to feast.
I open the door and the hum instantly becomes a roar. They attack me in a cloud so thick I am choking. I wave and flail at them but they swarm my hair, my eyes, my mouth. Only then do I realize what has drawn the flies to this room. To this house.
Me. They are feasting on me.

Praise for the Book
“Suspenseful, sexy, and soulful. This book reminds me why I love reading. I wish this were a series so I could spend more time in Tucker’s Cove. Tess Gerritsen is a writer I look up to!” ~ J. R. Ward, bestselling author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series
“Reminiscent of the best of du Maurier, this modern gothic is eerie, tantalizing, spine-tingling, and sensual. [...] An altogether delicious read.” ~ Sandra Brown, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“With a twisty mix of dangerous passion, obsession, and suspense, Tess Gerritsen reinvents the Gothic novel, giving it a razor-sharp, modern edge.” ~ Jayne Ann Krentz, New York Times bestselling author of Untouchable
“This supernatural thriller from bestseller Gerritsen ranks with the best of her crime fiction. [...] This magnetic haunted house story will keep readers riveted from the very first page.” ~ Publishers Weekly
“A spellbinding thriller [...] Gerritsen shifts a murder mystery into a Gothic thriller, replete with an unsteady widow’s walk, secret alcove, strange smells, ominous sensations, and the ghost. The prologue echoes the dream of Manderley from Du Maurier’s Rebecca. [...] This riveting Gothic thriller explores the limits of love, guilt, and punishment.” ~ Kirkus Reviews

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
Hoping to finish writing her long-overdue cookbook, Ava rents Brodie's Watch, a historic house on the coast of Maine, for the summer. She immediately feels an eerie presence in the house. She later catches sight of someone on the widow’s walk, hears a man’s voice, smells his briny scent, and even feels his touch. Could the house be haunted by Captain Jeremiah Brodie, the man who built the house in 1861 but went down with his ship over one hundred and fifty years ago? Or could it perhaps be something even more sinister?
When I started reading this book, I was taken back to the time when I used to read the gothic romances of Victoria Holt, so I was pleased to read in an interview that the author “devoured” Ms. Holt’s novels long before she herself became a writer. The premise reminds me of the television series The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, which the author credits as her inspiration in my interview with her. In addition, the title brings to mind The Shape of Water, as does the idea of an other-worldly lover. Nevertheless, the book remains wholly original. It's full of great descriptions of the Maine coastline, creating a real sense of atmosphere. We are also introduced to a host of locals, who all seem charming but become likely murder candidates when a body is discovered. The author does a great job of maintaining suspense throughout this erotic paranormal thriller.
This book was an enjoyable change of pace for me.
Warnings: sex scenes, erotica, violence, coarse language.

Some of My Favorite Lines
“In my car there is only me, carrying no luggage except for the emotional baggage that will weigh me down for the rest of my life.”
“How I long to be the safe harbor he seeks, but I am a century and a half too late.”
“It’s better to live with the guilt and die with the secret. Sometimes, silence is the one true way to prove your love.”

Interview with the Author
New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerristen joins me today to discuss her new novel, The Shape of Night.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
I recommend this book to readers aged sixteen and over.
What sparked the idea for this book?
One of my favorite TV shows as a child was The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, about a widow who rents a haunted house. I love haunted-house stories and wherever I travel, I’m likely to sign up for a haunted-house tour. I thought: what if a woman fell in love with the ghost haunting her house? What if she soon learns that every woman who’s ever lived in that house has also died there? Is the ghost killing them, or is the killer someone who’s very much alive? 
So, which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
It depends on the story. Some of my books start off with the plot, others with the character. In The Shape of Night, the character (Ava) was the starting point, because she has a secret that has left her terribly ashamed, and she tries to flee her past. This is what makes her hide away in Brodie’s Watch, a house haunted by Captain Jeremiah Brodie.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
The love scenes where the hardest part to write. I rewrote them multiple times because I want them to be both enticing but also a bit shocking.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I hope they’re deeply immersed in the world of Tucker Cove and also anxious to find out what happens between Ava and the mysterious Captain Brodie.
Mission accomplished! How long did it take you to write this book?
It took me over a year, which is a bit longer than most of my books. It was such a different project for me, and I wanted to take my time to tell the story.
What is your writing routine?
I try to write about 1000 words a day. I write my first drafts in longhand on unlined typing paper because I think it keeps my internal editor from intruding too much into the creative process. I can finish a first draft in about six months, and I use the rest of the year to revise.
How did you get your book published?
This will be published by my long-term publisher Ballantine (which is part of Random House). I have a literary agent who has been with me for almost 25 years, and she negotiates my book contracts.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Choose a premise that is deeply emotional for you, so that you feel your way through the story. Create characters who have deep conflicts to resolve. Then write the best book you can write and revise it until it’s perfect. I think my literary agent is an important part of why I’ve become successful, and I still believe that new writers should seek an agent to represent them.
Great advice! What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love to garden, to cook, and to travel. I’m also an amateur violinist, and I enjoy getting together with friends who are musicians.
What does your family think of your writing?
At first, my husband wasn’t certain why I was so obsessed with telling stories. But, with time, he realized it really is part of who I am, and I’m lucky he supported me through the early years of my career, before I became successful.
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I’m the daughter of an immigrant mother (from China) and a Chinese-American father. Books were a big part of our household, and reading was always encouraged. Thanks to my mother’s love of horror films, I watched some pretty frightening movies when I was young, and I think that gave me my sense of storytelling.
So, did you like reading when you were a child?
I loved it. I started reading the Nancy Drew mystery series for children, and that was my introduction to the mystery genre. 
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was seven years old, and I wrote my first book. I even bound the pages together with needle and thread.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
The Nancy Drew stories inspired me to be a bit of an amateur detective and to explore the world with an inquisitive eye. It taught me that curiosity is a gift, and I’ve always been interested in a wide range of subjects. All of this has influenced my writing.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I get emails and fan mail from a number of readers, and it’s always nice to hear that they’re enjoying my stories!
Fantastic! What can we look forward to from you in the future?
The Shape of Night comes out today, 1 October, and I’m in the planning stages for a spy novel starring an older female character.
Thanks so much for stopping by today, Tess. Congratulations on your new release!

About the Author
Tess Gerritsen
Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to a writing career. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D.
While on maternity leave from her work as a physician, she began to write fiction. In 1987, her first novel was published. Call After Midnight, a romantic thriller, was followed by eight more romantic suspense novels. She also wrote a screenplay, Adrift, which aired as a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week starring Kate Jackson.
Tess's first medical thriller, Harvest, was released in hardcover in 1996, and it marked her debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Her suspense novels since then have been: Life Support (1997), Bloodstream (1998), Gravity (1999), The Surgeon (2001), The Apprentice (2002), The Sinner (2003), Body Double (2004), Vanish (2005), The Mephisto Club (2006), The Bone Garden (2007), The Keepsake (2008; UK title: Keeping the Dead), Ice Cold (2010; UK title: The Killing Place), The Silent Girl (2011), Last To Die (2012), Die Again (2014), Playing With Fire (2015), and I Know A Secret (2017). Her books have been published in forty countries, and more than 30 million copies have been sold around the world.
Her books have been top-3 bestsellers in the United States and number one bestsellers abroad. She has won both the Nero Wolfe Award (for Vanish) and the Rita Award (for The Surgeon). Critics around the world have praised her novels as “pulse-pounding fun” (Philadelphia Inquirer), “scary and brilliant” (Toronto Globe and Mail), and “polished, riveting prose” (Chicago Tribune). Publisher Weekly has dubbed her the “medical suspense queen”.
Her series of novels featuring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the TNT television series Rizzoli & Isles starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.
Now retired from medicine, she writes full time. She lives in Maine.


Featured in this post: