Several mornings recently, I’ve waked with yet another question for Charlotte’s own best-selling writer Kathy Reichs.
When do you exercise? Do you cook? What do you read?
She’s responded to each question, graciously and promptly.
This week, Reichs is back from the U.K. and will read at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Park Road Books in Charlotte.
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Her 17th Temperance Brennan novel, “Bones Never Lie” (Bantam Hardcover, $27), opens with a gripping scene in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. Tempe, like Reichs, is a forensic anthropologist, and she’s been called in for a meeting, in which she learns that Anique Pomerleau, the killer from “Monday Mourning,” is at it again. Killing young girls in Vermont and North Carolina.
The familiar landmarks – Mortimer’s at the Epicentre, College Street, Carmel Country Club, Wilkinson Boulevard – make the story even more chilling.
After 16 novels starring the same leading character, you’d think Reichs might be teetering on the smoky edge of burnout.
“I don’t have time for burnout,” she says by email. “I am constantly shifting between working on Temperance Brennan books, Bones episodes and young adult books in the Virals series. And throw in a bit of forensic work too.”
Same with her characters. She keeps them engaged in new and different experiences.
For instance, in “Bones Never Lie,” Reichs introduces a new challenge for Tempe. Tempe’s mother, Katherine Daessee Lee Brennan, has been in and out of mental institutions, but she’s a computer whiz and invaluable in tracking down the killer.
“At times, she’s annoying as hell,” Reichs says.
Reichs keeps to a strict writing schedule.
“If I am not traveling, touring for a book release or at the lab, I am at the keyboard from morning until late afternoon,” she says. “I rarely work after dinner and a glass of wine.”
As for exercise, she hits the gym in the winter and swims laps in the summer, as long as water and air are sufficiently warm to make her 80/80 rule.
Cooking? Not much, unless the kids and grandkids are coming over.
Reading? She names British humor for total relaxation: Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Jasper Fforde. Thrillers, especially the darker stuff: Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Ian Rankin, James Lee Burke. And local color: Dorothea Benton Frank, Mary Alice Monroe. And, of course, her daughter Kerry Reichs’ books, “Leaving Unknown,” “What You Wish For.”
Back before Tempe, Reichs talked with the Observer about the possibility of writing op-ed pieces. She didn’t, but she adds diplomatically that she thinks journalism would’ve made a fascinating career.