Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kathy Reichs talking about Going Viral

I love the TV series Bones (and yes, I admit it, I haven't read the books) and also loved Kathy Reichs' first YA title, Virals. School Library Journal has a fascinating interview with her here. I've posted the first few questions and if you want to read the rest, click here. And you can see my review of Virals here.

Were you trying to expand your Bones franchise by making Tory the grandniece of Temperance?

While I hope my adult readers will give Virals a chance, the idea for a young adult series actually came from my son, Brendan Reichs. We thought of Virals as a way to reach out to students and hopefully inspire them to consider scientific careers. When I tour in support of my Temperance Brennan novels, I often encounter younger fans that are fascinated by forensic science. Writing a young adult novel seemed like a natural extension of what I do, so that I could bring my scientific expertise to a younger audience.

Do you think forensics is a good way to introduce kids to basic science principles?

Absolutely. Forensic science can be a gateway drug for a student's interest in hard science careers. What's important about forensics is that it combines scientific principles with the interesting premise of solving a crime. This duality can often pique a young person's interest, even one that would not usually consider simple scientific experiments interesting. Forensic science classes may be the best way to increase the profile of the hard sciences in our schools.

Tell us some more about Virals?

Tory and her small group of brainiac friends are living an isolated lifestyle on one of Charleston's barrier islands when their lives are turned upside down. After rescuing a dog scheduled for termination at a prestigious veterinary institution, Tory and her friends fall sick from a mysterious virus, and, upon recovery, realize that they've been changed, down to their DNA. The group has developed super-sensory powers. In Virals, the group tries to understand and control these new abilities while caught up in the investigation of a cold case murder.
Sounds like Tory could be a 21st-century forensic Nancy Drew.

I like to think so, although Tory has a bit of an edge with her new-founded capabilities! Tory is brilliant, precocious, and loyal. She's a true prodigy, with all the intellectual firepower of her great Aunt Tempe, but at heart she's still a 14-year-old girl. When I envisioned Tory, I saw a combination of traits from the Tempe character in my novels and the one on the TV show Bones. I'm careful to keep Tory as human as possible, however. I don't want her to be impossibly perfect as a teenage. Special, certainly, but Tory has issues and flaws just like the rest of us. It's how she overcomes those problems hat sets her apart as someone to be admired.

Was it hard to create characters who teens could identify with?

I enjoyed exploring the world of teenage interactions, something I've not done in the Temperance Brennan novels. Younger characters face an entirely different set of problems, and those issues are no less daunting than the ones faced by adults. In some areas I relied heavily upon my son, who is 30 years younger and a bit more in tune with today's kids. But creating Virals was a novel and pleasurable experience. While I definitely changed how the main characters talk and interact with each other to keep the book age appropriate, I tried very hard not to change how I create a story. I think most of my adult readers will also enjoy Virals because it's not an attempt to write down to a younger level. It's simply a mystery novel with teenage protagonists. In the end, I think it worked out quite well.

Oh, can't wait for the next in this series.

1 comment:

Michael Offutt said...

Bones is an awesome series.