The evolution of a writer

Those of you who are familiar with the grit and gore of my crime novels may be surprised to discover my secret past … as a romance author. I was first introduced to romances while I was working as a doctor, a high-stress job where, too often, I dealt with loss and grief-stricken families. At the end of the day, I needed to open a book where I’d find both entertainment and a happy ending — and I found both in romance novels. I became hooked on them, sometimes reading half a dozen a week despite my grueling schedule in the hospital.

It’s no surprise that the first novel I wrote was a romance.

In 1987, CALL AFTER MIDNIGHT was bought by Harlequin Intrigue. My editor called to ask: “Do you remember how many people you killed in this story? We had an editorial meeting, and we counted thirteen bodies!” That was a record for Harlequin, but they published the novel anyway — and my career as a novelist was launched.

With that staggering body count, I should have realized that I was destined to be thriller author. But I stayed with the romance genre, eventually selling nine novels in which both love and mystery were intertwined. Those books are an historical record of my development as an author, and even though they are indeed romances, with every book you can see me learning to stretch my writing wings and explore new subjects.

One of those early novels was PEGGY SUE GOT MURDERED. The grittiest of my romances, it featured a tough-talking female medical examiner (no, she’s not Maura Isles!) whose morgue is suddenly overwhelmed with dead bodies. They appear to be drug OD victims, but it’s a drug no one has ever seen before. Yes, it’s a romance, but it’s also the first book in which I explore forensic pathology and medical examiners.

Now, 20 years after its first publication, an updated version is about to be re-released, under a new title: GIRL MISSING. If you’ve ever wanted to take a peek at my early books, here’s your chance!

7 replies
  1. Jude Hardin
    Jude Hardin says:

    Congrats on the re-release, Tess!

    I noticed that it’s being published by Random House this time. Any plans for future re-releases of you Harlequin backlist?

  2. Tess
    Tess says:

    Hi Jude and ScotsAli, nice to see you both here!

    The book is available already in the UK (released under the same title). And Jude, the reason this is coming out from Random House is that they bought the rights from Harper, which was the original publisher.

    My Harlequin backlist still pops up in bookstores every so often (I can’t keep track of their schedule), but most of them are also available in Kindle.

  3. Danyul
    Danyul says:

    For the first time ever I have had to put down a book without finishing it. I feel conned. Stolen is a total misrepresentation. Surely you realise this?

  4. bluecat840
    bluecat840 says:

    Just wanted to let you know I really enjoy your books. Have only been reading them for a brief time, but I am hooked. Looking forward to the release/or re-re;ease of Peggy Sue Got Married (Girl Missing), love the forensic, light romance and just plain page turners your books seem to be. I usually can’t put them down till I turn the last page.HAAHAHAHA!! Thanks for such good and entertaining books to read…even though there are many dead bodies………

  5. granca
    granca says:

    only recently learnt of you. have read two of your books: Harvest and Life Support which I enjoyed very much. It would be of enormous support if you could include a kind of glossary where you give meanings to all the medical terms you use.

  6. nicolai1951
    nicolai1951 says:

    I just discovered you, Tess ! I loved DIE AGAIN and can’t wait to read every book you’ve written!

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