Q&A With Lisa Black

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Q&A With Lisa Black 

Lisa Black is a New York Times Bestselling author of mystery thrillers and forensic scientist. Lisa’s novels are part of the Locard Institute & Gardiner & Renner series. What’s very impressive is that Lisa has appeared as a consultant for Court TV. 

Q: Lisa would you like to talk about your series Locard Institute & Gardiner & Renner books and where your ideas came from for the series?

A:There are 6 books in the Gardiner & Renner series. Maggie Gardiner is a forensic specialist for the Cleveland police department and Jack Renner is a homicide detective with a sideline—taking out the worst of the worst of the city’s criminals. Everything is going well for him until Maggie picks up on his trail—then he has quite the moral dilemma. The series came about because the series before that was running into a snag, and in disgust I threw it aside and wrote what became the first chapter of the first book. I sent it to my agent, and she said, “I love it. Write the rest of it.” Which was nice, except I had no idea what was going to happen after that. 

The Locard Institute is the foremost forensic institute in the country, dedicated to research, training (mostly of law enforcement personnel, but not necessarily) and private cases. The assistant director is former pathologist Rachael Davies, and her new staff member is former FBI evidence team member Ellie Carr. My publisher wanted ‘a jet-setting pathologist’ and so, for the first time, I planned the setting and the characters to sustain a series. 

Q: Are you currently writing the next book in Locard Institute &/or Gardiner & Renner or is it a completely different series or standalone book?

A: The third Locard book will be out next February. I’m working on the fourth right now. 

Q: Would you say your career in forensics helped you in your writing career?

A: Yes, absolutely. I sold my first book in 2004, at the height of the CSI craze, when everyone was looking for the next Patricia Cornwell. 

Q: What advice would you give anyone wanting to pursue a career in writing or forensics?

A: Well, very different advice! For forensics, get into a school that has plenty of hands-on and lab work, then try to get an internship at a local agency. For writing, read the best writers who write the kind of stuff you want to write. A good critique group is a huge help too. 

Q: If you were to write outside of the mystery thriller genre, which genres would you choose and why?

A:Horror. I’d love to write a fabulous haunted house story, but I think if I did, it would just be a rehash of every bad haunted house movie ever. 

Q: Who would you cast to play the characters you created? Do you also use bits and pieces of real people to create the characters in your books?

A: I don’t use real people (with one exception in the Gardiner & Renner series, I made a coworker into the DNA analyst, which my coworker thought was hilarious) but I do poach actors for characters all the time. I don’t mean to, it’s just who I picture when I’m writing. I also find myself using my relative’s homes, because I have to have a concrete picture of the physical location in mind. 

For Gardiner & Renner, I wanted Tatiana Maslany and Ray Stevenson. 

For the Locard Institute, I would like Gabrielle Union, still stunning but old enough to have the gravity Rachael needs. I’m not sure about Ellie…maybe Tatiana again. And I’d love Anya Taylor-Joy for precise and a little intimidating digital forensics expert Agnes.  

Q: What is it like being a consultant on Court TV? My grandmother loves watching Court TV and is a huge fan of Vinnie Politan. What is Vinnie like?

A: Very nice. And I appreciate that he’s helping to keep these very cold cases alive, hoping someone might call in with new information. But you don’t get any warning about what he’s going to ask you, so it was difficult to sound intelligent!!