Book Talk: Cornwell celebrates 20 years with Kay Scarpetta

Wed Dec 24, 2008 10:28am EST
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By Belinda Goldsmith

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - After 20 years of creating forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta, crime writer Patricia Cornwell has nothing but respect for the character who has also changed and shaped her.

Her latest novel, "Scarpetta," is Cornwell's 16th novel featuring the popular character and her 27th book with her list of works including a controversial expose on the identity of Jack the Ripper.

Cornwell, 52, began her career as a police reporter on a local U.S. newspaper but learned about forensics and morgues while working for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia from 1984 to 1990.

Her first Scarpetta novel, "Postmortem," came out in 1990.

She spoke to Reuters about writing and Scarpetta:

Q: The title "Scarpetta" sounds very final. Is it?

A: "Actually it is the opposite of that. When I was in the early stages of the book and struggling with it, it dawned on me that in 1988 I wrote "Postmortem" -- it has been 20 years since I created this character. That led me to take everything into perspective and I realized that the best thing I do is her, this character, so this should be a celebration of this lady.

Q: So we can expect more Scarpetta books?   Continued...

<p>Pictured is best-selling crime writer Patricia Cornwell, the creator of the popular forensic pathologist character Kay Scarpetta, in this undated handout. REUTERS/CEI/Handout</p>