Crime writer Kathy Reich tells us what?s on her mind -- We check in with the forensic anthropologist who inspired the ?'Bones?' series

By Gilbert Cruz
July 21, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

The best-selling crime writer and forensic anthropologist inspired Fox’s hit Bones. With her 9th book just out, she’s solving the mystery of…what to wear to the White House.

Bones is partly based on me and partly based on my books’ character. On TV, Temperance Brennan [played by Emily Deschanel] is a forensic anthropologist who writes books in her spare time about a fictional forensic anthropologist named… Kathy Reichs. You’ll see more about that in the upcoming season.

I was uncomfortable writing my first book. I didn’t talk about it at all with my colleagues [at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte]. If you write fiction in a science department, you’re a bit suspect. If you do it in an English department, you’re a hero. After the novel was published, my university was supportive. They gave me a sabbatical — which I’m still on nine years later.

I could do anything in the first book. I created the characters, chose the setting. In each one since, I have to reintroduce the characters in a new way for first-time readers without boring return readers.

I’ve seen a lot of violent deaths, and I’ve seen them in large numbers — I’ve excavated a mass grave in Guatemala and worked at Ground Zero. You have to stay objective, otherwise you can’t do your job. On the other hand, you never want to forget that these are human beings, not just piles of bones or bloated corpses out of a river. It’s the cases that aren’t solved that are hard to forget.

Because of the line of work I’m in and because I testify in court where defendants generally don’t like to hear what I’m saying, I prefer not to speak about my private life and my family. I have had death threats.

I’ve been invited to the White House in the fall for the National Book Festival. Ten of us in the mystery-thriller genre are invited to a black-tie event and a breakfast. Oh, my God. What am I going to wear? I’m not a shopper. I want to have the clothes, I just don’t want to have to go through the process of getting them.