Tess Gerritsen

Introducing Tess Gerritsen and her new novel Playing With Fire

Hello lovelies! I hope you are all having a good start to the week. If not I hope this distracts you if even for a short while!  Make a brew, sit back and enjoy.

A few months back, August 10th to be exact - not that I've got the date embedded in my brain :) - a lovely man from Transworld Publishers got in touch to ask if we would be interested in reviewing Tess Gerritsen's new novel 'Playing With Fire.' Well you can just imagine my reaction. Firstly sheer disbelief. Someone at Transworld (the very publishing house I aspire to work with) had bothered to contact little old me. Me!? And secondly. TESS GERRITSEN!? It was a no brainer. My good friend (Murphy's Mother) literally leapt at the chance to get her hands on Tess' new book. As you may remember she is a HUGE fan. She previously read and reviewed Die Again. Click here if you missed it. Where was I? Oh yes. Transworld. So somehow we put our heads together and managed to send a calm and professional sounding email in response. 
'Hi Stuart. It would be a pleasure to read and review Tess' new novel...'
Alas if only he had seen us that day. We were anything but calm.
The beautiful proof copy, which arrived soon after, only heightened our excitement and MM set about reading it immediately. I, being a huge Rizzoli and Isles fan decided to contact Tess directly to see if she'd fancy answering a few questions. To be honest I didn't really expect to get a reply. Tess is so incredibly busy I just thought I'd put it out there on the off chance and leave it at that. But she did reply. And not only that but she said yes! I hope you enjoy this one!

Without further ado, here is MM's review of 'Playing With Fire.' 

Dear Fellow Readers

I'm so excited to be able to review 'Playing with Fire' by Tess Gerristen today. Girlgonedreamer and I were asked to read and review this by Transworld Publishers so you can imagine my excitement being a huge Tess Gerristen fan and this book certainly doesn't disappointment. It was such an honour and I still find it hard to believe we were asked do this.

This is a stand alone novel separate from the Rizzoli and Isles series that I adore but is just as captivating.

Julia doesn't understand what is happening to her daughter, but she thinks she knows what's causing it. She is terrified for Lily and for herself, but what scares her more is that no one believes her.

If she is going to help Lily, she will have to find the answers alone, embarking on a search that will take her to the shadowy back streets of Venice.

There Julia uncovers a heart breaking, long buried tale of tragedy and devastation - a discovery that puts her in serious danger. Some people will do anything in their power to keep the truth silent...

This novel had me hooked from the beginning, this is a story of a violinist who's world is turned upside down after buying a book containing a piece of music she finds in a strange antique shop while in Rome.

This book looks deep into history and is told from two points of view with Julia's being told in the present in America and Lorenzo's story is in the third person and takes place in Italy during the war.

If I'm honest this type of book doesn't usually entice me as it can be confusing jumping between two different timelines, however Tess pulls if off so well. The story is told with such conviction and attention to detail that everything made sense and came together seamlessly.

The story centres around the music "The Incendio Waltz", the instruments used to play it and how this affects the characters that are drawn to it.

This is my favourite book this year as it's beautifully written and expertly researched. This is an amazingly moving story of family, music, tragedy and love.

Well done Tess you did it again

Until next time MM xxx

So now you know a little about the novel. Let's see how my chat went with the lady herself. Tess Gerritsen everyone...

Hi Tess. Firstly thank you for allowing me this opportunity to ask a few questions. I am a HUGE Rizzoli and Isles fan! (As is my mother!)

Justine, nice to chat with you! 

Playing With Fire is very much a standalone novel compared to your others. What inspired you?

Yes, PLAYING WITH FIRE is a different project for me -- one that I feel was given to me by some strange force in the Universe. I got the idea from a nightmare while I was in Venice. I dreamt I was playing my violin while a baby sat nearby.  While I didn't know the music at the time, I knew it was strange and disturbing, and the baby morphed into a monster.

I woke up with the certainty that this was a story -- something about the power of music to transform lives.  That same day, I wandered into the Jewish quarter in Venice, saw the memorials to the 246 Jews who were deported to death camps in WWII, and the rest of the story just crystallized.  All at once.  As if a voice had whispered: "You have to write this."

About halfway through writing the book, the melody of "Incendio" came to me in a dream.  I composed the entire piece in about 6 weeks, and it's been recorded by violinist Yi-Jia Susanne Hou.  (Susanne also contributed the frenzied 1-minute violin solo toward the end.) 

I think it's pretty widely known that you began writing fiction whilst on maternity leave from medicine.
When did you know you were a writer or have you always had the desire to write? And why crime fiction?

It was at age seven. That's when I wrote my first "book."  But my dad told me writing wasn't a secure profession, and steered me into science, and medical school.  I think I chose crime because of a childhood love of Nancy Drew books, and because the dark side has always fascinated me.  Probably because my Mom loved horror films, and dragged me to every scary film Hollywood ever made. 

If life had worked out differently, if you hadn't become a doctor or writer, what do you think you'd be doing instead?

If I hadn't become a doctor, I think I would have become a journalist.  Or an archaeologist.  Or -- well, who knows?  

Where do you get your ideas from?

My ideas come from everywhere.  Mostly, it's because I'm curious about a lot of things.  I think that's a common trait among writers: we're curious.  And because we delve into different topics, we get ideas for books.

Totally relate to that. What are you currently reading?

A HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN SIX GLASSES by Tom Standage.  About how coffee, tea, booze, etc has changed history.

For the aspiring writers out there (myself included) what's the best piece of writing advice you've ever been given?

Allow yourself to write badly.  Turn off the internal editor. You can always fix it later.

Lastly, and this is one question I love to ask all writers... Which book has had the most impact on you or your life? 

I can't name just one.  But I know that the Nancy Drew books, Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes series, and JRR Tolkien were all big influences on me as a young reader.

Great answers. Thankyou Tess!

Thanks for reviewing PLAYING WITH FIRE.  And please do have a listen to the music.  Even after writing 26 books, I have to say that composing a classical piece of music is one of the highlights of my creative life.

Tess kindly sent me the link so I could listen to the whole of "Incendio" which I can only describe as hauntingly beautiful. Just listening to it filled me with so many different emotions. The soulful notes literally scream of a tragic love story. To listen to a sample of "Incendio" click here.

*Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen is also a physician, and she brings to her novels her first-hand knowledge of emergency and autopsy rooms. Her thrillers starring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the hit TV series Rizzoli & Isles which averages 6.5 million viewers every week in the US and was launched in the UK by Alibi TV. Her books have sold over 40 million copies worldwide and her last thriller Die Again was a top 10 Sunday Times bestseller in the UK.

Playing With Fire (Published in hardback by Bantam Press) is available in the UK from 5th November. Click here to visit Amazon. Click here for more on PWF and Tess.


Huge thanks to Tess for taking the time out to chat with me. I hope you all enjoyed the read. Thanks also go to Murphy's Mother for another brilliant review. And lastly I should thank Stuart Martin at Transworld Publishers, for contacting me in the first place and giving myself and MM this fantastic opportunity.

To all my lovely readers, another 'Instagram Favourites' post tomorrow. This weeks theme is Inspiration. Until then...

Lots of love

Justine xxx

Photo of Murphy with book taken by MM
Cover image taken from www.amazon.co.uk
Author photo by Jacob Gerritsen taken from www.randomhouse.com.au
Press release praise image - sent from Transworld Publishers 
*Text from press release - again kindly sent from Transworld Publishers


  1. Wonderful post hun. Loved the interview, and am definitely going to have a nose at Tess' new book! Well done you and MM :) xx

    1. Awww thanks Aimee. Always nice to hear positive feedback. Enjoy the book! Xx


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