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Books by Jefferson Bass are shown on the left. Click on the cover to order.
Nancy Eaton did this interview with Jefferson Bass on April 16, 2010.
Recently I have read several news stories about patients being given bone transplants from corpse snatchers. Is this where you got the idea for The Bone Thief?
Dr. Bill Bass has consulted on several cases in which people suspected that parts of their deceased loved ones had been stolen before the bodies were cremated. That was one source of the idea; another was a shocking nonfiction book, Body Brokers, which recounted a number of such incidents in great detail.
Are any of the characters in The Bone Thief based on anyone you know?
Of course! Actually, several characters in the book are real-life people who appear under their own names (with their permission) in the book: fingerprint expert Art Bohanan is a real person (and a nationally renowned authority on fingerprints); Helen Taylor actually does run East Tennessee Cremation Services.
Do you have another book on the backburner?
We hope itís on the front burner: the manuscript is due to HarperCollins this summer! Itís called The Bone Yard.
What is the best and worst part of being a writer?
The best is talking with readers who have really taken a shine to these books and these characters. The worst ? It varies. Sometimes itís the deadlines; sometimes itís the terror of those 350 blank pages at the beginning of writing.
Do you work together on creating characters or is one person responsible for this role?
We bounce ideas back and forth, but most of the detailed work of developing the plot and characters falls to Jon. All of the forensic-anthroplogy expertise comes from Bill.
Why did you choose to write this particular book?
For one thing, weíd left one of our characters Ė medical examiner Eddie Garcia Ė in terrible shape at the end of the last book. Having destroyed his hands in the last book, we felt we should do what we could for him in this book. Once we started thinking about rebuilding or replacing hands, a lot of the other things in this book Ė plot points and bioethics revolving around organ transplants, tissue transplants, and so forth Ė seemed natural things to weave into the story.
The Bone Thief (or any body farm book in the series) would make a great movie. What are your feelings about this?
Our feeling is that we wish you ran a big Hollywood studio! We actually were very close to a deal for a dramatic television series a few years ago, but just as we were about to sign a contract, the writersí strike hit, and by the time it was settled (months later), the project had lost its momentum. But a TV series or a flim is still a great idea, and somebody in Hollywood will get behind it at some point.
Which of your books is your favorite?
Billís favorite is Deathís Acre, our first nonfiction book, as it recounts his career and some of his most interesting real-life cases. Jonís favorite? It varies from day to day.
Which of your characters is your favorite?
Billís especially fond of an East Tennessee mountain man named Waylon; Jonís mighty partial to two characters: the old woman Beatrice, in Bones of Betrayal, whose memories of the atomic-bomb project play a big role in the story; and Miss Georgia Youngblood, the African American drag queen in Flesh and Bone.
Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers?
Keep reading Ė not just our books, but all sorts of books. And thank you, thank you, thank you!