Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

I'm Not Going to Spend a Million Dollars on a Ring. I'd Rather Have a Helicopter; Thriller Writer Patricia Cornwell Talks to HANNAH STEPHENSON about Plastic Surgery, Her Own Life Dramas and Turning 60

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

I'm Not Going to Spend a Million Dollars on a Ring. I'd Rather Have a Helicopter; Thriller Writer Patricia Cornwell Talks to HANNAH STEPHENSON about Plastic Surgery, Her Own Life Dramas and Turning 60

Article excerpt

Byline: HANNAH STEPHENSON

BLONDE, blue-eyed and toned, thanks to a strict exercise regime, Patricia Cornwell looks much younger than her 60 years. As one of the world's bestselling crime writers, with novels translated into 36 languages in more than 120 countries, staying fit has helped her master the skills she writes about in her novels featuring forensic sleuth Dr Kay Scarpetta.

Patricia learned how to fly helicopters because Lucy, Scarpetta's tech-savvy niece, is a qualified helicopter pilot. The author is also a competent scuba diver, has been on firing ranges to try out the latest weaponry used by her imaginary killers, and has learned more skills - but I'm not going to give the game away - for her latest novel, Chaos.

It's the 24th book in the series and revolves around the death of a 26-year-old cyclist. At first, it looks like she was killed after being struck by lightning - but, of course, things are not what they seem and the investigation becomes more complex when Scarpetta receives a flurry of bizarre poems from an anonymous cyber bully.

Readers who love forensic thrillers should be familiar with Patricia's work - fast-paced, sometimes gory, always enlightening, and frequently featuring cutting-edge technologies enabling her fictional killers - and crime-busters - to do what they do.

"My stock in trade has always been to show the technical side of how you can work very unusual crimes," says the writer. "Just as good guys can be innovative with the use of technology in solving crimes, bad people are going to be just as innovative in what they can do with technology to cause bad things to happen."

Patricia's spent millions of dollars on meticulous research for both her fiction and fact-based work. She wrote a book on Jack the Ripper - Portrait Of A Killer - pointing the finger at renowned British Victorian painter Walter Sickert, spending millions of dollars buying his writing desk and 32 of his paintings to have them tested for DNA.

"I've spent more on my research and the materials that go with it than I've ever spent on clothing and jewellery, but that doesn't mean I don't have really nice clothing and jewellery," she says wryly.

"But I'm not going to spend a million dollars on a ring. I'd rather have a helicopter. I've owned four helicopters but they were used in my research, to write with authority about that particular subject, as opposed to having a 60 million dollar beach hut somewhere. But we all know I'm not thrifty."

The Miami-born author's own life has seen almost as much drama as her books. …

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