How's this for meta? Kathy Reichs created the character of Temperance Brennan based on her own life as a forensic anthropologist who writes mystery novels based on her work experiences. Reichs' books have been turned into Fox's popular Bones, and now she is going to be appearing on an upcoming episode of the drama playing... a forensic anthropologist. Phew. With all of that cleared up, TVGuide.com chatted with the best-selling novelist about her upcoming guest stint and whether she has any "bones" to pick with TV procedurals.
TVGuide.com: You just filmed a guest appearance on Bones, set to air in December. Are you alive or dead on the show?
Kathy Reichs: Oh, I'm alive.
TVGuide.com: I hope they gave you some lines.
Reichs: They did I even got three!
TVGuide.com: Were you nervous?
Reichs: I do a lot of public speaking, so no, I wasn't. The only thing I was worried about was if my hair would look OK. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Are you playing one of Brennan's rival authors?
Reichs: I am playing a forensic anthropologist who is a member of Zach Addy's dissertation committee. It's the scene where he is defending his thesis in front of the committee, and we are a stern and dour group.
TVGuide.com: Had they been trying to work you into the show for a while?
Reichs: Yeah, we'd been talking about it and [executive producer] Hart [Hanson] said, "How about I write a part in for you?" I wasn't that wild to do it, but then he said, "David Duchovny is directing the episode." I said, "OK, I'm there."
TVGuide.com: How have you been enjoying Bones?
Reichs: I love it! I read every script, and it is always fun for me when I then see it on TV. I enjoy seeing how it translates from what I saw on paper.
TVGuide.com: Is it surreal to be reading and watching a show about characters that you created?
Reichs: It is a little odd because it is based partly on me and partly on the books. [Laughs] Emily [Deschanel] does such a good job, though. At first it was a little interesting....
TVGuide.com: TV's Tempe is very different than the books' Tempe.
Reichs: She is. I think of her as being at a younger point in her life. Like a prequel, "Tempe, The Early Years." There is no daughter, she's thirtysomething instead of fortysomething, she's less sophisticated, her people skills clearly need some work.... And she's in Washington, which I find particularly appropriate because I started my career at the Smithsonian. It was the first place I ever handled a skeleton.
TVGuide.com: When you are reading the scripts, is there anything you find unbelievable forensics-wise?
Reichs: Occasionally I'll say, "What?" You can't just cut a piece of bone and determine the age under the microscope. You have to make a slide.
TVGuide.com: Is there a real person like Angela out there? Because her job seems pretty high-tech.
Reichs: That technology exists, and there are people like Angela who do graphics and amazing things with graphics. Now, does any average lab have that technology? No. It is pretty unusual.
TVGuide.com: Are you working on another book?
Reichs: I am. It will be out next summer and is called Bones to Ashes.
TVGuide.com: How do you feel about the spin-off books by Max Collins that are based on the TV show?
Reichs: It was an experiment. They are very different and written in a third-person voice, and they utilize the characters from the show, rather than the characters in my book. I gave permission for them, and I'm OK with them, as long as it's very clear that they're written by another author and not by me.
TVGuide.com: What do you think is the appeal of Temperance Brennan and Bones?
Reichs: She is not just another CSI heroine character. In my book, she's a complex character, and it may take a little while to get to know her. She's got issues she should be working on, but she's so compassionate about her work that she just doesn't pay attention to things going on in the world around her. She tends to be oblivious to popular culture, but a little more about her comes out in every episode.
TVGuide.com: Oftentimes, the forensic anthropology on this show gets a little gross. Is there anything that makes you squeamish?
Reichs: Well, there are some things I like less than others. Like those little jumping maggots are not my favorites; they always hop around while I'm working. But it is part of my job, and I'm used to it.
TVGuide.com: Do you get a lot of people you work with trying to figure out if they are characters in the book?
Reichs: Yes. That part [of the show] is real. I think Hart [Hanson] said that they'd be bringing out the novel aspect of what Tempe does in upcoming episodes.
TVGuide.com: Are people hesitant to say things around you now?
Reichs: Oh, I don't think so. It is more like, "Why wasn't I in the book? What's wrong with me?" Or they'll drop by and ask if I need any help on anything. I think they really get a kick out of it, at least at my lab.
TVGuide.com: Do you watch any other procedural shows?
Reichs: It's hard to find the time for watching television with the pace I'm on. Cold Case is a particularly good one. But I have trouble watching the CSI shows, because if the science is inaccurate, it interferes with my viewing.
Procedurals fans, the Nov. 13 issue of TV Guide has exclusive scoop on CSI: Miami as well as Criminal Minds.
Send your comments on this Q&A to email@example.com.