Monday, August 27, 2007

Radar Books: Body of Evidence

I found out this year, when trying to replace a lost copy, that the first novel, Body Bags, in my FAVORITE paperback series went out of print. I don't know when exactly that happened, but it wasn't so long ago that the whole series had reawakened with new titles. At the moment, World Cat says that supposedly 186 libraries have the title on the shelf, and Amazon has 27 copies for sale.

This has bothered me for a lot of reasons, among them is just that I think that the series is well written and overcomes both the fact that it's solidly a genre piece and that it was only ever published in paperback, especially after seeing the reasonable success of Alane Ferguson's Forensic Mystery series. But, the first in the series? Why on earth should THAT be the one to go out of print? How can I give the dern series out without the first title?

So when Colleen came up with the Recommendations from Under the Radar idea, well, Little Willow and I had the same idea: Body of Evidence. And that led the two of us into a conversation, of sorts, about this series we think should get LOTS more attention (Personally, I think it would fill a hole left in my heart by the demise of Veronica Mars. Let's see it on TV!!). LW's got more to say about the series over on her site, but here's our little chat, with a special bit tagged on in the end:

Favorite main character?
LW: Jenna!
Jackie: No choice.

Favorite supporting character?
LW: I'd love to list all of them. Slick is smart, Al
is sweet, Melody, Hunter, Danny . . .
Jackie: Oh, Danny. Definitely Danny. But the great
thing about this series is that ALL of the supporting
characters are fully presented. You kinda like them
LW: Agreed.

Favorite book in the series?
LW: Body Bags, then Thief of Hearts and Skin Deep.
Jackie: Soul Survivor, I think. It's a hard question.
Maybe Last Breath.

Why did you pick them up?
LW: I started working for Christopher Golden in 1998.
I redesigned his website, then started maintaining the
site and doing online publicity for his books. Thus, I
was there when Body Bags was in the works, and I was
beyond thrilled that he was finally writing books for
the teen fiction section. Ask Chris. When he told me
he was writing a new series that was about murder,
forensics, and college, I pretty much screamed.

Jackie: I was in Library School and my YA Lit
professor, Holly Ward-Lamb (who is magnificently
awesome, BTW), required us to read one book from a
paperback series. She was very concerned that her
students didn't get elitist about literature, and that
we read at least SOME of what the kids actually read,
so I tried Body Bags upon her recommendation. I was

Why did you keep reading the series?
LW: Because Golden Books are the Best Ever. Truly. I
was a reader before I was a friend of his. That is how
I came to know him. I admire his writing. The entire
Body of Evidence series is well-plotted and
well-written. Each book stands alone, yet is part of
the bigger picture -- just as a series should be!

Jackie: Because they are Freakin' Awesome. And I say
that as a person who has never met or received
monetary compensation from the author. ;)

LW: Hey, now. I'm not partial or anything. :)

Had you read Christopher Golden books before?
LW: Yes, since 1997. See above.
Jackie: Nope. Body Bags was the first.
LW: I hadn't read Rick Hautala's books before he
joined the series. I then read his novel The White
Room, which was written under the pseudonym A. J.

Do you like murder mysteries?
LW: Yes! I love mysteries when they are done well. I
also love procedural television series like Law &
Order: Special Victims Unit. To quote one of my
current stage roles, "What I say is, let justice be

Jackie: Nope. They are usually WAY too predictable and
repetitive. What? The bad guy lost? Shocking. (Not
that I'd have it any other way.)

Do the books feel accurate?
LW: Definitely. The research is evident.
Jackie: Beats me. I'm not a Science Nerdfighter. But from a literature
standpoint, everything hung together.

The books get pretty gruesome, what with the
autopsies and the murders. Do you have a strong

LW: Yes.
Jackie: Ironclad.

Did you read the series in order?
LW: Yes.
Jackie: Blasphemy. As if there's another way.
(LW cheers. She obviously feels the same.)

Does the series feel like it's done?
LW: No! It should never be over!
(LW is in denial.)
Jackie: Not really. I think that Jenna's a character
that could always be picked up again, even 10 years
later. She's strong enough that her story will always
be interesting.

If more books were written and released, would you
read them?
LW: Yes, immediately.
Jackie: What she said.

Are there more stories to tell?
LW: I think so. I think Jenna has a promising future
in front of her.
Jackie: Uh, what I said.

And then, unbeknown to Jackie, Little Willow took it upon herself to ask some questions of the creator himself, Christopher Golden.

Favorite main character?

CG: Jenna, of course!

Favorite supporting character?

CG: Slick. I love them all, but Slick is so much fun to

Favorite book in the series?

CG: Probably Thief of Hearts, though I'm also quite
partial to Last Breath and Skin Deep.

What inspired the series?

CG: My editor at the time called me up and said, "Three
words: Scully in college." I took it from there.

What prompted you to (FINALLY!) write a teen
fiction series?

CG: I'd actually written two YA horror novels in the mid
nineties. They were fairly mediocre, but I'd always
wanted to do it again. I like to think I have a
fairly decent handle still on what it felt like to be
in high school.

When and how did Rick Hautala come on board?

CG: I'd agreed to write a second series for Pocket and thought it would be easier--and energizing--to collaborate with someone on the series. I'd known Rick for many years, since before I wrote my first novel, and I think we gelled really well. Though his name isn't on the cover, the first book he co-wrote with me was SKIN DEEP. They'd already done the cover before he came on board, believe it or not.

How much research did you do to ensure the stories'

CG: I talked to everyone. Doctors, medical examiners, FBI, Coast Guard, name it, I talked to them. Where the weird science was concerned, I let myself improvise. But most of the real medical stuff comes directly from first hand conversations.

Would you ever write more BoE books?

CG: In a heartbeat. I'm just waiting for the

Are there more stories to tell?

CG: Thousands.

For more Radar Recs, via Chasing Ray:

Colleen's happily posting about a wicked-good looking title called Dorothy of Oz (coincidentally? I'm listening to Wicked right now).
Finding Wonderland loves The Curved Saber: The Adventure of Khlit the Cossack by Harold Lamb
Not Your Mother's Bookclub: An interview with Robert Sharenow, author of My Mother the Cheerleader
lectitans: The Angel of the Opera: Sherlock Meets the Phantom of the Opera by Sam Siciliano
Bookshelves of Doom: The God Beneathe the Sea, Black Jack & Jack Holburn all by Leon Garfield
Writing and Ruminating: An interview with Tony Mitton and a review of his book, Plum
The YA YA YAs: I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade by Diane Lee Wilson
Chicken Spaghetti: The Illustrator's Notebook by Mohieddin Ellabad
SemiColon: Sherry is talking picture books that should not be missed, including the lovely Nothing To Do by Russell Hoban.


Anonymous said...

That was fun to read.

I'm intrigued -- not to mention, if I don't read a Christopher Golden book one day, Little Willow may stop speaking to me!

Thanks . . .

tanita✿davis said...

You two!!

And yes -- I'm beginning to feel the paint blistering off the side of my house as LW glares at me...

Seriously - just reading a tidbit of the first book in the series (which I am SERIOUSLY ANNOYED is out of PRINT!? What's up with THAT!?) I know I want to read it -- I'm stocking up on train reading, grrls!

Great Recommendation!

Anonymous said...

Dang, I forgot about that series. I really liked it and know I don't know how many I read.....I'll have to go back to the beginning!

Erin said...

Ahhhh!!! Oh my goodness! You've just reminded me I got the paperback from the library - is it still in the basement where I left it? - must check - aahhhhhh.

Anonymous said...

Great post!

I always wanted Jenna to get together with Detective Danny... I like your 10 years later idea, Jackie.

Little Willow said...

Apparently, my comment from yesterday was eaten by dingoes.

Jules, Miss Erin, and TadMack, I know that one person's treasure is another person's displeasure. I do honestly feel as though there's something in the Golden library for everyone, and I appreciate you all giving him a chance!

Jules, I would never do that. :)

Miss Erin, get out of the basement! I'm having Thief of Hearts flashbacks to bad things happening in odd rooms!

TadMack, the fact that BoE is OOP makes me so very SAD.

Unknown said...

omg I love the body of evidence books!!!! I hope Christopher Golden writes more soon!

Anonymous said...

I read the exact same book for Holly's class for the same assignment and feel the exact same way about it (and the series)! And I thought I was alone out there... Thanks for sharing.

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