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Cornwell spoke at length with GA Voice about gay marriage, the presidential election, writing, and tolerance.


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In Cornwell made history by claiming to have solved the mystery of the Jack the Ripper murders from the s. The Jack the Ripper murders went unsolved for over years until Cornwell brought her inimitable investigative powers to bear on the case which allegedly proved that the perpetrator was lauded artist Walter Sickertsending shockwaves through the art world, although her methods have been criticized. Cornwell is also widely known for writing a popular series of crime novelsfeaturing the fictional heroine "Dr.

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Her crime novels are based on obsessive detail and gory research. But, as writer Patricia Cornwell tells Carole Cadwalladr, her own back story is one of the most frightening of all.

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B ad things happen to good people. Sometimes really bad things.

A lot. But then, it would be easy to treat Patricia Cornwell with a certain amount of italicised irony. She is all those things. A year-old blonde-coiffed action woman with a strong southern accent and a rapid-fire delivery who does our entire interview in a wetsuit — a clone of one Scarpetta wore in the books.

She is that rare mythical beast: a writer who makes money from books.

Writer patricia cornwell speaks out for gay marriage

Lots of money. She still drives a Ferrari and pilots a helicopter and lives comfortably in Boston with her wife, Staci Grubera Harvard neuroscientist. Think of her as an older, feistier American version of JK Rowling with a set of motorbike leathers. I come to understand the italics. Why the particular interest in psychopaths, I want to know.

Is it as a narrative device?

I grew up in such a frightening way. And then you get molested by a patrolman. He found a hole and he was just putting his finger through the hole when my brother rolled around on his bicycle. He was about to pull me into his car.

We found out later that he was a convicted paedophile. I would probably have ended up in one of the canals down there. I would probably be dead. Cornwell testified before a grand jury. It was there that Cornwell says her mother started unravelling. She suffered a psychotic episode and was detained in a psychiatric hospital.

Later, as a teenager, she suffered from severe anorexia.

Interview with patricia cornwell

In her fiction, she invented a new genre: she revelled in the gory details, but through Scarpetta she expounded them in a cool, precise, scientific way. She respected the victims.

And strove to bring them justice. In person, Cornwell has a similar openness and forthright demeanour. I do it in every book. We take things and filter it through us and it comes out in a different form. Through Scarpetta, Cornwell has confronted her fears and overcome them.

Patricia cornwell

A decade ago, she wrote a book in which she points the finger at Walter Sickert, a painter of the period. Knives, daggers and great curving swords are laid out across a table and Cornwell picks them up in turn to show them to me.

I experimented. She picks up a Victorian dagger from the table and demonstrates how Jack the Ripper might have cut open his victims.

She started out as a journalist, but when she chose to try her hand at crime writing, she decided to do her research. For most people, this might be a site visit and an interview, but Cornwell wanted to know exactly what the forensic scientists did and how they did it.

I honestly was so dumb, I thought when I got there I would do this for a few months and then write this great novel.

Well, I wrote one and nobody wanted it. I wrote a second and nobody wanted it. I wrote the third and nobody wanted it.

And then I went back to the newspaper to see if I could get a job. Like usual. Loser, loser, loser. I kept being told, nobody wants to read about laboratories or morgues.

And a woman who does it? No, thank you! Well, I guess that turned out not to be true. She sold the first one, Postmortem. And the rest is history, or at least CSI. Scarpetta was a pioneer.

Patricia cornwell: 'when i was outed as a lesbian, i didn't leave my house for a month - i was afraid, horrified and humiliated'

Now, in a neat turn of metafiction, the character grumbles her job has become harder because juries have watched too many TV shows. And poor Scarpetta has got so much baggage, it takes whole chapters to explain exactly who tried to kill her ly, and when. The research has got trickier, too, she says. I did a tour of a nuclear power plant to discuss how terrorists might take it over for Cause of Death.

Well, nobody is going to let me do that today.

Patricia cornwell: heart of darkness

They were showing me the plans. Cornwell distrusts the internet and she distrusts the state with our data. If you make it possible for someone to look at something, they will. What might seem like paranoia in someone else, is probably fairly sensible avoidance in her case. Even after she became successful and had put her past behind her, Cornwell seems to have been dogged by the kind of incidents that, if they turned up in a novel, would be frankly unbelievable.

More recently, after she launched the lawsuit against her ants, she found herself targeted by the FBI for political campaign finance fraud. Her action-woman persona is perhaps a statement of intent.

Guns, gay marriage and a real-life murder: the private live of thriller writer patricia cornwell

Her can-do, no-fears-will-hold-me-back attitude is probably not unrelated to the misery of her early childhood. Even without the paedophile and the abusive foster parent and the absent father and the mentally ill mother, it would have been difficult. My mom was divorced when nobody else was.

She took her under her wing when she was released from psychiatric hospital after being treated for anorexia, and encouraged her to try her hand at writing. But it was quite a journey, she says, coming from where she did, to coming to terms with her sexuality. You never heard anything about women being gay. It was only men. And they were paedophiles, of course. That was the mindset.

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But her strategy with this as with everything else has been to turn all setbacks to advantages. I was just lucky that I can take things that have been traumatic and use them as rocket fuel. I thought I was destined to be the biggest failure on the planet.

Not everything goes to plan in life. And Gawker may just have got it right. The Observer Patricia Cornwell. Carole Cadwalladr.

Photograph: Patrick Ecclesine. Sun 1 Nov Topics Patricia Cornwell The Observer features. Reuse this content.