Val McDermid, the Scottish crime writer of more than 30 novels, has written a nonfiction book on the history of forensic science, Forensics: The Anatomy of a Crime.
From her Q & A about the book with Linda Geddes for NewScientist, republished in Slate:
How has forensic science influenced your writing up until now?--Marshal Zeringue
It helps me to anchor my books in the real world. Everybody knows crimes don't get solved the way we write about them in crime fiction; it's not one grumpy inspector and a sergeant buying the pints. But anything I can do to bolster your suspension of disbelief is valuable. If I tell you the truth about the science, it helps make you think I must be telling the truth about all the stuff I'm making up.
Where do your story ideas come from?
It's things that make me go “wow.” For instance, I once rang up the forensic anthropologist Sue Black at the University of Dundee because I wanted to know what your tattoos would look like if you'd been submerged in a bog for 200 years. She said that when you get a tattoo, the nearest lymph nodes take up the ink. It occurred to me that if the tattoo was made after death, there wouldn't be any staining on the lymph nodes: I had a starting point for...[read on]