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Patricia Cornwell          

Popular crime writer, known for featured heroine Dr. Kay Scarpetta

Her father was an appellate attorney, her mother a secretary. The parents divorced and Marilyn and the three children (Patricia and two brothers) moved to Montreat, North Carolina, when she was seven. Ruth and Billy Graham lived two miles down the road and it was Ruth Graham who once gave her a leather-bound journal and told her to write. She transferred from King College, Tennessee to Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. After graduating she married her former English professor (Charles Cornwell who is seventeen years her senior) and newly married she started as a reporter for the Charlotte Observer in 1979. Soon she became a police reporter and in 1984 she took a job in the Virginia medical examiner's office. For six years she worked at the morgue, first as a technical writer, then as a computer analyst. She also volunteered to be a city cop and got her first taste of community policing. In 1988 she decided she didn't want to be a preacher's wife and she and her husband divorced in 1989.

In 1983 Patricia Cornwell wrote A Time for Remembering (1983), a biography of Ruth Bell Graham, wife of the evangelist Billy Graham. This was her first book and it is hard to find in second-hand book shops (I've seen a less-than-perfect copy offered for $75). A new version: "Ruth, a Portrait: The Ruth Bell Graham Story" was published by Doubleday in September 1997. ISBN: 0385488793

Between 1984 and 1986, Cornwell wrote three novels based on her crime desk experience, but all were rejected. Disheartened, she wrote to Sara Ann Freed, an editor at Mysterious Press, the one publishing house that had softened its rejection with encouragement. Freed told her to dump the male detective who was then her central character. She suggested expanding Scarpetta, who in Cornwell's early works played only a minor role. And so in 1990 Patricia Cornwell got her first novel published, Postmortem (the first novel to win the Edgar, Creasy, Anthony and Macavity awards, as well as the French Prix du Roman d'Adventurei, in a single year). Scribner had acquired Postmortem in a two-book deal for less than $7.500 after several other houses had turned it down. After Postmortem had become a success, the price went up quite a bit. In March 1991 she signed a $385,000 deal for the paperback rights for Body of Evidence.

The six books, Patricia Cornwell did for Scribner, were all edited by Scribners executive editor, Susanne Kirk.

Patricia Cornwell now splits her time between Richmond, Virginia and Los Angeles. She has kept her link to Davidson College and sponsors scholarships to Davidson students with exceptional abilities in creative writing. In June 1996 her name came up in the wake of a bizarre real-life drama. A then 41 year old ex-FBI agent Eugene Bennett had repeatedly claimed that his ex-wife was a lesbian and that she had an affair with Patricia Cornwell in 1992 when the now 42 year old Marguerite Bennett worked as an instructor and hostage negotiator at FBI's Quantico facilities. Eugene Bennett did some rather bizarre things ending on June 23, 1996, when he took his wifes minister hostage and planted pipe bombs at the Northern Virginia Community College where Marguerite Bennett worked as a police lieutenant. For this he was found guilty of attempted murder (and several other accounts) by a jury on February 11, 1997, (despite an insanity claim) and recommended for 61 years in prison. On May 15 1997 he was sentenced to 23 years in prison..

On March 1 1996, 6 of Patricia Cornwell's books were on the USA Today list of the 25 most best-selling mystery books to date. 1. The Body Farm 2. From Potter's Field, 8 Postmortem, 14 Cruel & Unusual, 15 Body of Evidence, 24 All That Remains.

Several of her books are loosely based on real crimes in the Virginia area, such as the colonial parkway murders and the southside strangler.. See Paul Mones: Stalking Justice about the Southside Strangler. (Timothy W. Spencer was convicted of four murders committed during a three-month period (September - November 1987) while Spencer was living in a south Richmond halfway house after being released from prison. The victims were: Susan Tucker, 44, Debbie Dudley Davis, 35, Susan Elizabeth Hellams, 32, and Diane Cho, 15. Spencer was sentenced to death for each of these murders and died in the electric chair in 1994.)

In 1990, writer Patrica Cornwell earned $6000 for her first Dr. Kay Scarpetta mystery Postmortem. Now she has just signed a new contract worth $24 million with the publisher, G.P.Putnam, for three future Scarpetta mysteries. The deal, brokered by ICM(International Creative Management)'s Esther Newberg, includes hardcover and paperback books. It is for the North American rights; foreign sales mean more money. Putnam and Cornwell already have a two-book contract that pays $12 million for two Scarpetta mysteries, according to Cornwell. The first under that contract, Cause of Death, was published July 1996.

In 1996 the Putnam Berkley Group (with Phyllis Grann as CEO) managed to steal Patricia Cornwell away from Scribner, partly because she was unhappy about Scribner's timing of the release of The Body Farm. It clashed with Putnam's release of Clancy's Debt of Honor and thus probably prevented Patricia Cornwell from being first on the New York Times best-seller list. Cause of Death was published by Putnam in July 1996. The first non-Scarpetta mystery Hornet's Nest came out in January 1997. (Amazon books have a very good service, that can notify you automatically when new books pop up, but with best-selling authors the old rumour mill will beat it.)

News


Patricia Cornwell talks latest novel 'Depraved Heart' | On Air Videos ...

Patricia Cornwell talks latest novel 'Depraved Heart'. Oct. 23, 2015 - 4:38 - World's #1 bestselling crime writer continues the 'Scarpetta Series'. Fox Business  ...

Patricia Cornwell Inks Two-Book Deal | GalleyCat

Patricia Cornwell (GalleyCat) Author Patricia Cornwell (pictured, via) has landed a two-book deal with HarperCollins. Both titles continue the story of medical ...

Patricia Cornwell's 'Flesh and Blood,' and More - The New York Times

Here's a steamy romantic scene for you, right out of Patricia Cornwell's new thriller, FLESH AND BLOOD (Morrow, $28.99): “I trace the second cervical vertebra ...

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