Reichs spreads ‘Virals’ to younger readers
Kathy and Brendan Reichs signing for Code
7 p.m. March 15
The Book Stall, 811 Elm St., Winnetka
Updated: March 14, 2013 11:02AM
Young adult readers are getting a taste of science, action and crime-solving courtesy of forensic anthropologist and author Kathy Reichs.
The creator of the Temperance Brennan book series (on which the Fox TV show, Bones, is based) is releasing the third book in the Virals series, which she co-writes with her son, Brendan.
“(Virals) was actually my son’s idea,” Reichs said. “He was approached by someone who worked at a publishing house, he brought it to me. He was practicing law at the time, not enjoying it and was looking into an alternate career path.”
Reichs liked the book idea and the mother-son team ended up signing a five-book deal with the Penguin Group publishing house.
“The rest is history,” she said.
Virals centers around a group of four teenagers, including 14-year-old Tory Brennan, the niece of Temperance Brennan.
“They are science geeks not the cool kids at school,” Reichs said. “They use forensics that kids can understand to solve cold cases and mysteries.”
The teens also all possess certain canine abilities inherited when their DNA became altered by a rare strain of parvovirus after saving a puppy who was undergoing experimentation. The third and latest book in the Virals series, Code, has the group finding hidden geocaches and a bomb threat from someone named “The Gamemaster.”
Reichs said the young adult series isn’t too different from her Temperance Brennan series, it’s just how the story is tailored to the demographic.
“The story is equally as complex,” she said. “The dialogue is different; 14-year-old kids don’t talk like 50-year-old detectives, hopefully. The writing style is similar. I have a very economical style. I don’t like extra words or verbiage.”
The graphic nature of the books is also a “little bit softer,” she said. The teens in the Virals series still encounter skeletons and bones, but they won’t see decomposing bodies or violent deaths, Reichs said.
With her son as her co-author, Reichs said the series is a real collaborative effort.
“We brainstorm ideas. We sit down and hammer out things, kind of like writing out a script,” she said. “He takes parts and writes them and I take parts and write them. I do all the edits and he does all the changes. He’s better at some things than I am.”
Some of those things include social media and a younger generation’s dialogue and she deals a lot with the science. But, Reichs said, that’s what makes for a complementary effort on the stories.
Reichs has also found that the Virals series has attracted a large number of adult readers, too.
“Given the feedback at signings and on Twitter, there are a huge number of adults reading,” she said. “It’s just the characters are younger. (They) are just as complex and intricate.”
The Chicago native will be coming back home for two events, including a March 15 signing at the The Book Stall in Winnetka. Besides catching up with family, Reichs said she tries to get a Chicago-style pizza, take a trip to Greek Town and “to score an Italian beef sandwich.”
“Hopefully everyone will turn out to come and see us,” she said. “We look forward to meeting a lot of Chicagoans who aren’t my relatives.”