I’m wondering if you can put into context what hate-crimes legislation really means in the long run.
could argue that any kind of violent crime is a hate crime, and one
could actually say, for example, that when someone is a serial rapist,
that violence against women would indicate he hates women. But to be
specific and to protect society, I think that when somebody commits a
crime because they have a tremendous prejudice toward a certain type of
person and they’re going to randomly do something destructive or
debilitating or even cause death to that person just because they
represent a group that they hate, I do think we have to take very
strong measures against those types of perpetrators. For one thing, I
think on a sociological level, these not only lead to bigger crimes –
if you’re targeting one person who represents a group, what you’re
actually saying is, “I want to annihilate the entire group,” which is
the same thing the Nazis did -- you’re leading to greater destruction
of our civilization. I think by punishing people who do target certain
groups of people, whether it’s by race, by gender, or by sexual
orientation, you’re also sending the message to society that this is
not permitted. You do not get to hate and attack any individual because
they represent a group that has an affiliation, for one reason or
another, that doesn’t suit you. So, for the survival of our society, we
need to take certain measures to say this is wrong and we will not
stand for it.

I know you’ve done a couple of bios and a children’s book. At the end of the day, what keeps you coming back to crime?
seems to be what I know best by now. I am so steeped in it. People have
asked me this a lot, and I always grope a bit with, “Why am I so struck
with this?” I know this will sound strange, but I think it’s because,
when I was first exposed to it as a police reporter I had been
sheltered from it. I grew up in a little town where, year after year,
it had a zero crime rate. Nobody locked their doors. Certainly I was
subjected to things that weren’t very pleasant when I was young, and I
was no stranger to people being scary, going back to being 5 years
old in Miami and having a bad run-in with a local security person. I
knew bad things could happen to people. But I did lead a rather
sheltered life, and when I started seeing the types of crimes that were
being committed in Charlotte, N.C., where I was a journalist,
I was shocked. I think I was so stunned by it all, I had to find out
more. Why do people do this, and what does it feel like to have it
happen to you? How do you cope with it, who are the people that work
these cases, and what makes them tick? It’s my nature to explore things.

Looking back at your earlier books, I was shocked to see how
early the character of Lucy (Kay Scarpetta’s niece) came out. I think
you even did it before you came out, publicly at least.

It was
before I was kind of forced out. I’d never lied about it to anybody;
it’s just that nobody had asked. And yes, Lucy – I think that was 1995 when The Body Farm
came out and we first find out about Lucy… she was a teenager in that book. It’s
the funniest thing, because I didn’t plan on it. I hadn’t seen Lucy in a
while in my books – the last time I’d seen her she was a kid – and when
she returned in The Body Farm, a period of time had elapsed and she’d
gotten older. The minute she appeared before my eyes in my imagination,
I thought, My God, she’s gay. I didn’t know. And then I thought, OK,
stop the press, this is an issue here. What am I going to do with this?
I know she’s gay, I’m looking at her, I can tell.
That sounds weird to
say, but I knew it. I said, OK, you’ve always been honest about your
characters. If she’s gay, she’s gay.
I do remember even having a
conversation with someone at my publishing house, when I said, “Listen,
I’ve got to tell you something. I just found out Lucy’s gay.” “Well,
what do you mean you just found out?” In that time, 1995, that was not
really a cool thing to do. There wasn’t really a series character on a
magnitude of what this series has been where you had someone who was a
gay character. There was some consternation about it, but I said, "Too
bad." Of course, it also happens to be who I was. I knew it even though
we weren’t talking about it in the media. So I’m sure that had
something to do with it.

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