Rhyll Biest interviews author NM Harris about the profession of forensic pathologist.
What are the traits of a good forensic pathologist?
Methodical attention to detail, a lack of squeamishness and steady hands! The capacity to render scientific terminology in layman's terms for court appearances is also useful.
Do forensic pathologists have their own jargon?
Like doctors and any scientist working with human biology, they have a lot of medical terminology at their disposal - though a lot of theirs relate more to organic systems that have ceased to operate and are in the process of breaking down. So they use words like lividity, antemortem, postmortem and the charming 'adipocere', which is "a waxy soap-like substance that forms on corpses during decomposition under specific conditions. Also known as ‘grave wax’"
I bet you really wanted to know that.
What do forensic pathologists dislike (i.e. it makes their job harder)?
Corpses unexpectedly proving to be not quite dead... and corpses that go missing. Fortunately, these things hardly ever happen. (Well, unless you write horror and crime fiction...)
Other than that? They're not fond of people demanding they work faster than is appropriate to get a thorough and correct result, or of those who might try to get them to find clues to fit the suspect rather than determining what really happened first.
I guess they're not too fond of not being able to determine the cause of death for any reason.
How do forensic pathologists like to unwind after slaving over cold corpses all day?
I think they'd like to spend the time with living people - having dinner, dancing, laughing, getting the most out of life - because they understand how precarious and precious life can be.
What do you think is sexy about forensic pathologists?
I think they value life, and how to live it well, because they know what the alternative is. As scientists, they're smart too, and I think intellect is very sexy!
Thank you for your time, Narrelle.
Want to know more about NM Harris? Visit her blog here.
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