Is Patricia Cornwell's Life More Interesting Than Her Best-Sellers?S

Whether you're a fan of Patricia Cornwell or walk right on by when you see her books at the airport, you'll find that the incredibly revealing profile of the best-selling crime novelist in USA Today is a genuinely compelling story. Cornwell has never discussed her 2006 marriage — to a woman named Staci Gruber — in a mainstream publication before.

Cornwell, 52, lives in a "sprawling farmhouse-style home" with the 41-year-old Gruber in Concord, MA. The writer has the trappings you'd expect from someone who can live more-than-comfortably after selling millions of copies of books: a Ferrari, a helicopter, some motorcycles, a bulldog puppy. But Cornwell, who grew up in a small town in North Carolina, has always kept her private life private. "I'm not a soapbox kind of person," she says.

A difficult childhood (absentee father, mother so stricken by depression that she couldn't care for her kids) led Cornwell to turn to writing. And, according to the article:

She was married for 10 years to Charles Cornwell, one of her college English professors. In 1992, three years after her divorce, she had a short-lived affair with an FBI agent named Margo Bennett, but its repercussions would play out for years. The story made headlines after Bennett's husband learned of the affair; in 1996 he attempted to kidnap his wife at gunpoint. Cornwell was outed, but she didn't comment to the press. "That was not publicly known about me, and I wasn't happy when I got outed," she says. "That's not nice to happen to anybody. It shouldn't be other people's choice instead of yours."

And though Cornwell has a gay character in her books — which center around fictional forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta — being comfortable enough to speak openly about her sexuality has been a process.

Yet she's happy with Gruber, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Cornwell tells USA Today: "Mother used to say the worst things that could happen to anybody were to be an alcoholic and a homosexual." But it seems that Cornwell, who donates millions of dollars to animal rescue, law enforcement, education and literacy has finally come to terms with her life: "I'm OK with who I am, and to the things that really matter to me, I can say yes: 'Are you decent? Are you generous? Are you compassionate? Do you have humility?' Yes, I have a Ferrari in the garage, but I also give a lot away."

Crime Pays Quite Well For Patricia Cornwell [USA Today]