With more than 30 million copies of her books in print worldwide, #1 internationally bestselling author Karin Slaughter has wowed readers and critics alike with the gritty forensic detailing, all-too-human characters, and stark rendering of crime found in her lacerating thrillers. She is a native of Georgia, where she currently lives and is working on her next novel. In her spare time, Karin has swum with the sharks in Australia and jumped butt-naked into the Baltic after a bracing sauna in Finland but she always returns home to Atlanta.
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Criminal by Karin Slaughter.
I’m so delighted to welcome Karin Slaughter to Buried Under Books today.
Karin has agreed to share a few thoughts with us.
cncbooks: Who did you pretend to be when you were a kid?
Karin Slaughter: Encyclopedia Brown, which might explain why my sisters were always punching me. I wish I could say I remembered important things and helped solve crimes, but my mind is more built for remembering all the plots to Gilligan’s Island or acing the pink pie wedge in Trivial Pursuit.
cncbooks: Is there one author (mystery or otherwise) who has really influenced your writing career?
Karin Slaughter: Reading Flannery O’Connor was a revelation to me. I’d never known that it was possible for a woman to talk about sex and violence so frankly. I later learned she was using them as tools to talk about the human condition. To me, this is what crime fiction is all about. Some of our greatest works about society and the evolution of the species are in the crime fiction canon.
cncbooks: Do you write to please yourself or Jane Q. Public?
Karin Slaughter: While I love my readers, I write to please myself. I read a lot, so I write books that I want to read. Thankfully, I’m not the only one who’s interested in these things!
cncbooks: If you were shipwrecked on an uncharted island with no hope of rescue, who is the one person, other than family, you would want with you and why?
Karin Slaughter: I’m going to say my agent, because if anyone could get us off that island, it would be her. Plus, she’d make sure I had something other than fish, which I am allergic to. And I can run faster than her in case the island really isn’t deserted…
cncbooks: Do you make deals with yourself when you’re writing, i.e., if you finish X number of pages you get to eat ice cream?
Karin Slaughter: I use the same trick I used to get myself to write papers in college: I set the kitchen timer for an hour and tell myself I’m going to work for an hour no matter what. I’ve yet to hear the ding and wanted to stop. You can do anything for an hour.
cncbooks: What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author? What has been the best compliment?
Karin Slaughter: I try not to read reviews, but I took a TON of flack off the way I ended my Grant County series. People were not happy and they expressed themselves all over the internet. I responded to every email I got because it was important to me that people understood why I did what I did. For the most part, they did, or they accepted why I made the decision. In many ways, I think that the best compliment is that people were so mad about the ending, because that means that I was doing my job as a writer and making them care about my characters.
cncbooks: How much of you is in your character, Amanda?
Karin Slaughter: I think my friends would say a lot, but you’re not asking my friends so I’ll say just a tiny bit. She can be grumpy like me. She has my sense of fairness. If you look back at all the times Will needed her, she was there. I think that makes her pretty laudable. Of course, there’s a bad side to her, too, but that’s not me!
cncbooks: What is the last book you read purely for pleasure?
Karin Slaughter: Tigers in Red Weather was the last book I really enjoyed. It’s one of those sprawling family dramas with a murder thrown in for good measure. As a first novel, it’s fairly gripping.
cncbooks: Do any of your characters clamor to be heard over the others?
Karin Slaughter: I have two very polarizing characters: Lena Adams and Angie Polaski, who are best written in small measures. They never show up in the same stories, mostly because I think they would try to kill each other. They’re very strong women, but the difference is that Lena actually thinks she’s doing good while Angie embraces doing bad things.
cncbooks: You’re heading for a week-long solitary retreat. Other than writing tools, what are the five items you simply must take with you?
Karin Slaughter: My two cats take up the first two slots. Pajamas, because that’s all I’ll wear. Socks in case my feet get cold (or my swimming stuff if I’m going somewhere hot) and a crate load of books.
cncbooks: Can you tell us a little about your work to save libraries and why you believe it’s important to save them?
Karin Slaughter: Every author I know loves libraries. Most of us got our start sitting on the floor in some library and gorging ourselves on good (and bad!) reads. So, at a very basic level, it’s payback. We owe these institutions. We also owe the country, the county, the towns and municipalities who gave us these great places of reading. It benefits everyone to support kids having access to reading. Good readers are good students. Good students go to college. College grads pay higher taxes. It’s a very small investment with a large return. I can’t see where anyone loses in that equation. It’s just good governance to have a strong library system.
Karin, thank you so much for being here today and indulging my nosiness 😉