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Crime Fiction at its Finest: Q&A with Karin Slaughter

August 6, 2018

About the Author

Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her eighteen novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated Cop Town and the instant New York Times bestselling novels Pretty Girls and The Good Daughter. Slaughter is the founder of the Save the Libraries project—a nonprofit organisation established to support libraries and library programming. A native of Georgia, Karin Slaughter lives in Atlanta. Her standalone novels The Good Daughter and Cop Town are in development for film and television.

Purchase a copy of Pieces of Her here

Read our review of Pieces of Her here 

Where do you get your ideas?

With most books, I have no idea where the inspiration comes from.  Generally, it’s a “what if” moment. That’s what gets me going: answering the what ifs.  Though I have a lot of access to real-life cases, I never take one in its entirety and put it in a book.  I always remind myself that these crimes happen to real people, and I need to honor that fact, not exploit it.  So, I pick and choose different details from different cases and blend them together.  That being said, there is nothing a fiction author can come up with that hasn’t been done before in real life—usually far more horrifically.

What is your writing schedule?

Unfortunately, I’m not very disciplined. I’m more of a “run off into the mountains and write until I collapse” author. I wish I could be more structured, but it’s been working for me so far, so who am I to judge? When I’m ready to work on a story, I drive two hours outside of Atlanta to the Blue Ridge mountains, where I have a cabin that my father built for me. When I’m writing, all I do is get up in the morning, start writing, then stop writing when I can’t see or think anymore.  Sometimes, that can be 12 or 16 hours (with naps in between) and sometimes that can be four hours (with more naps) but I’ve always been better in isolation.  I don’t understand how people can work in coffee shops or, worse, be in the middle of a chapter and just stop.  I suppose part of it is my obsessive/compulsiveness.  I’m completely incapable of not finishing something I start.

How long does it take you to write a book?

It depends on what the book is about and how much research is involved. I’d say on average that the whole process takes around ten to twelve months. Sometimes it goes more quickly, sometimes more slowly. I never want to be in a position where I am rushing a story, and thankfully my publishers are very patient.

How do you do your research?

I have the great fortune of being able to ask agents at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, or retired cops, for pointers and tips about solving (and committing!) crimes. For my Grant County series, a doctor friend of mine has been helping me since Kisscut so that Sara seems like she knows what she’s doing. Mostly, it’s me thinking a lot and trying to figure out a plot and then I call on the experts and say, ‘I need a cop to search this house and find this clue. How would they get a warrant?’ or ‘I want Sara to stick her hands into a man’s chest and pump his beating heart. Tell me the steps.’  I hope very much that the FBI is not monitoring my emails with these folks because we’re probably on a list somewhere.

What authors do you like to read?

I’ve read all of Kate Atkinson’s stuff. I adored Case HistoriesFingersmith by Sarah Waters was one of my all-time favorites. Lee Child’s Jack Reacher  and Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski are my favorite series characters. Alafair Burke, Kate White, Sara Blaedel, Don Winslow, and Lynda LaPlante, and Lisa Gardner are all on my necessary reading lists.


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