As Halloween approaches, I'm reminded of the time I sat down for an interview with prolific crime novelist, Karin Slaughter. Yes. It's her real name! She gets asked that question so often, she includes the question on her website.
Not only has she kept her name, Karin's never forgotten her roots. Her beloved state of Georgia is included in every book. She penned her first novel at 6 years old.
"My dad would give me a quarter every time I wrote a book. For the most part I loved thrillers, I loved mysteries, I loved the puzzle-solving aspect. And, as the youngest of three girls, to scare my sisters, that was my way of storytelling," Karin says.
She's related to baseball Hall of Fame player Enos Slaughter, her grandfather's brother, whom she never got to meet.
When I sat down with Karin in 2018, her 18th novel, psychological thriller Pieces of Her, had just debuted. It is a page turner and one of her four stand-alone novels. She's also known for her Will Trent detective books and Grant County crime series.
The Silent Wife is Karin's latest novel in the Will Trent series. It's gripping, gruesome and emotionally powerful. Her storytelling is so well done, you could join the story of detective Will Trent and medical examiner Sara Linton without reading the earlier books, but why miss out?
Karin agrees, and says, "I’m a stickler for reading in order, but I write the books so you can pick up any one and know exactly where you are and who the characters are."
Learning to develop believable characters came from Karin's childhood storytelling and her ninth grade English teacher, to whom she dedicated her first book.
Karin says, "She stayed in my life until she died recently. She was always there and very much a mentor.”
The novelist also gives credit to her local library for her interest in writing thrillers.
"When I was a child," Karin says, "my mother would drop us off at the library every Saturday, where, under threat of death if we got into any trouble, we would quietly peruse the shelves to our hearts’ content. I’m a big proponent of the library. I loved it as a kid and I support it as an adult."
Karin uses her fame to help keep libraries from closing with her Save The Libraries project, including one in the St. Louis area.
“One grant we gave was to Ferguson to keep the library open during and after the rioting. No matter where you fall politically or socially, children need a safe place to go, and that library was open. Teachers volunteered and were doing the right thing and we wanted to support that.”
Karin's words may scare in print, but in person and on social media, she's alarmingly charming with a quick wit.
"Every crime writer I know is pretty laid back. I think it’s the romance writers you have to look out for," Karin laughs. "They will cut you!"
Her novels Cop Town, The Good Daughter, and Pieces of Her are all in development for film and television.
#slaughtersquad fans, as they call themselves on Instagram, can add to their library with The Silent Wife, the twentieth novel from New York Times bestselling thriller author, Karin Slaughter. She's published in 37 languages, with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe.