Thriller writer moves beyond comfort zone
Atlanta-based Karin Slaughter talks about her work tonight at McNally Robinson Booksellers
KARIN SLAUGHTER, IN CONVERSATION WITH J.H. MONCRIEFF
McNally Robinson Booksellers,
Grant Park Shopping Centre, 7 p.m.
Presented by the Winnipeg International Writers Festival
Free admission ARIN Slaughter’s output is nothing if not consistent.
Since the release of her critically acclaimed thriller Blindsighted in 2001, the Atlanta-based suspense writer has produced a novel a year ever since, garnering sales in excess of 35 million copies worldwide in dozens of languages.
“When I started my career as a writer, I had it in mind to be a book-a-year author. In this day and age — when television and movies are competing with books for attention — I think that you have to write and publish at a regular pace that fans and readers can rely on,” Slaughter, 47, explains by email prior to her Winnipeg stop tonight at McNally Robinson Booksellers’ Grant Park location. “That said, I never want to be in a position where I am rushing a story, and thankfully my publishers are very patient.”
That level of output means Slaughter’s Winnipeg appearance, where she’ll be joined by in conversation by local suspense author J.H. Moncrieff, will see her discussing two recent novels — the fall 2016 release The Kept Woman, as well as the 2017 standalone thriller The Good Daughter. The latter recounts the story of two sisters separated at a young age by an unspeakable crime, and a violent case that unleashes memories for one of them 28 years later.
Many suspense novels revolve
Karound a recurring detective protagonist, and in Slaughter’s case that sleuth is Georgia Bureau of Investigations special agent Will Trent. Based in Atlanta, Trent (and supporting characters such as Faith Mitchell and Angie Polanski) have been the focal point of many of Slaughter’s novels such as The Kept Woman, Unseen and Fractured.
The Kept Woman also sees Sara Linton join the Georgia bureau as medical examiner. Linton is a crossover character from Slaughter’s other series, set in the fictional Grant County and which includes novels such as Blindsighted, Beyond Reach and Indelible.
Writing thrillers in a series poses a unique set of challenges for Slaughter. “When I write a Will Trent book, I have a shorthand with the characters because I’ve known them for so long, and the challenge is more toward finding something new to say about them in a believable way,” Slaughter says. “The challenge is to tell a different story than I’ve ever told, while staying true to the characters.”
And while standalone novels may offer more freedom in subject matter and character development, they’re not without their own set of obstacles.
“With standalone novels, I’ve found it challenging to give normal, everyday characters (as opposed to Georgia Bureau of Investigation characters) a reason for being involved in figuring out the crime and solving the mystery,” she says. “With Pieces of Her, even I didn’t quite know how the final twist would play out until I was writing it.”
If Pieces of Her isn’t familiar to avid Slaughter fans — and there are many — it’s because it won’t be released until this fall. And while it will feature many familiar hallmarks of a Karin Slaughter thriller, it also finds the author pushing her own boundaries, including venturing beyond Georgia.
“I love writing about my home state because I know it so well, and because it feels like a character in its own right,” she says. “(Pieces of Her) features multiple locations in the United States, Canada and even Norway. I’m venturing out of Georgia... I hope readers feel a sense of adventure in this new story.”
If that worries her fans, they can take comfort that another Will Trent novel is slated for 2019 publication, and that film and television development talks are taking place around her Will Trent and Grant County books, as well as her 2014 standalone novel Cop Town.
Karin Slaughter will be joined tonight by local suspense author J. H. Moncrieff.