Thriller writer moves be­yond com­fort zone

At­lanta-based Karin Slaugh­ter talks about her work tonight at McNally Robin­son Book­sell­ers

Winnipeg Free Press - - NEWS - BEN MACPHEE-SIGURDSON books@freep­


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.


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