20 Questions with Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter

20 Questions is a Q&A interview series with musicians, authors, and everyone in between, celebrating experiences both shared and individual in the messy game of being human.

“It’s okay to be strong. It’s okay to be smart. And, most importantly, it’s okay to let people know that you’re both.” Karin Slaughter is the author of more than twenty instant New York Times bestselling novels, including the Edgar–nominated Cop Town and standalone novels Pretty Girls, The Good Daughter, and Pieces of Her. She is published in 120 countries with more than 40 million copies sold across the globe. Pieces of Her was adapted into a Netflix original series starring Toni Collette, and Will Trent, based on the series of the same, debuted on ABC this January. False Witness and The Good Daughter are also in development for television. Slaughter is the founder of the Save the Libraries project, a non-profit organization established to support libraries and library programming. A native of Georgia, she lives in Atlanta. She joins me this week for this year’s first edition of 20 Questions.

Growing up, did you always want to be a writer?

I wanted to be a writer from a very young age. The first story I ever wrote was “The Boom Diddy Kitty” about a cat who helps a kid who is not very popular — it wasn’t a huge bestseller but remains a classic.

If you could pick one author that’s inspired you the most, who would it be and why? 

Flannery O’Connor is my all-time favorite. Her work is surprising, hilarious, and at times brutal. Reading her stories as a little girl in a very small southern U.S. town, was exhilarating. To see that a woman could get away with telling stories that weren’t the kind you’d tell in polite company showed me a path toward becoming a writer myself.

What inspired you to start writing crime novels?

I’ve always written, but the book that made me think that I should look at it as a profession was Indemnity Only by Sara Paretsky. After graduating from Encyclopedia Brown I discovered V.I. Warshawski and she was a revelation. Growing up in East Jesus, Georgia, I had never read a book where the woman was so unabashedly the hero. Sara’s work not only influenced me as a writer, she influenced me as a woman. It’s okay to be strong. It’s okay to be smart. And, most importantly, it’s okay to let people know that you’re both. Sara Paretsky was/is a huge inspiration to me and to a whole generation of female crime writers.

Favorite book of all-time?

It would be impossible for me to pick just one. But since she’s already on my mind I guess I’ll say that my favorite book is a collection of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories, particularly A Good Man is Hard to Find.

If you could have one writer, dead or alive, to compose your obituary, who would it be and why?

Dolly Parton — to write it and perform it in verse.

The best book you’ve read in the last year?

Things We Do in the Dark by Jennifer Hillier.

What time of day are you most inspired?

My best ideas always come to me when I’m in the shower, which is usually later in the day. That’s why I always keep a waterproof notepad in the shower. And also why I call it my “murder shower.”

What’s the most challenging part of writing for you?

For me, just trying to make sure I’m saying something new and fresh is always the motivation behind writing a new story. I’m constantly challenging myself to write a better book than the one before.

Favorite social media app?

Any app that has kitten videos.

Both Pieces of Her and the Will Trent series have been adapted for television. Did you let yourself anticipate that any of your works might someday translate into another medium of entertainment?

I’ve always thought it would be exciting to see my stories adapted for the screen. And now that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing two works adapted, I also have a deeper understanding of what adapting a book for the screen entails. It’s thrilling.

One song that you will never be sick of?

Queen of Hearts by Juice Newton.

The last series you binge-watched?

Abbott Elementary.

As someone who writes series of novels like Will Trent, what propels your artistic inspiration to keep dreaming up more stories?

There are so many stories to tell. And, in series books like Will Trent, readers want to see the character change and grow over time. I want people to feel like Will is a living, breathing, real life character that they can empathize with.

One movie that will always make you cry?

The Color Purple. I’m not crying. You’re crying.

What’s your current read?

What the Dead Know: Learning About Life as a New York City Death Investigator by Barbara Butcher.

As a writer and artist, what would you say is the best way to rest or decompress?

For me it is about 90 minutes on the treadmill bingeing Netflix.

As a crime writer, do you read any crime by other writers?

Absolutely. Some of my favorites are Alafair Burke, Lisa Unger, Kate White, Wanda Morris, Joshlyn Jackson… I could go on.

You’re stuck on a long flight. Which world-famous musician would you want sitting next to you and why?

Damn, I wish I had saved Dolly Parton for this question. OK, I’m gonna say Dolly for this question because she is a total badass. And she’s a Southern lady like me, so you KNOW she has stories to tell. We’d sit crooked and talk straight. For the obituary question I change my answer to Adele (again, in verse) because you know she’d bring down the house.

One thing that’s been keeping you sane throughout the COVID-19 pandemic?


What can we expect to see next from you?

My next book is called After That Night. It’s a new Will Trent book and it comes out this summer and is available for pre-order now.

Follow Karin Slaughter on Twitter and Instagram, and pre-order After That Night wherever you buy books.