I’m thrilled today to be the stop on the blog tour for the Queen of Crime aka one of my all time favorite authors aka Karin Slaughter!! If you missed my review of Pieces of Her you can find it here. I have a fantastic Q & A to share today, but first here’s some more information about the book.
Andrea Oliver is celebrating her birthday over lunch with her mother, Laura, when they ﬁ nd themselves in the middle of a deadly shooting. Terriﬁed, Andy is frozen. But Laura – calm, cool and collected – jumps into action and stops the killer in his tracks. No one can understand how a quiet, middle-aged speech pathologist could possibly have the knowledge or ability to stop a shooter on the rampage. The fall out and widespread media coverage quickly unravels the carefully curated life Laura has built for herself and her daughter. And Andy discovers that the person who she thought she knew best in the world is a total stranger. The bigger problem though is that someone wants them both dead. As two intersecting timelines – 1986 and the present – gradually converge, Pieces of Her begs the question: can you ever truly escape your past?
Q & A:
Where do you find inspiration for your books?
Most of the time I have no idea. I only know in one book, PRETTY GIRLS, I had a dream. I’d slipped a disc in my back. I’ve never smoked a cigarette or taken any kind of drugs—I don’t even drink—and I was taking a narcotic for my back, and it gave me these insane dreams. I woke up, and I wrote down what I had dreamt, and it was the opening for PRETTY GIRLS. Literally the first 100 pages. And I was already working on a different book, what eventually became THE GOOD DAUGHTER and I called my editor Kate Elton, and said I have an idea for this book and that’s the one I want to write instead. She said, “write the book you want to write. Just please do it quickly.” And that’s PRETTY GIRLS. But really I don’t know. Sometimes the first chapter comes to me in bits and pieces, and I have my little pad in the shower I write things down on. One of the Will Trent books, the entire opening is in my shower pad right now.
What kind of research do you do for a book, and how much do you research before you start writing?
I research all the sex myself. It depends on the book. For PIECES OF HER, there wasn’t a hell of a lot. And after doing this a long time, I have a lot of knowledge of things the police do, or how investigations work, or clues or things like that that are in my head just from working on previous novels. With the GOOD DAUGHTER, that opening—I talked to Georgian Bureau Investigation Agents who were at school shootings. I did a drill with all the agents at the GBI, where they took over an abandoned school and simulated a shooter. Each agent had to go through and find the bad guy. I was pretty conversant with that, but I wanted to talk about what an investigation would look like, because there’s always things that surprise me that people who are on the other side of law enforcement never think about, like the fact that—I talk about this in the GOOD DAUGHTER—everybody shows up. They could be ATF, they could be training canines for the DEA, they all show up. They’re all there to help. And no one says where’s the jurisdiction, where’s the money coming from, or whatever. It’s just “tell us what to do” when a large scale tragedy happens. I love those kinds of details. With PIECES OF HER, I talk about how even if you’re in Witness Protection, you might still go to prison. And just from a practical standpoint, Andy’s driving. Andy’s figuring out the mileage. That was hard for me because I’m not good at that sort of thing. I’m the kind of person who’s told to get on a train—I was in Rotterdam, told to get on a train to Antwerp, and I ended up in Germany. So, I’m not very good with directions at all. I just had to knuckle down with all that, and think about how many days it would take and what it would feel like. Because I’ve been on trips like that, and I wanted to describe them in a way that made sense. I’ve done trips like that in Europe, and it’s not as big as America. Taking a detail, like you could put all of England in Michigan and it wouldn’t touch the sides, that kind of puts it in scale for people. But just the grueling hours and hours of being trapping in a car, and what that would look like on the interstate, I know intimately from long road trips. I wanted to capture that with Andy.
Do you have secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Yes. There are secrets. I have secrets that no one has ever found. I think maybe it plays into being the youngest of three, because I’d always have these secrets and then I’d drop truth bombs at the most inappropriate times. That was just my way of being the Erin Brockovich of my family.
What has been your hardest scene to write?
That was probably ending Grant Country. I was sobbing like a baby. It was really hard to write. It was really scary, because I thought, I could just write Grant County books until I’m 80, and have a nice living, and be comfortable, but that’s not what I wanted to be. I wanted to be a writer, and really challenge myself, and I wanted it to be about the work. I want each book to be as good as the last one, if not better. That’s always my goal, to top myself. That’s one of the reasons why I wrote PIECES OF HER, and it’s such a different novel. It was such a big leap for me creatively to write THE GOOD DAUGHTER, and I had a journalist in Holland say to me—he tossed the book on the table and said “How are you going to top this?” I have known him for years, but I thought, “Are you kidding me?” And I decided, you top this by writing a completely different book, that’s fun, that full of important things, and you just keep doing what you’ve been doing. And I always think, for some people, well it’s not that hard to by a hardcover book, but for some people it’s a stretch. And I always remember, when I was a college student, and I would save up money for a hardcover from my favorite author, and it would end up being bad, and I would feel cheated. So I’m always aware of how much minimum wage is, and how many hours of a person’s life it takes to read a book. And I never want to be in a position where I’m not doing everything I can to make sure a person likes that book. I mean, I can’t guarantee they’ll love it, but I can guarantee I’ll work as hard as I can to write the best book I can, because that’s why I’m doing this.