Any librarian would be delighted to have Karin Slaughter as a guest blogger. Yes, I know she's a bestselling author. But, she's passionate about libraries, and she discusses that passion on her website. And, I have to thank her for sharing that passion here.
Whenever I sit down to write a book, I always think back to when I was a kid sitting in the back of the Jonesboro public library. This was when children had to be quiet on pain of death (not at the hand of the librarians, but our mothers) and books were more precious than bars of gold. I loved the calm, coolness of the space. I didn’t get my start reading mysteries, but somehow, one of the librarians spotted me like a lion spots a limping gazelle. She took me out of the hoity toity section—really, an eight year old had no business perusing Lady Chatterley’s Lover—and directed me to a long line of Nancy Drews. Then she pointed to the Hardy Boys. Then Encyclopedia Brown. I think I stopped asking her for new books after that, and I never looked back. I loved the twists and turns, the seedy characters and the worlds I had never glimpsed before. I loved the subtext best of all, because everyone knows that a good mystery, whether it’s the tense courtroom drama of To Kill a Mockingbird or the lone gunman of The Great Gatsby, serves to pull the scab off the human condition.
I was thinking about all the books I read in my small town library when I wrote Broken, my tenth novel. The story combines my two series, Grant County and Will Trent’s Atlanta. A lot has happened since Blindsighted was published all those years ago, and when I wrote the opening chapter of Broken, I felt a great responsibility not just to my readers but to the story. This has been a long journey, and I wanted to make sure I kept challenging myself to say something new and exciting about the characters. In many ways, Will Trent made the task easier. He has never been in my small town, and seeing the inhabitants through his eyes was fairly shocking for me. It was also exhilarating, because here was an opportunity to re-introduce the people readers think they know, but don’t really know anything about at all. Lena Adams has never been a reliable narrator, and watching her spar with Will was a pleasure that is hard to describe. Sara, back in town for the first time in four years, has changed in so many subtle ways that only came to light when she was back with her family. Working through their stories, exploring how they are all broken, figuring out how to fix them, or whether some of them can ever be fixed, reminded me so much of why I loved reading mysteries in the first place that by the time I reached the end of the book I felt that familiar breathlessness for more. It took me back to my library days, when the crime, while gripping, took a backseat to what the characters were doing. I wasn’t reading The Secret of the Old Clock or The Phantom Freighter for the mystery alone. I wanted to find out what Nancy and George and Frank and Joe were up to. I hope that my readers feel that same pleasure when they read Broken, and that they feel themselves thinking about them long after the last page is read. To me, that’s the best gift a mystery series can give you—that burning sense of wanting to know what happens next.
Thank you, Karin.
Karin Slaughter's website is www.karinslaughter.com
Broken by Karin Slaughter. Random House, ©2010. ISBN 9780385341974 (hardcover),416p.