Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Karin Slaughter, Guest Blogger

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.

18 comments:

Dru said...

I can't wait to get my copy of this book. I've been waiting all year for it. Thanks for writing great stories, Karin.

Jenn's Bookshelves said...

Fantastic guest post! I should have been a librarian; I love when people share their favorite library memories!

Kay said...

What a great guest post! First let me say that Karin Slaughter is one of my very favorite mystery writers. Or should I say writers period? I'm not exactly sure why I love her books so much, but I do. I have held the previous book back and not read it specifically to wait for BROKEN. I can't stand to not have a Karin Slaughter book waiting for me. I loved the last sentence--the burning sense of wanting to know what happens next. That completely describes why I read her mysteries. Don't get me wrong, I love the puzzle. However, I think the books I love most take me into the lives of the characters so completely that I almost become part of the cast and then I gotta know.....you know?

Lesa said...

Thanks for stopping by, Dru!

Lesa said...

Thanks for mentioning the post on Twitter, Jenn. I love library memories as well. They show the impact libraries have had on authors and readers.

Lesa said...

One of those, Kay? An author that you hold back. I used to do that with Lee Harris' books. They always filled a need for me, and I always kept one until the next one came out. Unfortunately, she hasn't written in a few years now. I understand how you feel about Karin's books.

Clarissa Draper said...

Great interview. I love to have my readers feel the same 'wanting to know' feeling that I feel when I write. That's why I give my characters space and let them decide which way the story will go. THe cover on the book is amazing by the way.

CD

Catherine said...

Karin,
I love your books. I pre-ordered the new one and am looking forward to spending time with your wonderful characters.

I too love libraries. There was a small library next to my elementary school. We had library hour every week and the librarian would read or tell us stories. I'd always walk out with a stack of books. Then I started going on my own and when I had read everything age appropriate, the librarian let me start on adult bookds. My parents were not too thrilled when I came home with Forever Amber, a racy book back then (not that I understood it) and Mom dragged me back to the library. Not only did the librarian convince her to let me read that, but they agreed I could read anything I wanted.

Keep on writing.

Catherine

LSUReader said...

Karin--I think it's a fair guess that you've passed on to all of us who read your novels "that burning sense of wanting to know what happens next." I can't wait to read Broken. Although I'm not really looking forward to "seeing" Lena again (she drives me nuts!) I do want to know what's up with her and the rest of those in Grant County.

Lesa said...

Thanks for all your comments for Karin. I don't know if she's going to stop by during the day, but I'm glad you're discussing her books & the library.

Thank you!

Beth Hoffman said...

I so enjoyed reading this, Lesa. Thank you for another terrific guest blogger!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Beth. I always enjoy reading the guest blogs when I get them. I never know what the author is going to choose to say.

kathy d. said...

Libraries are great! I have had a library card since I was 3 and have always loved libraries.

A favorite jaunt of mine is to visit different branches in my city, to see what they are like and the books and dvd's that they have.

In public school in Chicago, the school librarian was a wonderful person.

I just hope that the budget cuts in my city aren't too drastic for the libraries; cuts in days, hours, staff, programs, purchases, are threatened.

Lesa said...

Good luck, kathy d. I hope things work out for your library system. We've taken those cuts in the system where I work. In the last 2 years, we've lost 45% of our staff, and, as of July 1, we're opening with shorter hours, about half of what we have been open. It's a tough time for libraries.

jenny milchman said...

Karin, what a terrific trip back in time, thank you for posting and Lesa, thanks for hosting!

Lesa said...

Always my plreasure, Jenny! I enjoy hosting the authors.

kathy d. said...

My sympathies entirely on the cutbacks in the libraries in your city.

Am dreading what's coming here. So far, the libraries will close two days a week instead of one. But 20 firehouses are being kept open which were slated for closing, so I can't complain about this. Will see what is being announced.

I feel very badly for library staff losing jobs or having hours cut.

Lesa said...

It's really a tough time for so many people, kathy. And, governments are always behind everyone else in the recovery. It will take us a while to make a comeback.