Interview with the Queen of Crime Karin Slaughter


Anneke Schrijft managed to grab a quick word with internationally bestselling author Karin Slaughter about her new book, Pieces Of her. (Dutch title: Gespleten)

Karin Slaughter wrote eighteen novels including the No. 1  bestselling thriller, Pieces of her. The Queen of Crime, sold more than 35 million copies of her books around the world and her books are published in 37 languages. Her novels Cop Town, The good Daughter, and Pieces of Her are all in development for film and television.


Pieces of her book summary

What if the person you thought you knew best turns out to be someone you never knew at all . . . ? Andrea knows everything about her mother, Laura. She knows she has spent her whole life in the small beachside town of Belle Isle; she knows she has never wanted anything more than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she has never kept a secret in her life. Because we all know our mothers, don’t we? But all that changes when a trip to the mall explodes into violence and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura. Because it turns out that before Laura was Laura, she was someone completely different. For nearly thirty years she’s been hiding from her previous identity, lying low in the hope that no one would ever find her. But now she’s been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again. The police want answers and Laura’s innocence is on the line, but she won’t speak to anyone, including her own daughter. Andrea is on a desperate journey following the breadcrumb trail of her mother’s past. And if she can’t uncover the secrets hidden there, there may be no future for either one of them…

Is there a book that inspired you to become a writer? Or one that has a particular influence on the characters you create today?

My dad is the one who inspired me, because he was always telling stories when I was a little girl. Most of them were really dark and humorous stories about people doing stupid things or ending up getting killed or mutilated, which is a typical southern type of story; southern gothic tradition.


Getting them back

I started writing when I was a child; I wanted to be like my dad and tell stories. Most of my stories were about my sisters getting murdered. I’m the youngest of three sisters. So that was my way getting them back for being mean or ignoring me. The book that influenced me the most as a writer was a collection of short stories by Flannery O’Conner. She was a southern writer and lived in a small town like me.

Interested in dark things

As a little girl I was interested in dark things and I was often told that wasn’t normal and the fact that I wrote all the time wasn’t normal, it wouldn’t be something little girls would do. Reading this book by this woman who was celebrated all over the world for doing what I was doing, kinda gave me permission to go on and be an author and try to follow in her footsteps. It’s important for young girls to have role models, she was definitely a role model for me.


Does writing come natural to you? What where the biggest challenges you faced when writing Pieces of her?

Well it does come naturally. I’m always thinking of stories; when I’m in an airport or in a car, in the shower, I’m just thinking of ideas. Most of the time – some of the best lines come from Amanda, where she’s saying something mean to Will – that comes to me in the shower. I have a little notepad that’s waterproof where I wrote on all these nasty things that Amanda would say to Will. (Will and Amanda are characters from the Will Trent serie written by Karin slaughter.)


Generational differences 

Writing is something that’s very natural to me. As far as Pieces of Her I just wanted to write about the generational differences between women of my age and women in their twenties and thirties. I wanted to write about how different the opportunities are and the best way to do that is to write about a mother (Laura) and her daughter (Andy). Laura, when she was Andy’s age, had very limited choices in her life. And now you have Andy who has so many choices. She doesn’t know what to do and she’s terrified of making the wrong decision, so she never makes one decision.

Has writing thrillers changed the way you look at people?

I think I’ve always looked at people a little skeptically.  My grandmother told a lot of stories about people we knew. One of the things she loved to do was take us to church and introduce her friends to us. As soon as a woman turned around she would say a dark secret like: ‘she drinks a lot’ or ‘her husbands is cheating on her’. So you know, as a child I learned that people always have something they’re hiding. That’s the thing I want to know about the most.

What type of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning to write Pieces of her?

Most of my books I think about for a really long time. The Will and Sara book that I’m working on right now that will be out next year. I had the idea five years ago. The idea isn’t the hard part, the hard part is figuring out how to turn it into a story, how to express it through the characters, how to make it thrilling and where the cliffhangers and twists and turns will be.

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Photo: Anneke Schrijft

A couple of years

I was thinking about Pieces of her for a couple years. The story came to me at the end of writing The Kept Woman. I was thinking about the characters and how they were going to interact. I had to take the time to come up with the story and I didn’t do that until I  really thought: I want this to be the next book. That’s the kind of thought I gave to it.

Child prodigies

In between I was reading things: there’s a character in Pieces of her who was a gifted child. So I read about child prodigies and what it’s like for them and the pressures that they look at and how it shapes them as characters. I also took a crash course in how to play a musical instrument.


I love music

I love music but I’m very horrible at describing it. So I had to think about adjectives to describe music. Music is so subjective, one person may love the Beatles but another person might think they’re awful. I had to talk to musicians and get information from them, such as  what it’s like to play musical instruments and what’s it like to be at the top of your game. What is it like to be the best pianist in the world or guitar player in the world? And what are the pressures that come with that?

What is your process in selecting the names of your characters?

That’s really hard because we all have favorite names. We all have a name we wish our parents called us instead of the name we’re stuck with. This is my 18th book, I used a lot of names. Sometimes I look on Facebook and try to find names there. Or I auction for charity the right to be named in my book. That’s something fun I like to do.

What was the hardest sentence to write: first of last?

Their equally as difficult. For a book to be really good you have to spend as much time on the beginning as you spend at the end. We’ve all read books where we get to the end and we think that the writer just ghosted through it. Didn’t really think about it and didn’t really pay attention to put the pieces of the puzzle together. I think every word is important, whether it’s the first or the last.

Click here if you’re curious to read what I thought of the book Pieces of Her.



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