Five questions with: Bestselling crime author Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter at Central Library

Wednesday, Aug. 24, 7 p.m., Free

Author Karin Slaughter, via

To promote her new book, Girl, Forgotten, the aptly named Karin Slaughter will be visiting Des Moines on Wednesday, Aug. 24 as a part of the Des Moines Public Library’s Authors Visiting in Des Moines series (AViD). The Georgia native and Save the Libraries founder’s newest novel is the sequel to Pieces of Her, a 2018 release that was adapted into a Netflix series starring Toni Collette.

Little Village asked Slaughter five questions about the new book ahead of her appearance at Central Library.

Your new book comes out next week and it’s a continuation of Andrea Oliver’s story. What was the reason for revisiting Andrea?

It’s important when you write a book to ask a question at the beginning that you answered at the end, and Pieces of Her it was, “What is Andrea’s relationship with her mother?” And I thought the next one, Girl, Forgotten, it would be good to ask, “What about her relationship with her father?” So this was Andrea’s quest to figure out who he is, whether he’s a completely bad guy, or if he ever did good. And more importantly, is that something that she has within herself?

Is that always your impetus, to bring back characters in stories? Or does it depend on the character?

It really depends on the character. Sometimes, one book is enough to tell their stories. A lot of times, if I write a sequel to something or a series of something, it’s because I feel like the character has more to say, and I definitely felt like doing Pieces of Her, Andrea’s sort of trying to find out who she is. And I thought, “Well, what what comes next, you know, she went through this transformation. And who is she going to be now?”

Obviously, Pieces of Her has been a pretty big story for you. It got picked up by Netflix for a series. What was it like working with Netflix?

It was really actually pretty amazing. I’ve been warned as an author that having your work adapted is very painful. But Netflix was really great. The writers on the show tried to honor the book and really captured the spirit of the book. And Toni Collette is amazing. I mean, she just really nailed the character of Laura in such a wonderful way. She really anchored everything to do with the story. I read the script. They asked me questions about characters and motivation. And I got to be on set one day when they were filming in Atlanta; that was pretty neat just to see how the sausage is made.

You are from Georgia and many of your books are set in Georgia as well. What is it about your home state that inspires you to bring it to life in your books?

Well, I think part of your job as a writer is to write what you know. And I certainly know Georgia. I was born and raised here. I lived here. I could live anywhere in the world and this is the place I chose. But I also think you should write what you want to know about. And I’m always curious about what drives people to do horrible things. And so this was really, for me, a way to explore something that happened in high school. And what happened 40 years later to the people who were wrapped up in what was a horrific crime, you know, how does that trauma ripple through their lives?

What originally got you interested in true crime and crime novels? How did you decide to write it yourself?

As far as books, In Cold Blood, the Truman Capote work, I think, is probably one of his seminal — well, it started true crime, basically. I loved reading Ann Rule as I was growing up, but I think the thing that made me most curious was the fact that when I was a kid growing up in South Georgia, we had a serial killer in Atlanta, the Atlanta Child Murderer. And it was really shocking to me as a child to realize that children could be victimized and actually die. And, you know, it was something that even though I lived far from Atlanta, it really affected me, it affected my childhood life in a very negative way because suddenly, we couldn’t ride our bikes wherever we wanted. And we had to be very dubious of strangers, and it just changed the temperature of my childhood in a way that crime normally does — that fear of being victimized. The fear of the unexpected violence really shaped that early part of my childhood.

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