Where do you get your ideas?
I wish I knew! The stories form in my mind over a period of time, and before I know it, I’m sitting down at my computer writing. Mostly, it’s a matter of thinking of a crime and wondering how Sara, Jeffrey and Lena will respond. I’m also interested in seeing how the town will respond. It’s very important to me that Grant County seems like a fourth narrator in the story. There are a lot of recurring characters, so for instance when you see Old Man Burgess in Indelible, you know exactly who he is and you know some of his history. To me, that’s the best thing about reading a series. Those secondary characters really add to the fabric of the story.
What’s your writing schedule?
Unfortunately, I’m not very disciplined. I’m more of a “run off into the mountains and write until I collapse” author. I wish I could be more structured, but it’s been working for me so far, so who am I to judge?
How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends on what the book is about and how much research is involved. I’d say on average that the whole process takes around ten to twelve months. Sometimes it goes more quickly, sometimes more slowly. I never want to be in a position where I am rushing a story, and thankfully my publishers are very patient.
How do you do your research?
I’ve got a friend who is a cop who tells me some procedural stuff and a handsome and kind doctor friend who fills me in on medical details. Mostly, it’s a matter of me thinking up some plot point and then emailing them and asking, “hey, is it okay if Lena wears sneakers (women in crime shows on TV are always running in six inch heels)?” or “can Sara cut this person open and still have him live?” I also read a lot of medical books and police manuals. I think I would do this even if I weren’t writing thrillers because I just find it so interesting. I will say that for every book or paper I read, or hour I spend doing research, I end up putting in a line or two at the most in the books.
What authors do you like to read?
I’ve read all of Kate Atkinson’s stuff. I adored Case Histories. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters was one of my all-time favorites. Mo Hayder is fabulous. Peter Robinson, Fidelis Morgan, Mark Billingham, Lee Child, Lynda LaPlante… the list could go on. I also read a lot of books outside the thriller genre. I think Kathryn Harrison has written The Great American Novel about three times now. Margaret Atwood and John Irving have enviable careers because they’ve written in so many different styles. I also enjoy Neil Gaiman and Kelley Armstrong. Basically, if it’s a well-written story with solid characters and a real plot, then I’m there.
Check out more from Karin Slaughter on the WHSmith website.