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Karen Slaughter Answers the 10 Things Her Fans Most Want to Know


Karin Slaughter’s Unseen lands today! To celebrate, the beloved author shared with us some of the questions she gets from her many super-fans, and how she usually replies. 


1. Is Slaughter really your last name? I mean really as in other members of your family share your last name? Or are you actually a member of the rock band Slaughter?  EILEEN JOHNSON

Yes, it’s really my last name.  My father is a second cousin to Enos Slaughter, the hall of fame baseball player.  No relation to the rock band (but how cool would that be?)

2. Is the fabulous Will Trent based on someone you know in your personal life? LINDA GREENHAM

He is likely an amalgamation of all the men I know.  Many of my male characters (at least the good guys) share characteristics with my father.  When I was growing up, I used to follow him around the house on Saturdays while he fixed things.  Some of these things he probably didn’t know how to fix before he started, but he always figured it out.  Will is a lot like that—not just in fixing things around the house, but also in the cases he’s assigned.  He’s used to being thrown into unfamiliar territory and having to find his way out on his own.

3. Where and how did you learn so much about the Porsche 911 automobile Will restored? Your knowledge in this area is both impressive and somewhat suspicious. What gives?  DAVE O’BRIEN

I’m not sure why it’s suspicious!  I like cars, but I’m also a writer, and my job is to know about the things my characters are supposed to know about.  For instance, I’m not a medical doctor, but I talk with a lot of doctors to make Sara sound genuine.  I’m not a forensic expert, either, but I read lots of textbooks and talk to folks in that field.  I did the same with the 911; read old manuals, talked to car restorers, and of course I brought my own experience to the table—I used to own a sign company, so I have a basic understanding of wiring diagrams and how machines work (most signs are made by machines, and machines are not nearly as indestructible as HAL led us to believe)

4. They say there is a little bit of the author in their main character. Is there a little Karin Slaughter in Sara Linton (or one of your other characters)?  DARREN STULBERG

I think Sara is my ideal: she’s tall, has red hair and is a doctor.  I don’t know any woman my age who hasn’t wanted to be at least one of those things (if not all three) in her life.  I think probably I’m a bit closer to Faith, because she can be grumpy and introverted.  Or Amanda, because she’s a bit bossy and opinionated.  If there’s a part of me in Sara, I think it’s my sense of fairness. And I love greyhounds.  And swimming.  Okay, maybe there’s more of me in Sara than I thought.

5. Your knowledge of the characteristics and feelings of a person with a learning disability is spot on, which leads me to ask, has someone with a learning disability inspired you to include such a strong leading character with a learning disability in your books? (I am a special education teacher :)  JENNIFER TOWELL

First, thank you very much.  It’s an author’s job to put herself in the shoes of her characters.  I have help, of course.  I know someone with dyslexia far worse than Will’s who tells me stories about how difficult it is to do things we take for granted.  A combination lock, for instance—it’s easy to remember the numbers, but left and right are another matter.  I often speak with a friend who is a special education teacher.  She gives me insight into the mechanics of language disorders, which I try to express through Sara.  My primary goal with Will is to show that he’s a very bright and capable person.  Literacy is such a benchmark for intelligence, and I have to find other ways to show that he’s really good at his job.

6. Amanda is hell on wheels but I love the way she pushes Will because she knows what he is capable of doing, even though he may not know it himself. Did you have someone in your life like her? Someone who pushed you to accomplish goals that you may have thought were impossible. By the way I would love to be Amanda when I grow up and boss men around. LINDA PATTON (Amanda is one of my favorite characters.)

I’m glad that you appreciate how much she pushes Will.  He has a tendency to play things safe, to try to blend in, keep his head down and get through the day.  Amanda—and Faith—both push him on his job.  And of course at home now he has Sara, who isn’t so much pushing as pulling him out of his shell.  I really love their relationship because I think it shows how being with the right person can change you for the good.  We see in spades what being with the wrong person has done to Will.  And by the way, you can boss around anybody if you’ve got the right attitude.  It’s like trying to speak French—do it with arrogance and conviction and no one will question you!


7. Any chance that the books will be converted into a tv show or movie?  RUTH LEWIS

Both the Grant County series and the Will Trent series have been optioned for TV.  I co-wrote the Grant County pilot script and I plan to co-write the first Will Trent script, which will be based on Triptych.  It’s really a different beast writing a script vs. writing a book.  With a novel, I’ve got pages and pages of exposition open to me.  With a script, every page is roughly a minute of screen time, so I’ve had to be much more judicious.  I’m not sure when (or if!) either of these projects will appear on your screen, but it’s been a remarkable lesson for me in the economy of writing, so either way, I hope the experience has made me a better storyteller.

8. How does it feel to be a vampire? You do know you were a vampire in Charlaine Harris's last Sookie book, "Dead Ever After". Karin the Slaughterer!!! I love southern books, being from there myself. CHERYL BYERS 

Being a naturally pasty person, I figured I wouldn’t miss the sun, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.  Plus: no cupcakes.  What’s fantastic about it is that Charlaine Harris is one of the most wonderful authors—and people—I know.  I’m a Sookie fan from way back, and appearing in the last (so she says) Sookie novel was a real treat.  I won the right at an auction to benefit libraries, and though I am a huge library supporter, it was all about being in the book for me.  

9. Who translates your books to the other languages? CHRISTOPHER CHEEK

I have different publishing houses in each of the countries I’m published in, and they choose their own jackets, titles, translators, etc.  They have to find something that works for their market (for instance, my Dutch jackets are very artful and atmospheric, but that same look would signal a very different kind of book in the US).  Most importantly, they have to find a translator who understands my work.  In many countries, I have very good relationships with the translators and have known them for years.  I think it’s good to be able to answer their questions, because even though the translators tend to be incredibly smart people, there are certain southern colloquialisms that just don’t translate well into, say, Danish or Chinese.  So, being able to have a conversation about word choice and content is vital.

10. Would you rather be able to speak every language fluently or be able to speak to & understand animals? DIANE POPE

My first impulse was to say, “duh, animals,” but then I had this flash of getting a phone call at 3 a.m. and hearing, “It’s Snowball.  Tell them I want to go outside.  Now.”  I mean, I’d basically have every animal in the world wanting me to do their bidding, and it’s bad enough having two cats in my home who already do that.  So, I’ll pick fluency in every human language.  At the very least, I would be able to finally answer the question: is Dutch a pretend language or is it actually real?

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