Today’s Take 5 interview is with internationally bestselling crime novelist Karin Slaughter. You may remember that Karin guest posted with us in June.
Her latest release, BROKEN, is another page-turning suspense novel. Set in rural Georgia, when Dr. Sara Linton returns home to Grant County, Ga., for Thanksgiving, she hopes to steer clear of the police, especially Det. Lena Adams, whom she blames for the murder of her husband, police chief Jeffrey Tolliver. Yet when college student Allison Spooner is found dead in a lake and a local boy, Tommy Braham, is arrested for the murder, Sara reluctantly agrees to consult. The investigation soon spirals out of control after Tommy dies in custody. When Sara calls in Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent Will Trent from Atlanta to take over the case, the local police greet Will’s arrival with suspicion. Will must weigh Sara’s personal vendetta against Detective Adams with the facts of the case, which grow more confusing the deeper he digs into the small county’s secrets.
1. What is the premise of your new book?
The book opens with a suicide case that quickly turns into a homicide investigation. Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is called in to figure out exactly what happened to the victim as well as a suspect who was injured in police custody.
2. What would you like people to know about in this story?
I hope what they find when they read the book is that I’ve given them a real page-turner. I always write my books on two levels–one for sheer enjoyment, and the other to tackle some social issues. In Broken, I talk about rural poverty. We hear a lot about urban poverty but we don’t hear much about people living in the margins of small towns. There are not many safety nets for these people, and I wanted to draw attention to that fact.
3. What problems and challenges do your characters have to overcome in this story?
The biggest challenge to Will is the insular nature of small towns. I grew up in a small town, so I know that people tend to hide the worst parts of their personalities. Will is also caught between two women–Detective Lena Adams and Dr. Sara Linton–who don’t really get along. What he finds out is that they are both right and wrong about each other. As a writer, I like that you can’t trust the narrators 100%. That adds another level of mystery I can play with.
4. What unique challenges did this story present you, if any?
Going back to Grant County after being away for a few years was quite a challenge. I wanted to show the town in a new way, and I think I achieved that through Will and Sara. Sara hasn’t been back in town in four years, and everything looks very different for her. She’s always been close to her family, but having been away means that she doesn’t feel like she quite fits in. And then there’s Will, who’s never been to town before. He offers a very different take from what readers usually get.
5. What has been the most rewarding aspect of this book?
I think that I was able to accomplish everything I wanted as far as the character development and the story-telling. With Sara and Will, there’s a delicate dance, and I want to make sure that nothing is every easy for them. I made some big changes in the series a while back and I wanted that to be for a good reason. What happened resonates with the characters, and what we find in Broken is that everyone has changed.