By Ryan Trares | For The Republic
The bloody descriptions of violence are difficult to read.
A mother’s murder, a school shooting, an attempted assault are all spelled out in terrible detail. The crimes in author Karin Slaughter’s newest novel, “The Good Daughter,” are often disturbing, sticking in your mind and sending chills down your spine.
Slaughter understands how impactful these crimes can be, not just for her characters, but for the readers as well. Still, the violence serves as an important tool to get a higher message across.
“I’ve always been fascinated by what crime does to people, whether it’s investigators or medical examiners or how a crime affects a small town,” Slaughter said. “In ‘The Good Daughter,’ this was a chance to bring all of those elements together.”
Slaughter has built her career around unimaginable crimes and how that violence impacts people around them. She is the best-selling author of the Grant County and Will Trent books, numerous standalone stories and has just completed her 17th novel, “The Good Daughter.”
Just days after the release of her new novel, Slaughter will stop in Franklin to talk about her career, share insights with fans and sign copies of her best-selling books.
“The Good Daughter” revolves around the Quinn family in small-town Pikeville, Georgia. A terrible, violent night changed life forever for sisters Charlotte and Samantha Quinn. They watched as masked men murdered their mother and attacked them. Both carry the scars from that night deep within them, even nearly 30 years after the crime.
But when Charlotte witnesses another horrible act of violence, those old wounds open back up as her family and the community around her reacts to the crime.
“I love the old Victorian novels, with community and crime and poverty. It’s almost like a saga. That’s what I really set out to do: tell that kind of unique story, but in a modernized way,” Slaughter said. “I love those really in-depth stories about where the world is. Crime fiction has always done that — talked about the world as it is, rather than the world they wish it would be.”
Slaughter has been telling stories since she was 6 years old and has gone on to become one of the world’s best-selling crime authors. Her 16 previous books have been published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold around the world.
From her earliest time as a writer, she has always gravitated towards crime fiction.
“Every good story that endures has some element of crime. Think about ‘The Great Gatsby,’ it has murder and gun violence in it. ‘Gone With the Wind’ has a really bloody murder. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is a courtroom drama,” she said. “It’s something that I think is a good tool as an author to talk about character.”
Her Will Trent series and Grant County series are immensely popular and are being developed for film and television. Other standalone books, such as the New York Times bestseller “Pretty Girls,” allow Slaughter to branch out to tell unique stories.
Slaughter’s books have looked at violence from different perspectives, from police officers to prosecutors to medical examiners. “The Good Daughter” allowed her to see a crime from a new point of view: defense attorneys.
“It was really fascinating to me to talk to defense lawyers. I write about a police officer, and I write from the cops’ point of view. I have great respect for them. I think anyone can understand what a prosecutor does,” she said. “A defense attorney, there’s a lot of gray in there. It gave me an understanding about what their jobs are, and how they can help people.”
When writing the book, she recalled the Atlanta Child Murders. Between 1979 and 1981, at least 28 children, adolescents and adults were killed in Atlanta.
The crimes sparked terror and paranoia throughout Georgia and the country. Slaughter remembers what it was like during that period.
“I’m from a small town, so I know what crime and fear of crime can do to a small town during something like that,” she said. “Small towns are very insular to begin with. That made it even more so, and less welcoming to people.”
Slaughter will be part of Authors at the JCPL, a program of the the Johnson County Public Library. Franklin will be the only Indiana stop on her tour.
She starts her U.S. book tour promoting “The Good Daughter” on Monday, having already spent time in the Netherlands, Belgium and London, England.
“These are very different countries, but book stores and libraries are always the same,” Slaughter said. “Everyone loves reading, everyone wants to talk about the book that they love.”
What: An appearance by the best-selling author, discussing her 16 previous novels and her newest release, “The Good Daughter.”
When: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 10
Where: Johnson County Public Library Franklin branch, 401 State St.