Karin Slaughter is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of twelve thrillers, including Criminal, Broken, Undone, Fractured, Beyond Reach, Triptych, and Faithless. She is a native of Georgia.
To help spread the word about the needs for community support for public libraries, Karin has spearheaded SaveTheLibraries.com. The pilot event for SaveTheLibraries.com benefitted the DeKalb library system in Georgia. A second event, planned for April, will feature Karin with Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen, and Charlaine Harris, with funds going to the Boston Public Library. Karin’s efforts and her donation of all monies received for her original short story THORN IN MY SIDE have resulted in more than $150,000 donated in less than a year.
Visit Karin’s website (www.KarinSlaughter.com) to sign up for her e-newsletter and join her on Facebook (Facebook.com/AuthorKarinSlaughter)
RH Library: My first memory of being in a library is?
Air conditioning. It was summertime, and the library was the only building that had it. I remember walking into the building and feeling the sweat on my back start to chill. I knew this was the place I needed to spend the rest of my summer.
RH Library: Do you have a favorite librarian? What my favorite librarian taught me?
I don’t think she was a “real” librarian, but the woman who drove the book mobile–a chain-smoking, child-hating terror, really galvanized my desire to read every book on the bus. She was so mean! She’d check every page of the book to make sure you hadn’t dog-eared a corner or smeared food or gotten it wet. One time, my sisters stuck a Jolly Rancher in one of my books and I wasn’t allowed to check out any more for a month! Boy, was I happy when we got the new library.
RH Library: My favorite library in the world is? Why?
I’ve visited some great systems–Cuyahoga, Ohio; Hoover, Alabama; Carmel, Indiana–but I think my favorite has to be that little library in Jonesboro, Georgia, where I first learned that there was an entire world outside my own. Growing up in a small town, there weren’t that many positive women role models outside of teaching, nursing and mothering–not to say those aren’t important jobs, but three is a lonely number. The women at the library (and they were all women) were the boss of the library. That was quite a revelation for me. I remember talking about it with my dad, and it really opened up a conversation between us, because this was the first (but not the last) time he told me that I could do anything I wanted with my life. He wasn’t a reader himself, but he knew that reading was the key to opening up all kinds of doors for me. Before that, I never knew I had options.
RH Library: Why are libraries important?
I think the best way to explain it to people is to put it in financial terms, because lots of folks think of libraries as a luxury that should be the first thing on the chopping block when governments are in need. 60-80% of all kids in the juvenile justice system are functionally illiterate. They are ten times more likely to end up in prison as adults. Look at how much money that one illiterate kid costs, and contrast it with the net benefit of a kid who does well in school, goes to college, gets a higher paying job and pays higher taxes. It’s simple math–every dollar spent on a library returns at least five dollars to the community. And there are so many things libraries offer that the average person doesn’t know about. For instance, there are computer sessions, ESL, classes on starting your own business or changing careers. Libraries are also vital to many homeschoolers because they carry textbooks that are prohibitively expensive. This isn’t just a liberal, tree-hugging issue. Tea Party folk, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians–we all benefit from the library.
RH Library: What event did you love attending at the library?
They had this summer reading contest every year, and the winner got little construction paper stars with their name and the number of books they’d read on it. I don’t wanna toot my own horn, but my bedroom was covered in stars by the time I got to high school.
RH Library: What was the best book you remember checking out of the library and loving?
Gone With the Wind–absolutely and without a doubt one of the most moving and enlightening stories of my childhood. You can easily make an argument against some of the stereotypes, but Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for very good reason. I would also say that Scarlett was a great pre-feminist icon. We know that Mitchell’s mother was heavily involved in the suffragist movement and that she raised her daughter to be independent and self-directed. Mitchell created in Scarlett a great survivor, which certainly resonated with the generation of women who had survived the Depression, sometimes holding together their families by the skin of their teeth. If you can put the story in context–not the 1860s, but the 1930s–there is so much more meaning to Scarlett’s transformation.
RH Library: If you were a character in a book who would you be?
I’d like to be Cathy from Wuthering Heights. I’d tell Linton to go screw himself and run off with Heathcliff.
RH Library: Is there any you’d like to share with librarians about your current book?
I just love the story in Criminal, mostly because my research put me in touch with some fantastic women. I think one of the most riveting conversation I had was with Valerie Jackson, the widow of former Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson. I knew mayor Jackson did some great things for the city, but I had no idea that he took great strides to make sure that women were raised up by the changing tides. He was a great believer in equality for all–not just black and white, but male and female. Also, since part of the story takes place in the 1970s, I was able to talk about some issues that are pretty hot topics now, but for some reason, are more palatable when you talk about them in the past.
I would also like to end with a special thanks to all the librarians out there who are doing the Lord’s work. Save the Libraries is just getting off the ground, but please know that more help is on the way.
If you would like to enter our Karin Slaughter Book Giveaway simply fill out our entry form.