Monday, July 12, 2004

[Just got this interview in some publicity materials for Karin Slaughter's new book Indelible. This is probably a massive copyright violation of one kind of another, but what the hell, I thought I'd share it with you anyway. --ed.]

Karin Slaughter Interviewed by John Connolly

Slaughter grew up in the town of Jonesboro, about 20 kilometers south of Atlanta. "It's a very small town, or it was when I was living there. Now it's been sucked into Atlanta, like most suburbs. There was a main street, very much like the one I write about, with a courthouse and an ice-cream parlor and the law office. I always knew if I did something wrong and someone saw me, then my parents would find out by the time I got home, which is a horrible way to grow up."

Following her parents' divorce, she moved to the university town of Morrow, eventually going on to college there before dropping out when she was told that she could not keep taking English literature courses alone. (Slaughter is, it's worth noting, very southern, explaining at one point how a lot of "Yankees" have come to Georgia to study, attracted by the state's lottery-funded scholarship program. "Subsequently, the standards at our state universities have dropped considerably," she concludes, and it's hard to tell if she's joking or not.)

"I was also influenced by Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Flannery O'Connor, that sort of thing," she says. When asked why southern writers appear to have a very distinctive voice, and a very strong influence on those who fall under their sway, she replies, with a hint of tongue-in-cheek, that "we're just better. When Walker Percy won the Pulitzer prize, people asked him what made southern writers better than other American writers, and he said because we've had the Fall'. We lost the war. We also have a very strong sense of oral history. There's always a story behind even the simplest of things. The whole way that southern writers focus on characterization in the story comes from that oral history.

"I think that every writer is a regional writer, and to deny that denies who you are as a writer. I mean you really have to stay where you're from and write what you know. It’s really popular now for writers to move to the south and say that they're southern writers but, as we say, just because a cat has kittens in the oven it doesn't make them biscuits."

I found the interview online, so you can read the rest of it on John's website.