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Karin Slaughter: 2017 National Book Festival

Karin Slaughter: 2017 National Book Festival


>>From the library of
Congress in Washington DC.>>Nora Krug: I have the pleasure of
introducing Karin Slaughter today. And, first thing first is she gets
this question a lot, I think it. That is her real name. And, she’s the author of 17
books including pretty girls, copies books are hugely popular. 35 million books. Amazing. Her crime stories
are vivid and detailed and feature some strong female
characters, and as you know, she does not shy away
from violent incidents. In fact, she has been
known to autopsy reports to insure her murder
sound authentic. I do. Her latest book
is The Good Daughter, and it’s a nail-biting tale about the [inaudible]
of Pikeville, Georgia. And, the story takes us back
in time to a horrific crime that tore her family apart. And, it’s a cold case that
becomes less so 28 years later when a second murder drudges up terrible memories
and long buried secrets. And, if you don’t have it,
you can buy a copy here. I’m thought going to give
any more of the story away. And, one of the bonuses is
being at the festival is that yeah can buy the book
and you can get a copy signed. In addition to her writing, Karin
is an advocate for libraries. She’s the founder of the
Save the Libraries Project which is an organization
that raises money for DeKalb County library foundation
in Georgia which is her home state. We are thrilled to have Karin
here to tell us about herself, her writing, her latest book, and perhaps what we can look
forward to in the next one. So, please join me in
welcoming Karin Slaughter. [ Applause ]>>Karin Slaughter:
Thank you very much. Thank you, Nora. And, also thank you to the
wonderful volunteers here today who have been doing
such a great job. Authors are basically incapable
of doing anything on their own and so they’ve been telling us
you can stay here for ten minutes, you can eat here, you
can go to the bathroom. And, now, they brought me here. So, we have them to thank for that. Hopefully, this isn’t it. I’ll eventually end
up at the airport. But, you know, normally when
I do events I don’t really — I don’t read from my book
unless someone wants me to. And, then I only read
from the very end. So, does anyone want me to read? No. Okay. So, what I do
is I’m from the south. I’m from Georgia so I do
what all good southerners do. I make fun of my family. I tell you a little bit
about my writing process. And, then, hopefully, by
then, I’ve talked long enough so that you can ask some questions. I will say please don’t
give spoilers. Like if a character you loved is no
longer in the series or something like that, please don’t
ask about that. You can email me directly
from my website or Facebook. If you’re here to beat
me up because that, my publicist is right here,
and it was her decision. So, or one of the many
helpful volunteers. They’re in the purple shirts. Since Nora and also — thank you
so much Nora for volunteering to do this because, you know,
it’s football season, right. It started to do so to show
up here is a big thing. But, I am a big library supporter. Not just my local library which
is DeKalb County in Georgia, but the Save the Libraries
projects does give block grants to other libraries across
the country and actually in the United States and
England and the Netherlands. We tried in France but they didn’t
understand libraries needing money. They said we don’t do
that, we just raise taxes. Why don’t you do that in America. And, I said this is
why people hate France. But, we do try to give
internationally. Today, we’ve raised over
$300,000 for libraries. So, thank you. [ Applause ] And, we try to give block grants,
and we tell them do what you want. If you need to paint the place,
if you need a reading program for kids, whatever you need. Don’t not for vacation. We had to be really
specific about that because someone ended up in Tahiti. But she got an amazing
tan, I will say that. But, you know, I’m a big supporter of libraries though I don’t
necessarily like children. I find them kind of self-centered. The poor motor control. I just — you know, when
they’re 25 and up, yes. But, that’s one of the
reasons why I support libraries because children are so
selfish, and if they read books, they start to understand
that there’s a world out outside of them, you know. A herald has a purple crayon,
I have a purple crayon, so this is not the only
purple crayon in the world. You know, something
as basic as that. If I think about the books
the librarians gave me like Are You There
God, It’s Me, Margaret. Or [inaudible] Flannory
O’Connor, Gone With The Wind. You know, for all its flaws. The books that I grew
up loving and reading, I have really informed
my life as a writer. No more so than Flowers in the Attic
come I thought was a beautiful love story until I was in my early 20’s and then I thought
someone said something about incest and I was like what. So, you know, I’m probably the only
person here with Game of Thrones. I was like yeah, I see it. I see it. So, you know,
also the important thing about libraries is children who
learn to read do better in school. If they do better in school
then they go to college. If they go to college then they
get better jobs then they pay higher taxes. So, this is something a Republican,
a librarian, or a Democrat or a Communist, anybody
can understand that. It’s a small investment. There’s also all kinds of studies
about the brains of children. That children who read
develop pathways in their brain for critical thinking that children who do not read fluently
never will develop. If you talk to anyone in the
criminal justice system something like 80% of all kids who
have contact with the law or with the criminal justice
system are functionally illiterate. So, think about how much
cheaper it would be just to put a book in their hands. And that’s what we try to do. So, you know, even though I don’t
like children, I do want them to be able to pay for my
social security, Medicare. All of that stuff that I’m
going to need later on. And, you may say well, you’re an
author too so you want libraries to be open because
they buy your books. Yes, it’s all very self
serving, but we are a non profit. So, thank you for listening to my
little spill about the libraries. Like I said, I grew up in
a small south Georgia town. I’m the youngest of three girls. My sisters are, you
know, when I was growing up were horrible hateful people. When people say why are so drawn to
violence, I say because I lived it. We did things like we beat each
other, we spit in each others faces. I broke my sisters leg once. I told her. I said if you don’t give me back
my Kate Jackson trading card, I’m going to break your leg. She would not give it back. I broke her leg. So, from a very early age
I’ve been a person of my word. But, you know, when you live in
the south, especially in Georgia when you say you go on
vacation, it’s like when you go to a restaurant and you order
a Coke they say diet or regular because Coke is what soda is,
well, vacation means Florida, and it mean specifically
the redneck Riviera which is the Florida Panhandle. Every summer we would go there. My dad was a — I love him to death,
but he was a really tough dad. And he was the original
story teller in our family. And most of his stories
had cautionary tales. You know, he had three girls
so he had to keep us in line. So, one of his favorites
was about the little girl who touched the thermostat and died. Or the little girl who left the
refrigerator door open and died. And, so, when we would go
to Florida, my dad would be in the front seat and he would have
a cigarette in one hand and a glass of scotch in the other and he
would drive with his knees. And, he would drive —
it was a six hour trip. He always wanted to make
it in under five hours. And, so, he didn’t let us
turn on the air conditioning because that waisted gas. So, he would role the windows down. You know, it was about 120,000
degrees outside, and I would be in the back seat on the hump
because I’m the youngest. And, I shouldn’t complain because
I’ve got remarkably strong thighs because I just had to
hold everything together. And, my sisters were
on either side of me. And, you know, my dad
didn’t believe in the radio because he thought it wasted gas. Most of the trip was quiet car
because we would get in fights. You know, she’s touched
me, she’s breathing on me, she’s thinking about me. And, we would start
slapping each other. My dad would pull over. And, the rule was we all
got spanked no matter what. But, the joke was on him because
thighs were basically numb from sitting on the
back of his vinyl seats. And, we would get up and
it sound like Velcro. So, he was spanking
basically dead nerves there. But, one of the ways that he kind
of transported us away from the heat and the oppression was
he would tell us stories. And, he love making fun of his
family because that’s what you do when you’re in the south is you
just make fun of people who are in your family though it’s
very rude if someone makes fun of your family, I want
you to know that. And, my dad would talk
about my aunt Bertha. And, my aunt Bertha, she
was born with a hair lip. And, the church raised
money to get it fixed but she would not get it fixed
because she said she was touched by Jesus when she was born. And, so, she worked at the local
Bingo parlor, and she would get up there and she would
call out the numbers on the ball and she would say B44. Or I shitty shit. And, I would remember as a kid
hearing my dad tell this story I’m thinking holy crap, if you
tell stories you can curse. And, if you read my books
I curse all the time. I get a lot of letters for that. You know, the child molesters, the
murderers, the rapist, they’re okay. But, God forbid you should
have a woman say the F word. So, that’s kind of
something that shaped me as a writer is my dad
telling these stories because he grew up very poor. Literally, dirt poor. He was one of nine kids. His mother and father
very, very poor. They squatted in shacks. And, when the owner of the shack
would come sometimes with a shotgun and say you got to move your family
out, they would take the boards with them so the next shack they
wouldn’t have to sleep in the dirt. And, my grandfather
was a horrible person. He was kicked out of the clan for
not taking care of his family. If you wondered if
they had standards, apparently that’s the one. And, you know, it wasn’t a very
good life for my grandmother. One thing that the kids always
tried to do was tell her a story that would make her
laugh or make her smile. So, that was something that
really very early on I learned as a kid was, you know, if you can
make grandma happy then you’ve won the day. And, she loved this magazine
called True Crime magazine. Do you guys– maybe some older
here– remember True Crime? It was basically snuff porn. And, there was always like the
last line would say she should of listened to her husband
or her father was right. And, it was all about
woman getting murdered. Just constantly murdered and
ravished and all these things. And, the magazine was only
available on the bad side of town where we grew up at
the Piggly Wiggly because they carry
that kind of trash. And, so, every Sunday my
grandmother would go to church and then she would go
to the Piggly Wiggly and get this magazine,
the latest edition. Then she would go to
our Kroger to get food. And, then she would go home and
she would cook our Sunday dinner and she would read the magazine
while dinner was cooking. Well, then, we would pull up and
then, you know, we’d go inside. This was back when you didn’t really
have to see children so we had to disappear once we
kissed her cheek. And, we would go and we
would look for that magazine. And, we would read
through Crime magazine. And, every Sunday night, we
just cried ourselves to sleep. And, our parents thought it was
because of the sermon, right, that we had heard that
Sunday morning but it was because we were afraid there was
going to be a hook on the door. And, my dad didn’t help matters
because he love scaring us. You know, at Christmas where
your dad gets up and he’s like on the roof, you
know, ho, ho, ho, he would do that in the summer
time and he would say oh, that’s the goblin who
eats little girls who don’t listen to their father. So, you know, we have this sense
of terror and we have this sense of reading crime stories with
something you should be ashamed of. But, one thing we can all agree
on is when you went to church on Sunday you showed your best face. And, my grandmother loved
taking us to church. It was her favorite thing to do. And, one Sunday, Easter Sunday — because my parents
were really careful. My grandmother children was
literally one generation away from snake handling. My grandmother would say oh,
preacher didn’t believe enough and he died from snake bit. And, so, we would go to church with
my grandmother on Easter Sunday. The only reason we were
there was to show off, right, so she could show what good kids we
were and that we had good manners. And, we were all in those pink
dresses with the white shoes and the underwear with the
ruffles which was weird. My sister was 16. She got a lot of phone numbers. But, you know, my grandma
would introduce us to her friends after service. And this was a real service. It was four hours, right. And we weren’t allowed to go
to the bathroom or talk or draw on something, so basically,
this is how I learned how to sleep with my eyes open. But, she would introduce us and she would say this is Mrs.
Smith or this is Mrs. Jones. And, as soon as the woman
would turn her back, my grandmother would
say something awful like well, you know, she drinks. Or, you know her husbands a cheat. And, so, I had this sense
from a very early age that everybody had
a deep dark secret. And, if you read my books,
everybody has a deep dark secret. I have my grandmother
to thank for that. But, the Christmas
before she died — I’m sure there are some
southerners in here and you know southern grandmothers
are incredibly hard to please. And, my grandmother was
right up there with them. I remember my dad bought her
a frying pan and she found out it cost $12 and she
made him hang it on the wall because she said something
that expensive should be art. And, she had like a
closet full of hats that were too expensive to wear. So, this was the type
of woman she was. You know, or like, you know,
you’d say to her oh, grandma, your hair looks nice and she’s
say do you mean it didn’t look nice before. So, at Christmas, we
decided we were going to try to get her something nice. You know, by then my
dad had kind of given up after the frying pan incident. And, so, I said well, why
don’t we get her a subscription to True Crime magazines
since she loves to read it that way she don’t have to go to the Piggly Wiggly on
the bad side of town. And, my dad was like,
you know, okay, well, at least we know she reads it. And, so, Christmas morning we’re
rolled around, and I couldn’t wait. I was just so excited about this
gift we got for our grandmother. I told you I’m the youngest so
you know I like to ruin surprises. So, we were sitting at
the breakfast table, and my dad’s rule was we could not
open presents until he was finished with breakfast which was usually
about 1 p.m. I just couldn’t stop. I just said grandma, grandma, guess
what we got you for Christmas. And she said what. Already disappointed. And, I said we got you a
subscription to True Crime magazine so you don’t have to go to the Piggly Wiggly on
the bad side of town. And, she was silent
which was very strange. And, she just looked at me. And, her bottom lip started to
quiver, and she started to cry. Just these tears pouring
down her face and her head dropped into her hands. And, she really just
started to Saab. And, my dad got up and
he said mama, you know, are you okay because we
just thought oh, my God, we finally gotten her something
that’s moved her that she wants. I’m like this is like a
magical Christmas moment. And she looked at my dad and she said I do not want the
postman to know I read that. And, so, the next business
day my dad had to cancel the magazine subscription. It cost more to cancel
it than the did to get the subscription originally,
so I think this happened a lot. I think a lot of woman were ashamed. So, I stand up here before you
knowing how ashamed my grandmother would be. Not just that I’m wearing
pants but that I’m not at home watching Georgia football. There are many strikes
for me being up here. But mostly that I write the kind
of book she would love to read but she would be horrified
to know people love — that people would know
that she loved them. But, when my grandmother
passed away, it was a really difficult
time for us. And, because we did,
we loved her so much. And, she’s buried in the Sodom
cemetery in south Georgia where all the slaughters are buried. And, there’s a preacher buried
there, the snake handler. And, he was so concerned
that there rapture would come and he would be forgotten about that
she was buried with a telephone. And, there was an actual
telephone in the coffin and a telephone line went out of his
grave and up to a telephone pole. And, this was before
cell phones, obviously. And, I guess, you know, it’s sort of like Harry Potter is the
most magician in the world but he still needs glasses. This guy thought Jesus and God would
bring the rapture but, you know, I got to call and make sure
they don’t forget about me. I don’t know what was on his
conscious, but there’s more going on than being snake
bit with that fellow. But, it terrified us, of
course, to think about a dead man in a coffin with a telephone, right. And, my dad loved that. She delighted in it. And, so, whenever we would
go visit my grandmother — she was buried up here, the
preacher was buried here, and the parking lot was here — you know, normally you
would go like straight across to see my grandmother but my
dad always made us go all the way around and under the
preachers telephone line. You remember when telephones
sounded like bells? So one time we were walking
under this telephone line. Me, my middle sister,
my older sister, and my dad was behind
us and he had a bell. And, he rang that bell, and
it’s been years of therapy. None of us quite remember
what was going on. The next thing after the
sound of that bell that any of us recall is screaming
on the floorboard of the car covered in urine. And, so, when people tell me
your books really scary me, I think that least you’re
not covered in urine. So, that’s the kind of
life I had growing up. So, people also say well, why
do you write the way you write. That’s why. I am grateful for my — the
way I was raised though. I think that between, you know, my
grandmother and my dad and my family and I mean, I can hold my own
in a fight thanks to my sisters. But, I do think that we just have that story telling
ability in our family. And, I remember a long
time ago this reporter from the Washington Post
came to interview me. And, we were up in the mountains. I have a cabin up in north Georgia
where I go to do my writing, and my dad lives down the way. And, you know, he knew that I
had somebody there so he came by to see if we needed anything. And, I had told the reporter
all these stories about my dad. You know, like the time I
had a spend a night party. It’s the last one I ever had. My dad thought it would be funny to
put a ladder up against the window and put a sheet on
his head like a ghost. But, for some reason, instead
of cutting the eyeholes, he used black magic marker. And, then he got caught when
he was climbing the ladder. And, so, we were just sitting
there minding our own business and a ladder came through
the window. Which he thought was even
funnier than the original plan. But, so, this woman who
interviewed me, she met my dad. And, he was perfectly normal. I mean, anybody have a
parent like this knows that they can pass for normal. And, he was normal
for about 30 minutes. And, she just kind of — I could
see her reporter brain saying what’s going on here. She Fed me a line. She’s trying to, you know,
gin up that southern thing. And, then she started to leave and she asked my dad the
best way to get back. And, he said well, you can
go left out of the driveway, but the more scenic route is you go
right and you cross over a bridge. And, this is not the bridge where that man was
caught molesting the boy, it’s the one where the body
was found that was burned. So, go fast over that one. And, then the next one you can
see where they drag this body. And, then she was looking at me
because the most interesting part of an interview is always
when the tape recorders off and the pencils down, and
she just looked at me like. So, that’s my dad. So, people who say
you look so normal, I can’t believe you write
these books, that’s why. I learn from my father. I’ll talk a little bit
about The Good Daughter. You know, a lot of times
people want to know where do writers get their ideas. Most of the time we lie
because we don’t know. They just happen. You know, suddenly you’re
walking down the street or you’re in your car, especially if
you write crime fiction. You know, if you’re in traffic
and somebody cuts you off, you instantly think of five
different ways to murder somebody. But, for me, a lot of times
it starts with character. And the first character I thought about in a Good Daughter
is a character named gamma. She’s the mother of two girls. We meet in the opening
chapter of the book. She’s married to a fellow
named Rusty who’s a lawyer. But, gamma is not her real name. It’s her nickname because she worked
at [inaudible] lab and she worked at NASA in the 60’s
and 70’s as a scientist which as we all know is
a very difficult time for a woman to be in STEM. It’s a little better now
we can at least say that. And, she chose to give up
that life and move home and take care of her ailing parents. And, she ended up in mountain town
in north Georgia called Pikeville which is loosely based on a lot
of towns up in north Georgia that I know about but
not one specific one. So, if you think It’s Blue
Ridge it’s actually Epiworth [assumed spelling]. And, if you think it’s Epiworth,
it’s actually Blue Ridge because I still have to
go up there and write. But, I thought about this
character a lot, and there’s a line that I wrote down about
her three years ago. And I’m a real nerd. I’ve got like a water proof note
pad in my shower and it just says up there and I write things. I clean the shower, don’t judge. But, you know, I write note
to myself in different lines. There was this one line that
came to me because when I was in ninth grade, my ninth grade
English teacher became the most important person in my life. She was an amazing woman. She was very mean which you as
you can gather I respond well to. And, we wanted to please her. You know, people talk about
performance pay and how to evaluate teachers
and that sort of thing, I think she would get
the worst evaluations because the kids were
just scared of her. But, she was the best teacher. Because I think you should be a
little scared of your teachers. I think you should
respect their authority. And, she commanded the classroom. But, she also said to me something that no one had ever
said to me in my life. She said you’re a good
writer but you can be better. And, of course, I thought I’m
pretty dam good, you know, what are you talking about. But, she put books in my hands and
she said the way you learn to — you’re a writer or
you’re not, right. And you’re a writer, and you need
to learn how to hone your craft. The best way to do that
is through reading. And, she gave me these amazing books
and she just really fostered my love of reading and writing and
learning from what I read. You know, the mind is a muscle
that you have to keep training. And, I always say when people say
I want to be a writer they need to read because that’s important. That makes you aware of how
story works and what you like in a book or don’t
like in a book. It teaches you something. And, so, she was the
one who said that to me and who really put this passion
into me about being a better writer. And, every book I start
I think about her and I want to be better every time. But, it started in ninth grade, and she was with me throughout
the last 17 years of my career. She was the second person after my
father I told about my book deal when I first got published. She was always there, and sometimes when I would travel she would
send postcards to wait for me at the hotel and tell
me how proud she was. But, she passed away
a couple years ago. And, it was really hard to lose her. But, the thing is a friend of
mine said at the time, you know, when someone dies your
relationship with them doesn’t end. And, I found that to be true. And, actually it felt
like it deepened. And, I think the reason it
deepened is she wasn’t there to tell me all the
things I was doing wrong. Because she was a difficult woman. And, you know, even literally on her death bed someone had
given her a box of chocolates. You know, those fancy handmade
chocolates — I ate them all. She was sick — but there was like
a little note explaining, you know, the cows name was Harvey
who gave the milk for this. You know that kind of crap they do
to justify like having to pay $10 for one piece of chocolate. But, there was an apostrophe
error in the note. And, she wanted me to write a
letter to the company to tell them that this was embarrassing them, and they’re chocolates
were otherwise good. But, you know, they needed to
represent themselves better, and grammar is important. And, so, we did that. And, that was just the
kind of person she was. And, you know, as a society,
we’re wired to appreciate men who are really intelligent, really
driven, really know what they want. We don’t know what to do with
woman who are that way and we tend to categorize them as difficult. And, she definitely was difficult. And, so, I wanted to write
a character like her. In this line I wrote on my
waterproof notepad is one that shows up on the first page of the book. And, it says that she was as pale
as an envelope and just as likely to inflict tiny cuts
in inconvenient places. And, that was really
her all over, you know. She could hurt your feelings a lot, the chocolate company
certainly never wrote back. But, she thought it was important that people knew what was
right and what was wrong. And, that was a character I really
felt that I could write about. And, so, that’s how
the book started. And, I gave her two daughters
who are very different daughters who have very different goals
in life, and I gave her husband who was also inspired by — well,
I guess not a real life character. But, she’s kind to me
Addicus Finch in between to Kill a Mockingbird
which, you know, Scout thinks Atticus is this saint. He’s almost this asexual being. And, then, the character
we meet Atticus Finch and go set a watchman, right. I wanted him to fall somewhere
in between those two people. And Rusty is a lawyer. He thinks that what he
does is right and just, but a lot of times he’s not
right and just in his thinking. And, it really came out
of a conversation I had with Greg [inaudible]. And, I’m saying this
because I checked and Greg [inaudible] is not here. But, I was at a dinner. There’s something called
Thriller Fest which is held in New York City every year. If you want to be a thriller rider
it’s a really great opportunity. You know, you meet a lot of authors. You meet agents. They have something
called Craft Fest. And, there’s actually even people
who are very serious about writing who have attended this conference
and ended up getting a book deal. So, it’s a very Worthwhile
thing to be a part of. But, we were all at
this author dinner, and Greg [inaudible]
was one of the authors. I won’t name drop. I was probably the
most famous one there. But, our phones started
buzzing because the exert in the New York Times of Go Set a
Watchman had just been released, and it was revealed that Atticus
Finch went to a clan meeting. And Greg is from Mississippi. I don’t want to punch down but
he’s so country that sticks come out of his mouth when he talks. And, I’m from Georgia. And, we were really — other than
Steve Berry who now lives in Florida so it doesn’t count, we were
the only southerners there. And, Greg and I got
into this heated debate because he said I don’t think a
man of Atticus Finches education, intelligence, standing, family,
would ever do such a thing. And, I had just done some research for a book I had written called Cop
Town about a guy named Leo Frank. And, that name may sound familiar to
some of you especially those of you like me who love lifetime movies. But Leo Frank was in the early
1900’s a Jewish businessman from the northeast
who moved to Atlanta and started working
at a pencil factory. And, one weekend, a year
girl — I think she was 13, Mary Faggon [assumed spelling],
was defiled and murdered and left in this factory. And, they couldn’t
find any black people so they did the next best thing. They found the Jewish guy from the
north and they pinned it on him. And, he ended up being tried for
this crime, but he was lynched. He was lynched by the towns people. And, there are photographs
of his lynching. And, his neck is literally stretched
and standing in front of him with their guns, you
know, looking like, you know, their happy about this. Their proud that they’ve just
murdered a man in cold blood, you see the son of a United States
senator, the sheriff, the policeman, the local judge, a federal judge. All these men of the high rank
in the community standing tall, standing proud in front
of this murdered man. And, so, I thought, you
know, that’s the kind of character I want to write about. And, I didn’t — I purposely
didn’t choose it to be about racial differences
because I feel like as a southerner people
especially up north tend to think racism only happens in the
south when it happens everywhere, and so I didn’t want that
to be Rusty’s fatal flaw. I wanted his fatal flaw to be that he thinks he’s
right about everything. And, to me that’s a very destructive
belief for anyone to have. You know, he never
questions himself. He always thinks that
he’s on the side of good. And, I talked to a lot
of different lawyers. You know, when I was going to
write the character of Rusty because I thought, you know, I write about a man named Will
[inaudible] in my usual books. And, I love being around
police officers. I love talking to medical
examiners and people who are in the business of crime solving. And, everybody I think
understands the job of a prosecutor because a prosecutor
puts away the bad guys. And, we watch Netflix and we
see the west Memphis three and we see what happened in
making a murderer and all that and we think oh, well, that’s bad. Those are clearly bad prosecutors. And, we like to think that
they’re an anomaly but they exist. They exist more often than
not especially in small towns because it’s an elected position. And many times a prosecutor
is incentivized to appear tough on crime. Now, there’s two reasons for that. One is, you know, they want
to keep getting elected. They want to keep their job. And, two is — and this is
very understandable to me — they don’t want to let
someone go for doing a crime and then have them commit
a more heinous crime. And, then people say
why did you let them go. Because everybody — if it’s
your cousin, or your son, or your father, you want leniency. You want justice to be fair. But, if it’s somebody
else’s son or father, you want them to have the
book thrown at them, right. I mean that’s just human nature. So, I talked a lot of
different defense attorneys. And, I live in Atlanta and
we have a lot of athletes who live there, a lot of musicians. Justin Bieber lives there
for what that’s worth. You know, they tend to get in
trouble because they’re not used to being called out for bad behavior
and so they get drug offenses or, you know, they come and they play
a game in our Georgia stadium and they end up being charged
with rape or they, you know, sometimes they murder people or they
get accused of murdering people. And, so, we’ve got some really
hot shot lawyers who deal with those people, right. And, so I wanted to talk
to that kind of lawyer. And, I wanted to talk to the
kind of lawyer that helps people who are basically without
any help, you know. The thing about the justice
system is we don’t spend lot of money helping people
navigate their way through. I think lot of people probably saw that 60 minutes episode a few
weeks back where there’s one woman in Mississippi who’s in
charge of half the state and she has over 500 clients. And, that’s the one
person in Mississippi who is representing people
who cannot afford a lawyer. So, you know, it makes
you think twice about the criminal justice system. But, so, I wanted to talk to
both ends of the spectrum. And, this one woman I spoke to,
she worked with juvenile offenders and then she later became a
judge in the juvenile courts. And, she said let me
tell you something. I had a kid many years ago,
and he was 16 years old, and he had cut grass
and done chores and all that since he was ten years
old to save up to buy a car. And, so his 16th birthday he bought
a car from somebody he didn’t know. And, he was driving home and
he get caught speeding, right. So, the cop pulls him over. And the kids an idiot so
he mouths off to a cop which you should never do. And, the cop pulls him out of
the car and searches the car. Well, he finds in the
glove box a bag of pot that the kid had put in there. And, then as he’s searching the back
seat, he finds another bag of pot that the previous owner had
left in there by accident. Kid had no idea it was back there. So, he went from being in
a little trouble to looking at four years in big boy prison. And, if you’re not a criminal
when you’re go into prison, you are when you come out. And, this woman said you know,
I had to talk to the prosecutor and say look, this is a good kid. He did something really stupid. Let’s talk about a
diversion program. He’s got family support. He’s doing well in school. Let’s not ruin his life. And, she was able to negotiate him
being on probation until he was 18 and then it was expunged. If this kid had not had that
lawyer, he would of gone to prison. He would of been in
prison for four years and his life effectively
would of been over. You know, he had enough drugs
to justify a felony offense. And, if you’re a felon in
Georgia, you can’t vote. You can’t qualify for housing
assistance or food assistance. You know, there are all sorts of
limitations that are put on you after you serve your time. You’re continually punished for it. And, there’s really no
way to get out of it. So, she said to me that
is the point of my job. And, I thought well, that’s
something I can understand, so I’m going to make Charlie,
who is one of Rusty’s daughters, I’m going to make her that kind
of attorney who looks at her job as just levelling the playing field. But, then I had to talk to the
hot shot lawyers because I wanted to get some idea of how these hot
shot lawyers depend these people who I mean come on we all
know they’re criminals right. And, so, I said to this guy who had just gotten off some
extremely wealthy drug dealer in Atlanta. There was footage of him shooting
a gun out the window of his car and he hit someone in the shoulder. And, this person was okay but
the jury exonerated the shooter. That’s how good this
lawyer is, right. And, I said to him okay,
well, how would you feel if this guy gets off — you
got this guy off and he turns around and he does it again. And, this hot shot
lawyers said well, you know what, it’s not my job. It’s the prosecutors job,
it’s the police officers job. It’s the forensics people,
it’s the medical examiner. It’s all of them. It is the state or the
federal governments job to prove that he is guilty. So, that’s not my fault
if they can’t do that. And, I thought well, that’s
why everybody hates lawyers. And, that’s the kind of lawyer I
wanted to write about with Rusty. You know, and he’ll take any case. He’ll defend an abortion clinic
or he’ll defend someone who wants to bomb an abortion clinic. You know, he sees all sides and he wants everyone
to have a great defense. And what he — the one thing
that he is not is a good father because he spends most of his
life trying to help other people but he never turns around and
sees his daughter needs help — his daughters rather need help. And, that all came out of a
conversation with Greg [inaudible] who I don’t thank in the book, but he should be glad
I’m mentioning him now. Does anyone have any questions? I hope so. Oh, come on. My publicist is here. She should have a question prepared. Why are you so young and beautiful? Here. There you are.>>Thank you. By the way, I love libraries also. When I was in my 50’s I went
back for a Master’s Inn it. Just for fun. But, I’ve got to admit, I have
never read a book of yours. And I have read a lot of books. So, I came today to hear
you so I’d say well, do I want to read her books. And I do. You are wonderful.>>Karin Slaughter: Oh, thank you.>>Can you — here’s my question. Can you advise me where to start? You have written so many.>>Karin Slaughter: Well, you know, I really like my most recent
one, The Good Daughter. I’m not saying that because it’s
the most expensive one out there. But, if you want to
just dip your toe in — well, you’ll probably go to
the library, it doesn’t matter. The — a couple of books ago, I
wrote a book called Pretty Girls. And, it’s also about sisters. Three sisters which
one of them is dead. Which I said to my
sisters if you don’t like that, write your own book. But, I think that would probably
be a good one to start with. I should say I’m talking
about all this heady stuff, but there’s really lots of sex and violence too so
if that’s your jam –>>I can deal with that. I’ve had three sisters.>>Karin Slaughter:
Oh, you know, yeah. No one else. Oh, there you go.>>Hi, I’ve read all of your books
through audio and I’ve heard this from a couple different authors
as well, but I just wanted to hear your take on the performance
they do on the audio books?>>Karin Slaughter: Well, the woman who does my audio books
is Kathleen Early. And, I hope you like her. She’s from Texas which is
not technically the south, but I think she does
the accents really good. You know, it was really
a bono contention for me on my first audio books because they
would get these really well known actress who were southern but
they would make my character sound like someone had shaken a
trailer at a trailer park and that’s what fell out. Because, you know, there’s just — I
say this knowing that Arkansas exist and there’s no way to get
rid of an Arkansas accent. But you know, different education
levels denote different accents and so she gets that. So, hopefully, you’re enjoying her. I think she does a good job.>>Yeah, [inaudible]
got me on all the books.>>Karin Slaughter: Thank you.>>You know, I was so excited
when I saw you come to town it’s like I guess seeing Tina Turner
would be the only thing exciting for me. Anyway, are you making too much
money writing books to go on a trail for comedy because you could
do stand-up I tell you.>>Karin Slaughter: Well, thank you. I appreciate that. [ Applause ] Yes.>>So, I recently read
the late Pat Conroy’s book about reading and how
he got started. And, it’s a fascinating book
how his mother read to him, teachers that intervened in his
life, and how much he reads. I recommend that book to
anyone who hasn’t read it. But, I’m curious in your life how
much you read and what you read. How do you decide what to read?>>Karin Slaughter: You know, I read
anything that strikes my fancy. I read a lot of non fiction. I just read about the
[inaudible] uprising. I thought that was fascinating. I read a lot of the authors
who are here at the festival. Dianna [inaudible]. I love Lee Child. I have his new book at home. It’s not on me so don’t rush me. I just love reading. And, I spend a great
deal of time reading. I think it’s really important to
do that because the reason I want to be a writer is I read
books and I loved them, so it’s a very important
part of my life.>>Thank you. And, I’m kind of up there in age so I can probably get
away with saying this. You look fabulous.>>Karin Slaughter:
Oh, well, thank you. Anyone can say that actually. So, we have time for
one more question or. Fast, fast.>>Hello, I wanted to say
— I’m from the south also. But, I wanted to say that I think
we have the same ninth grade English teacher. You described her perfectly
and she did change my life. And, I thank her for it every day. But, you have such a wonderful sense
of humor and you are really funny. And, but your book seem
like pretty dark subjects, and I’m just wondering
if you include that wonderful sense
of humor in your books?>>Karin Slaughter: Well,
I think they’re funny. You know, the thing is most crime
writers are really laid back. It’s the romance writers
you have to watch out for. And, I think it’s because
we get it out on the page. You know, I mention Lee Child. Mike Connelly is a teddy bear. Jeff Deaver shows dogs. I mean, we’re really mostly
just nice laid back people. But, you know, you read our
books and you think wow, should you really be
out in the world. My answer is yes. Can we get this one woman here? Nope, that’s it. I’m sorry. Thank you. [ Applause ]

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