Earlier this year HarperCollins Holland published the Dutch translation of the latest thriller by Karin Slaughter, The Silent Wife (Dutch: Verzwegen). The Silent Wife (set to be released in the US on August 4th) is part ten in the Will Trent series and her twentieth book overall. We got in contact with Karin to ask her how she’s getting through her anniversary year.
First of all: congratulations on your new thriller, The Silent Wife, the latest installment in the Will Trent and Sara Linton series. How are you? How are your cats? Are they sick of you being home all the time yet? ? What have these corona times been like for you?
I’m doing great. I didn’t realize that my lifestyle has a name and it’s called Quarantine. So, other than the horror of seeing how others have been affected by this—losing their jobs, their lives, losing family members—there is just nothing that I could complain about, personally. The cats are very sick of me being around. They keep looking at my suitcases like What’s going on? Why aren’t you leaving? We don’t understand. And the most exciting thing is that we have a Hawk in my backyard. He has murdered many squirrels and left them floating in the fountain outside of the kitchen.
We’ve read your recent creation and now hope you’ll let us ask you a few questions.
What made you decide to let the Sara Linton series and the Will Trent series flow into one?
The short explanation is that Sara and Jeffrey were too happy, and happy people are very boring to read about. I wanted to make a change and write stories outside of Grant County. For the fourth book in the Grant County series I started thinking about building a world in which Sara (and sometimes Lena) could thrive. That is why I created the Will Trent series, because I knew that eventually Sara could join it. And I wanted to work on making Will the type of man that Sara would be interested in.
Why did you choose to let Jeffrey Tolliver play a part in this story? What was it like to write about him again after all these years?
It was really fun to write about him. I wrote about him previously in the short story that I did with the American author, Michael Koryta. I wanted to write about Jeffrey and Sara’s relationship at a time period I’ve never written about before—which is about a year after their divorce when she is still really pissed off at him. I thought that would be a lot of fun to do in my 20th book—sort of a recap of where we were then and where we are now. Because you can see in this book that Sara is mindful of the mistakes that she made with Jeffrey and she’s trying to not make them again with Will. That felt like an important story to tell.
I thought the way the past and present are interwoven in The Silent Wife was really well thought-out and well executed. It works, even though you “cheated” a little with the story line and timelines, compared with the Grant County series. Why did you do that? Are you afraid some readers might get upset about it?
I never worry about readers getting upset about small details as long as I tell a good story. I think they can be very forgiving. And I did put a disclaimer in the beginning that I’m messing with the timeline on this story. The reason I did that is I thought it would be too distracting to read a book where no one really had cell phones. They were using fax machines. They were driving car models that haven’t been made in years. I didn’t want those small details to take the reader out of the story. Also, I’ve done a lot of heinous things to Sara over the years but I am not going to make her turn 40.
What’s the biggest difference between Will and Jeffrey, in your opinion? Why did you choose to make them so different from one another, but both so loved by Sara?
That was a really important thing for me, especially writing about them in the same book, to make it clear that they are very different people. One thing that they both have which Sara’s drawn to is a moral compass—they both want to do the right thing. What sums it up best is when Sara is thinking about the two men and she says that there were hundreds of women who could love Jeffrey just as intensely as she did. But she was the only woman in the world who could love Will the way he deserved to be loved. That line really resonated with me and shows the difference between the two. You know, Jeffrey expects everyone to love him and be interested in him and see him as a leader. And Will is the guy at the party who is in the corner petting the dog.
As the series with Will Trent progresses, you see Will exposing more and more of himself (eh, emotionally), even though he continues to be insecure with Sara and they still find it difficult to talk to each other about problems. Will always seems to think it’s his fault when they have an argument or “issue”. Will there be a time where Will believes in himself more and lets Sara in completely? Why (not)? Or would that mean the end of the series?
In this book he does say to her, “this is my limit.” And it freaks her out because usually she is the one who is mad at him. To have the shoe on the other foot just throws her for a loop. I don’t think that would mean the end of the series. I think relationships have a certain percentage of insecurity, a certain percentage of happiness, and a certain percentage of irritation. Sometimes it is shared in equal parts. Sometimes one person has more of it than the other.
Faith is a fantastic character – tough on the outside, soft on the inside. I have a great amount of respect for the way she handles everything: a demanding job, diabetes, being a single mother to a pubescent son in college and to a stubborn toddler. Will Faith ever meet The One? (I really wish that for her!)
I think she’s met several “ones” but she’s screwed them all up. She just has to be in control of everything. But in THE LAST WIDOW she met a guy and—no one knows this—but she’s been secretly seeing him on the side. And maybe we’ll hear about that in a coming book.
(Almost) every book you write deals with social issues, like the oppression of women. Why is it so important to you to use subjects like this as a guideline in your books?
I think it is important to show all different types of women. In Faith you have a working mother. In Sara you have a doctor who comes up her own problems being a woman in that field. In Lena you have someone who absolutely has a chip on her shoulder about being a good cop. I like writing about this diversity in women who have real problems just like my readers have. I think it makes them interesting. The fact that they aren’t superheroes but that they have real problems, like Sara dealing with her family. Or Faith dealing with her son and a toddler. Lena dealing with the chaos that she creates. Amanda’s great too, because every woman knows an “Amanda,” who get to the top, climbs that ladder, and then kicks anyone in the teeth who tries to follow her up. Having these women who are realistic shows the good and bad of being successful as a woman.
I’ve heard that the next book will be a standalone. After that, will you give us a new Will Trent book? Do you have any ideas for the next book in the series?
Absolutely. I’ve been thinking about the next book for Will and Sara. It is probably going to center on something blowing up in Faith’s life.
Can you tell us anything about your next book?
It is a stand-alone. It has a lawyer as the lead character. Someone dies. And that is all I’m going to tell you.
Have you ever considered starting a new series?
I feel like if I wanted to write a new series I would. I haven’t found the right characters for that. But as far as series go, I enjoy writing Will and Sara books, so I’ll stick to that. And my standalones keep my mind engaged when I have ideas that don’t fit in the Will Trent world.
Many of your stories contain the most gruesome events. Where did your interest in putting such gory scenes in your stories come from?
I think a lot of people are interested in these details. When I started writing I made the choice to write about violence—and specifically violence against women—in an honest way. I was very concerned about the softening of language around sexual assault and harassment. Because there is a tendency to gloss it over or to make it—in the worst cases—sexy or use it for entertainment. And I wanted to show it for what it is, which is horrific and devastating and life altering for women who experience it.
For the past twenty years, you’ve published a book every year. Does writing books get easier over time? And how do you come up with a new story each time? You’d think there would be no fresh new subjects left!
If I didn’t have any ideas, then I would stop writing. But every time I’m writing a new book, I am always thinking of ideas for the next two, or sometimes three, books. I really love what I’m doing and I feel like if I thought it was easy then that would be a sign that I need to quit because each book should be difficult because I want to try new things, I want to tell new stories. I don’t think that I’m going to run out of creative ways for people to be murdered because it is something that happens all of the time every day. And that’s really not the issue in my books. I write about crime with an unflinching eye, but the point of that is to talk about how people deal with that, how it changes their lives, and how they learn to move on from it.
You (normally) visit the Netherlands every year to promote your latest book. What’s the first thing you think of when you think of the Netherlands? What is it like for you not to be able to get on the road to promote your book now?
No, mostly I think about all of the times I’ve been in cars going back and forth across the Netherlands—going to places like Friesland, Haarlem, Breukelen, Deventer—and seeing the same families that I’ve been seeing since the beginning. Except now the little kids who were dragged along with their moms have their own children and they are dragging them along. Which is horrifying to see. I’m very sad I’m not going to be in the Netherlands because I’ve gone at least once—sometimes two or three times—per year to the Netherlands and Flanders. I used to go to the book festival that is in Flanders in the Fall. I’m just really sad that I’m not going to be doing that this year. I hope that we have this all figured out next year and I’m able to visit then.
Which author(s) do you like to read?
To name a few…
If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and why? How would you spend that day?
Probably Will because he wouldn’t talk much and I could get him to fix things.
You wrote a book(let) with Lee Child. Is there anyone else you’d like to write a book with some day? Or was this a one-time thing?
It might be a one-time thing. I love Lee, I’ve known him for almost twenty years. We get along very well and we are fans of each other’s work. So the story felt like a natural, organic thing for us to write. I’m not sure there is anyone else that, as a writer, I have that kind of connection with. Though I do have lots of friends who are writers. I just don’t know if we would write together.
What’s your favorite recipe? Would you share it with us?
The Cakie. It’s cake with a solid layer of cookie in the middle. You can find the recipe here.
Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 37 languages, with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her nineteen novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated Cop Town and the instant New York Times bestselling novels Pretty Girls and The Good Daughter. Her most recent novel, The Last Widow, features Sara Linton and Will Trent. A native of Georgia, Karin currently lives in Atlanta. Her novels Cop Town, The Good Daughter, and Pieces of Her are all in development for film and television. (original text: karinslaughter.com) www.queenofcrime.nl / www.karinslaughter.com