Where do you get your ideas?
I wish I knew! The stories form in my mind over a period of time, and before I know it, I’m sitting down at my computer writing. Mostly, it’s a matter of thinking of a crime and wondering how Sara, Jeffrey and Lena will respond. I’m also interested in seeing how the town will respond. It’s very important to me that Grant County seems like a fourth narrator in the story. There are a lot of recurring characters, so for instance when you see Old Man Burgess in Indelible, you know exactly who he is and you know some of his history. To me, that’s the best thing about reading a series. Those secondary characters really add to the fabric of the story.
What’s your writing schedule?
Unfortunately, I’m not very disciplined. I’m more of a “run off into the mountains and write until I collapse” author. I wish I could be more structured, but it’s been working for me so far, so who am I to judge?
How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends on what the book is about and how much research is involved. I’d say on average that the whole process takes around ten to twelve months. Sometimes it goes more quickly, sometimes more slowly. I never want to be in a position where I am rushing a story, and thankfully my publishers are very patient.
How do you do your research?
I’ve got a friend who is a cop who tells me some procedural stuff and a handsome and kind doctor friend who fills me in on medical details. Mostly, it’s a matter of me thinking up some plot point and then emailing them and asking, “hey, is it okay if Lena wears sneakers (women in crime shows on TV are always running in six inch heels)?” or “can Sara cut this person open and still have him live?”
I also read a lot of medical books and police manuals. I think I would do this even if I weren’t writing thrillers because I just find it so interesting. I will say that for every book or paper I read, or hour I spend doing research, I end up putting in a line or two at the most in the books.
I wrote you an e-mail, how come I never heard back from you?
I sometimes take awhile to reply to e-mails, but I do write back to everyone who asks a question. I get a surprising number of bounced e-mails to my replies, where the mailbox is full or the address is bad. Spam filters can also be at fault sometimes for people not seeing my replies.
If you just wrote to tell me that you love my books, thank you!! I might not have written back to you but please know that I read and appreciate very much hearing that from all of my readers. If you wrote to tell me that you don’t like something I did in one of my books, I may not have written you back depending on how upset you sounded in your e-mail. I respect your right to feel what you feel, and I’m not going to try to talk you out of your feelings.
If you didn’t get a reply to your e-mail, you may also have asked something that I covered in one of these Frequently Asked Questions. I really wish more people would read these questions and answers before sending e-mail. I love to hear from my readers, but the more time I spend on e-mail, the less time I have to write books!
Can I send you my manuscript so that you can get it published? or, I sent you my six-thousand page manuscript on Unicorns helping heal adult survivors of child sexual abuse. Why haven’t you responded?
Please do not send me manuscripts. My publisher and agent have asked that I not read them and I have to honor their requests. In this day and age, when charges of plagiarism are rampant, I have to protect myself.
Are you related to author Frank Slaughter?
No. Basically, I am the most famous Slaughter I know, unless you count a great uncle who was wanted by the revenuers for running moonshine.
What authors do you like to read?
I’ve read all of Kate Atkinson’s stuff. I adored Case Histories. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters was one of my all-time favorites. Mo Hayder is fabulous. Peter Robinson, Fidelis Morgan, Mark Billingham, Lee Child, Lynda LaPlante… the list could go on. I also read a lot of books outside the thriller genre. I think Kathryn Harrison has written The Great American Novel about three times now. Margaret Atwood and John Irving have enviable careers because they’ve written in so many different styles. I also enjoy Neil Gaiman and Kelley Armstrong. Basically, if it’s a well-written story with solid characters and a real plot, then I’m there.
I signed up for your newsletter but I haven’t gotten it!
Okay, I’m lazy. There haven’t been many newsletters lately, but I swear I’m working on it. Usually, I write them around the time of publication so y’all will go out and get the latest book. Yes, I am a slug, but at least I’m an honest one.
Could you please donate a book/send an autographed photo/make a financial contribution to __________?
Due to the volume of requests I get, I simply can’t honor every request. I think the fairest way to do this is to not consider solicitations for donations through my website. See this page for a partial listing of causes I support.