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 is 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.

I have the great fortune of being able to ask agents at the GBI, or retired cops, for pointers and tips about solving (and committing!) crimes.  A doctor friend of mine has been helping me since Kisscut so that Sara seems like she knows what she’s doing.  Mostly, it’s me thinking a lot and trying to figure out a plot and then I call on the experts and say, “I need a cop to search this house and find this clue.  How would they get a warrant?” or “I want Sara to stick her hands into a man’s chest and pump his beating heart.  Tell me the steps.”  I hope very much that the FBI is not monitoring my emails with these folks because we’re probably on a list somewhere.

How do you do your research?

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!

I wrote you an email, how come I never heard back from you?

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.
















Can I send you my manuscript so that you can get it published? Or, I send you my six-thousand page manuscript on Unicorns helping heal adult survivors of child sexual abuse. Why haven’t you responded? 

Nope, but I admire his career.  He was quite the prolific author.  I am, however, related to Enos Slaughter, the baseball hall of famer.  He is my grandfather’s brother, but they never got along in life so I never had the chance to meet him.  My dad has some great stories, though, and it was really cool that I got to wear his number when I threw out the first pitch at a Yankee’s game.

Are you related to author Frank Slaughter?

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.

What authors do you like to read?

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.

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.





Could you please donate a book/send an autographed photo/make a financial contribution to_____?