Can you tell us a little about Leigh Collier?
KS: Leigh Collier is a mother and a wife. She’s a hot shot lawyer. She’s clever and she has an edge. Having the book take place during a pandemic helped me establish one fact about Leigh that in any other situation could make readers hate her: she is a mother who is not living with her teenage daughter. Leigh’s kid is safely living with a very supportive, loving husband while Leigh is exposed to the virus in jails and courthouses and the office, which makes her commendable for her sacrifice rather than the worst thing you can call a woman: a bad mother.
False Witness jumps between timelines – how does that serve the story?
KS: I write a lot about childhood trauma and how the tendrils of childhood abuse reach far into adulthood. We know that early trauma can lead to health consequences such as heart disease and late onset diabetes as well as lead to a pre-disposition toward anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction, and anger issues. The story of Leigh and Callie is its core a study how adults survive—or don’t—horrific events from their past.
How do you approach standalone novels differently to novels in your series?
KS: Each has its pluses and minuses. With standalones like False Witness, I have to do a lot of thinking about who the characters are. It’s very important to make sure each and every one has their own voice and a distinct perspective. When I’m doing standalones, where I’ve written about Sara and Will and the gang for years, it’s a bit simpler because what I need to think about is the emotional journey and where I want to leave them for the next story.
The Netflix production of Pieces of Her is being filmed in Sydney and stars two Aussie stars Toni Collette and David Wenham – how did the Australian connection come about?
KS: We were so lucky to get two amazing powerhouses locked in early on. I’ve been a huge fan of Toni Collette’s since Muriel’s Wedding (which shows how old I am!). Initially, they were set to film in Vancouver, but then the pandemic hit and fortunately, Bruna Papandrea (who optioned the book) is an Australian lady who knows how to get shit done in Australia. Netflix also jumped in to make sure it would happen, for which I am eternally grateful. The fact that the country took the virus seriously and put in protocols to make people feel safe (including that onerous but necessary two-week quarantine for all the crew flying over) made it possible to film there.
We love to hear about the daily habits of writers…what does a writing day in the life of Karin Slaughter look like?
KS: When I am deep into writing a story, I drive up to my cabin in the North Georgia mountains and stay for two weeks at a time. My routine hasn’t varied much over the years. I get up. I write. I eat meals if I am hungry. I write some more. I go to sleep. I get up and write again. It’s lovely to be alone with my laptop and work through the puzzles at the center of the book.
False Witness by Karin Slaughter is now available online and in-store.