Shining a spotlight on celebrities and athletes who love to travel. Created and developed by Stacy Steponate Greenberg.
Goodreads Choice Awards, Edgars Awards, Best-Seller Lists, the accolades go on and on for author Karin Slaughter, who has captivated the mystery arena worldwide using her real name….Slaughter. The Atlanta based author carved her niche with her first book, Blindsighted, which begat the Grant County series. From there she went on to two other series, and a slew of other successful novels. The Washington Post calls her “one of the best crime novelists in America” and her latest stand-alone, New York Times Best Seller Pretty Girls, will give readers a chill in their bones. The Overhead Compartment cautiously met up with Karin Slaughter to learn about her mystery mind, her ability to scare her readers, and the irony that is her last name.
The Overhead Compartment with Karin Slaughter begins now….
OC: What is the funniest joke you’ve ever heard about your last name?
KS: Well…I am not inclined to think they are funny, but a lot of kids called me Sergeant Slaughter after the tough guy from the GI Joe series. When you’re a little girl, that’s not the kind of comparisons you want made.
OC: Should we find it ironic that your last name is “Slaughter” and you write thrillers?
KS: It never occurred to me why people kept asking if that’s really my last name. I grew up with it, so it was like asking John Smith if it’s funny that his last name is Smith. It wasn’t until I was on the London tube that I understood why the name was so funny to people. I was riding up an escalator and I saw this giant sign that said SLAUGHTER, and I thought, “wow, that’s scary!” and then I got closer and saw there was a tiny “Karin” above it. That’s when it hit me that the name was actually a great marketing tool.
OC: Where do you get your inspiration?
KS: I read a lot of news stories and print magazines, and I talk to a lot of cops and agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. They tell me about cases that I should look into or share stories about crimes they’ve worked. The difficult part really isn’t the idea for the story, though—it’s figuring out how the story will be expressed through the characters, and where the twists and turns come in, and how to hide the “bad guy” (or gal) in plain sight so that the reader feels rewarded at the end of the story. I hate when you get to the end of a thriller and suddenly the butler did it. I try to play fair so that at the end you say “of course!” instead of “wtf?”
OC: Your new book, PRETTY GIRLS is set in Atlanta where you have been a longtime resident. Is it easier to write about a town you know so well?
KS: It’s actually harder, because I know that if I mess up on a street name or have someone go to the wrong building or wrong place, folks will write in angry letters about “how can you live in Atlanta and be so stupid!” Which is a valid point. So, anywhere my characters go, I go, and I make sure I notice things along the way like Dairy Queens, which are really important because even if the character doesn’t go inside the store, I need to go inside and make sure the ice cream tastes all right.
OC: What are three spots in Atlanta I don’t know that I need to visit on my next trip?
KS: The absolute best way to see the city is on the Segway tour. The guides take you through downtown, Sweet Auburn, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center, Inman Park and several other residential neighborhoods (so, that’s at least three!). Most tourists use the skybridges downtown because they don’t want to die in the heat, or because they’re sort of herded through them like cattle because the hotels and convention centers don’t want people spending money outside their buildings. Seeing Atlanta from ground level is the best way to do it, and it’s always fun to ride on a Segway!
OC: You’ve traveled all over the world for your book tours, so much so that you are a Million Miler and Diamond Medallion member on Delta Airlines. You must have some good airplane stories. Can you share one?
KS: I was unbelievably giddy when I hit that benchmark. I got on the phone with my travel agent and we were gleeful, like little girls who just got front row tickets to a 1989 Bon Jovi Concert. I think the best thing that can happen on a tour is when it’s all over and I get on the plane (Delta, in my favorite seat 3C) and the flight attendant comes up and talks to me with a sweetly familiar Southern accent. That is always what feels like home to me.
But…if you want dirt, the worst things I see people do is put their bare feet on the bulkhead, or on the tray table, or on the armrest in front of them, or they walk to the bathroom barefooted. People, if you do this, you are basically walking in urine. There’s no way around it. Same if you get on the floor and do your downward facing dog, which is not appropriate in public, let alone an airplane aisle. Or guys hang out in the galley and try to flirt with the flight attendants. Hey, guys, unless you are George Clooney (and I can assure you that you are not) they don’t want you there. That is their office. They are not flirting back with you. They are being polite because they have to be. (Your doctor told you to stand on long flights? Why are you not worried about deep vein thrombosis when the flight attendant is a handsome young man?) Oh! Once, I saw a woman tape a blanket over an airplane window. She brought masking tape seemingly for this purpose. And it was one of those thin, red Delta blankets that filtered the light rather than blocking it, so people were like, “is it for the ambience?” No one asked, but the poor guy next to her was very uncomfortable. One time in Poland, I saw a couple at the gate. She put her head in his lap, he pulled out a pair of tweezers and tweezed her eyebrows. I took a picture. They knew it. They did not seem to care.
OC: Best part about flying?
KS: The knowledge that there is absolutely nothing I can do except read and nap and watch bad movies until the flight lands. Once that forward boarding door closes, it’s me time.
OC: Worst part about flying?
KS: Airports. I mean, there are some nice airports, and I personally think that Atlanta is the best, but the constant waiting, and that boarding period where folks are packed in around the gate and you wait in line behind someone for five minutes until you realize they are boarding with group Z and they’ve just blocked the way because they didn’t listen to the gate agent when she asked eleventy billion times for people who aren’t boarding yet to not block the jetway. I understand you want to get your sixteen personal items crammed into the overhead bin, but let a Diamond through, will ya?
OC: What is your favorite city to visit on Book Tour?
KS: I really love seeing San Francisco because it’s so beautiful and has a great vibe. Also, the Cuyahoga Library System in Ohio is fantastic. Overseas, I love Amsterdam and Copenhagen and London. Oh, and Aukland is fantastic. Such a great town.
OC: If you have down time in that city, what do you do?
KS: I usually go to the gym, or get a massage, or lay around and read. And by all that I mean “nap.” I know I should say that I explore the city and try local delicacies, but when I am working, it’s so much fun to cocoon myself in the hotel room, turn the air conditioner down low, cuddle under a blanket and pretend it’s fake winter. But I have done some cool things—swimming with sharks, taking a sauna and jumping naked into the Baltic, climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge. I’m not completely boring.
OC: Where are you just coming back from?
KS: I just did my US tour, so I was in Des Moines, Raleigh, Chicago, San Francisco, Cupertino (I went to see the iBook folks at Apple!), Sacramento, Scottsdale, Phoenix, San Diego, Wilton, New York…I think that’s it. If I left anyone off, I’m sorry!
OC: First thing you do when arriving at a hotel in your room?
KS: Check for a bottle of water, because it’s hard to stay hydrated when you travel, and also I am allergic to the plant based bottle that Dasani comes in. It gives me hives! (Listen to me, Delta. You need alternatives) So, I make sure there’s some water I can drink. And I use a Clorox wipe to clean the remote and telephone because if people will walk barefoot in urine on an airplane, there’s no telling what they will do to a TV remote in a hotel room.
OC: Biggest pet peeve about hotels?
KS: That they charge for wi-fi. I know it’s not cheap to offer wi-fi, but just pad it into the bill because it annoys the crap out of me that I have to pay $14 for a day of internet, $20-30 for “high speed” and then on top of that, it’s hard to log onto and/or slow, and don’t tell me when I complain that it works best in the bathroom because I am supposed to be treated like a princess when I travel and princesses do not go into the bathroom to check their mail.
OC: Complete the following sentence: I never leave home without:
KS: Something to read.
OC: One thing no one knew about you until now:
KC: Is that I am an accomplished liar. And also that I once wrestled a boa constrictors and then there was the time I tickled someone to death. Literally. You should’ve seen his face.
Karin Slaughter, please use care upon departure as items may have shifted in The Overhead Compartment during our journey. Thanks for choosing us for your travel tips! Have a wonderful day!
Stacy Steponate Greenberg brings over 15 years of travel and marketing experience to Pursuitist. With her column, The Overhead Compartment, Stacy interviews celebrities and athletes bringing an insight into their lives and travel habits. Stacy spent 11 years at Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide in various capacities, serving stints as Director of Marketing for the St. Regis and Sheraton brands, and Senior Director for Starwood Residences. Prior to Starwood, Stacy worked as Manager of Marketing for Hyatt Hotels. A native of Chicago, Stacy resides New York City with her husband and two kids, who like to “rate” the various hotels on their travels with their mom. Reach Stacy via Twitter twitter.com/StacyGSG.