As Criminal appears, we talk to the amazing Ms Slaughter…

Criminal started with one question for me: Why is Amanda Wagner such a ballbreaker. I love her character—I think everyone knows an Amanda Wagner. I wanted to explore how she got to be the way she is, and the best way to do that was to talk about her early career on the Atlanta Police Force. It wasn’t a walk in the park. Coincidentally, she also started around the time Will was born.

I’ve had the fortune to read a lot of wonderful writers who’ve influenced my work—from Margaret Mitchell to Harper Lee to Flannery O’Connor. There are so many great present-day authors, too. When I read Lee Child or Denise Mina or Mo Hayder, I always think, "I want to make readers feel the same rush of excitement about my books that I feel about theirs."

I’m a huge Lee Child fan. He’s a great writer of women. Mark Billingham is the same way. I love what he’s been doing lately with his Thorne series. Also, I’ve always had a soft spot for Stephen King. He’s really a master storyteller, and he crafts characters with breathtaking clarity. I can’t wait to read his new crime novel.

I feel writers should write the story the best way they can. If he or she takes a frank approach to sex or violence, then that’s their choice. In my writing, I have a rule: if it doesn’t move the story forward, if it doesn’t say something about the characters, then the scene doesn’t belong.

My next book is untitled, which has me a bit scared because usually the title comes before the story. It takes place in Macon and brings back Lena Adams from my Grant County series. Will is undercover and Sara doesn’t know about this, which creates a lot of trouble for both of them.

Criminal by Karin Slaughter is published by Century in hardback, £18.99.

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