January 6, 1971 |
|Occupation||Novelist, writer, author|
I taped the autopsy photos from Marilyn Monroe's death to my lunch box in fifth grade, and I would write stories in which someone inevitably died.
When I was little, my grandmother would take me to church with her, and she would introduce me to people.
Flannery O'Connor was a revelation for me. When I read her, I was very young, and I didn't understand what she was doing. I didn't see any of the Catholicism or any of the social stuff.
I know the cadence of the language and the voice of Atlanta because I've lived here for so long.
Books are not like albums, where you can simply download and enjoy your favorite chapter and ignore the rest.
When you read a book, you are letting another person distract your thoughts and work your emotions. If they are adept, there's nothing better than turning off and getting lost.
I am hard-pressed to find a successful writer who doesn't have a similar story to mine – transformation through the public library.
If I wasn't a writer, I would probably be a watchmaker. I like putting puzzles together, and that is what a watch is, figuring out how all the gears and everything else works together. I'm patient and good at focusing on a single task.
Reading develops cognitive skills. It trains our minds to think critically and to question what you are told. This is why dictators censor or ban books. It's why it was illegal to teach slaves to read. It's why girls in developing countries have acid thrown in their faces when they walk to school.
I think that characters who are nice all the time and who you sympathize with can get really boring.
I can clearly trace my passion for reading back to the Jonesboro, Georgia, library, where, for the first time in my life, I had access to what seemed like an unlimited supply of books.
I could type in a closet and be fine. It's just a matter of cocooning myself. Just me and the story.
Prior to the Civil War, most libraries were either privately owned or housed in universities or churches.
My job isn't to preach to people, it's to entertain them. I like letting the characters speak for themselves.
I have a lot of men who will say to me, 'I don't read books by women, but I like you.'
I think crime fiction is a great way to talk about social issues, whether 'To Kill A Mockingbird' or 'The Lovely Bones;' violence is a way to open up that information you want to get out to the reader.
I read extensively about serial killers and all sorts of things people get up to.
I didn't want to spend the next thirty years writing about bad things happening in the same small town – not least of all because people would begin to wonder why anyone still lives there!
It's hard because people often don't recognise shyness; they think it's just someone being rude. I have had to work to overcome that, especially if I'm meeting my readers at author events, because I don't want them to think I'm snooty or rude.
Like every Southern writer, I thought that I needed to write the next 'Gone With the Wind.'
Books give us insight into other people, other cultures. They make us laugh. They make us think. If they are really good, they make us believe that we are better for having read them. You don't read a book – you experience it. Every story opens up a new world.
I paid for my name a lot when I was growing up because other kids teased me.
Good writers know that crime is an entre into telling a greater story about character. Good crime writing holds up a mirror to the readers and reflects in a darker light the world in which they live.
If you wear them outside, they stop being pyjamas. I wear mine to the mail box, which is right in front of my house – that's my limit. Anything else is wrong.
I certainly went to high school with some mean girls, and I would not wish that hell on anybody.
I have a few unusual fans, as you can imagine, so I try to protect the privacy of my home life.
Everybody had something horrible happen to them at one time or another in their life.
My typical morning involves some time on the treadmill, but obviously I skip that a lot. Mostly, I wake up, check my email, then get to work on the various interviews and questions and phone calls that come with being an author.
I'm extremely introverted. I used to think it was shyness, but I got over that, so it must be door No. 2. It's still hard for me to be away from home much, and I have to make sure I get lots of time alone in my room when I'm touring.
Pushing the boundaries of polite society does not just fall under the purview of crime fiction authors.
I always say 'thriller;' if they see you're a woman – and you're a blond woman – people assume you're writing about cats and romances where somebody has died.
Feminism has been so co-opted, but the fact is, feminism benefits men as well.
When I was growing up, my stepmother's sister was the chief detective in one of the adjoining towns, so she piqued my interest in crime.
Being a Southerner, I'm interested in sex, violence, religion and all the things that make life interesting.
I read about violent things. I think what I get out of that is entertainment by learning about different things, and reading the genre and getting an understanding of motivations. But at the end of the day, it's still a book, and I can walk away.
I'm really boring. I get up early. I go to bed early. I don't smoke or drink. I mean, I'll eat a cupcake. I'm just not a crazy, stay-out-all-night sort of person. I love writing.
It sounds pretentious to say I 'divide' my time, but when I am home, that usually means my house in Atlanta or my cabin in the North Georgia Mountains. The latter is where I do the majority of my writing.
My dad believed in scaring us as we were growing up. Scaring the boys who wanted to date us more.
I've always been interested in violence, even as a teenager. I loved 'Helter Skelter' and books like that.
The most enduring stories in literature generally have some kind of crime at their center, whether it's the bloody butchery of 'Hamlet,' the lecherous misanthropes of Dickens or the lone gunman from 'The Great Gatsby.'
I think being a woman and writing frankly about violence has gotten me some attention, and as someone who wants people to read my books, I can't complain about that attention, but it does puzzle me that this is something reviewers focus on.
As voters and taxpayers, we must demand that our local governments properly prioritize libraries. As citizens, we must invest in our library down the street so that the generations served by that library grow up to be adults who contribute not just to their local communities but to the world.
My books are never about the crimes. They are about how the characters react to the crimes.
I never felt isolated; I just liked being alone. I think that some people are good at being alone, and some people aren't, and as a child, I really liked it.
People forget that writers start off being readers. We all love it when we find a terrific read, and we want to let people know about it.
I busted my chin open trying to be Evel Knievel on my bike. When it happened, you could see straight through to the bone, I thought my dad was going to pass out. It left a scar that I still have now.
I love puns. I've been known to turn the car around just to take advantage of a good pun situation. It really is the highest form of humor.
I think a lot of people are curious about what makes people do what they do, and I guess my curiosity isn't hidden in any way.