The Washington Post has called her “one of the best crime novelists in America.” But for Atlanta native, Karin Slaughter, author of such bestselling novels as Undone, Broken, Fractured, Beyond Reach, Triptych, Faithless and - her latest release - Fallen, the real crime is the underfunding and outright closing of libraries.
“Libraries are the last place any community should cut money,” Slaughter says. “I mean, I understand some things have to be cut, but a lot of these municipalities are gutting the libraries and it’s so short sighted.”
A staunch supporter of libraries, Slaughter sites statistics that show a tremendous increase in library usage across the country - up more than 23 percent between 2006 and 2009 – as well as data that indicates how much better kids do in school and in life when exposed to reading from an early age.
“The ones who read develop stronger critical pathways for cognition for higher levels of thinking,” says Slaughter. “To cut off reading for kids – it’s just awful what we’re doing to future writers and doctors and lawyers and mechanics and all of those who have to have certain skill sets to do the jobs we need people to do.”
Slaughter points out that funding libraries is actually an investment.
“Every dollar spent at a library returns five dollars to the community,” she says. “Kids who read do better in school; they don’t get in trouble or have to go to juvenile court. They go to college, they do well in college and then they get great jobs - and if they have good jobs then they pay higher taxes.”
To help meet the needs of libraries across the country, Slaughter is spearheading SaveTheLibraries.com. On Friday evening she will be teaming up with the Gwinnett County Public Library System for a book signing at Barnes & Noble at The Forum at Peachtree Parkway, located at 5141 Peachtree Parkway in Peachtree Corners. The event starts at 7pm.
It’s a natural fit for Slaughter. Growing up in Atlanta, she says she always enjoyed going to the library as a kid. She grew to love the art of storytelling and knew she wanted to be a writer. But, once she grew up, reality set in and working as a sign maker is what paid the bills.
However, by her mid-twenties Slaughter decided to get serious about her passion.
“I didn’t want to be a sign company owner, I wanted to be a writer,” she recalls.
But serious writing is much more than merely putting a story on paper and handing it over to the world to share.
“It’s an incredibly difficult process and to publish successfully is sort of like winning the lottery,” according to Slaughter. “So, I’m very conscious that I’m lucky and there’s not much I can complain about, except the travel - and even that isn’t bad compared to going out in the 3,000 degree heat, digging a hole and putting a sign in it.”
Inevitably, being a bestselling female author from Atlanta, Slaughter is often compared to Margaret Mitchell.
“I’m always quick to say she was a phenomenal writer,” says Slaughter when talking about Mitchell, whose epic novel celebrates its 75th anniversay this week.
“I love Gone With the Wind," she says reverently. "(Mitchell) is one of the few writers in American history that wrote a book and said, ‘Hey, that’s the best book I can write’ – Harper Lee being another one. (Mitchell) did so much and touched so many people that it’s a flattering comparison, but I’m not there, yet.”
It shouldn’t be long, now.