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'85% of crime readers are women'

13 May 2019

‘I get gendered questions about the violence. I'll give you a case study: a few years back, I got an email from Lee Child - who I love - saying he just read my recent book and he had just finished writing something with a similar theme. When I was doing press for that book, I got a lot of questions about the violence; Lee didn't get any. And there's Jack Reacher, going around killing around 3,000 people and beating everybody up...

With Reacher, you're never really scared he's going to get hurt. My characters are more vulnerable, so if I kill one person in a horrible way, it resonates. Keep in mind that 85% of crime readers are women. It makes sense that women reading about women being murdered is going to resonate more, probably because the real world is a very dangerous place...

I love character-driven books but hate when the crime is almost secondary. But I never want to go the opposite way. I think James Patterson does a really great job at what he does, but you're never going to close a book of his and wonder what's happening with those characters a week later. I want my characters to be strong enough that they live on in readers' heads for a while.'

Karin Slaughter, author of The Last Widow (to be published in June), Fractured, Faithless, Pretty Girls and 15 other novels in the Bookseller.