Oline Cogdill

altKarin Slaughter's dark vision has made her an international bestselling author.

A long-time resident of Atlanta, Karin writes about the emotional consequences of violence as well as social issues such as racism, classism, corruption and greed. Her novels are decidedly hard-boiled with undertones of the Southern gothic.

Though her novels often reveal secrets about the most important relationships in our lives—our families—her latest novel, Fallen, is perhaps her most family-centric novel to date.

Along with Mary Kay Andrews and Kathryn Stockett, Karin also has spearheaded the Save the Libraries program. Her pilot program has helped raise more than $50,000 for the 25 libraries in the the Dekalb County Public Library System in Georgia.

altKarin begins her tour this week for her latest novel, Fallen, in which Faith Mitchell, an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, deals with a very personal hostage situation.

Before she hit the road, Karin wrote this guest blog for Mystery Scene. Karin also will be the cover profile of Mystery Scene's summer issue.

Here are Karin's thoughts on why families influence her writing, and a Christmas gift that backfired:

"My grandmother got me hooked on crime fiction. She passed away before I became a published author, but I think she would’ve been startled—and slightly embarrassed—to know she was the one who gave me my vocation.

"When I was a kid, she used to get this magazine called True Crime. She hid it under her bed, but my sister and I rooted it out every Sunday we went to visit. The magazine was awful—containing the sort of stories that might be just shy of snuff porn today. The front cover always had a woman looking over her shoulder, panic in her eyes, as a dark shadow descended. The shoutlines said things like, “She should’ve listened to her husband!” or “Why was she out after dark?”

"This was not the sort of magazine you found at our local Piggly Wiggly.

"My grandmother used to get in her car and drive to the grocery store on the other side of town to get her weekly copy. One Christmas, when we were trying to think of what to get her, I suggested we get her a subscription to True Crime.

"I can still remember the tears in her eyes when we told her that Christmas morning. Not tears of pleasure, or tears of thoughtfulness, but tears of outrage and shame. “I don’t want my mailman to know I read THAT,” she told us.

"And suddenly, it made sense why she kept True Crime hidden under her bed. She wasn’t hiding it from her nosey, impressionable grandkids. She was hiding it from herself. She didn’t want anyone to know that she read those kinds of stories. It made her feel common and unladylike.

"Fallen, my new book, talks about the relationship between parent and child, mother and daughter, mother and grandson.

"As a Southerner, I am keenly aware of the influence of family in my work, but this is the first full-fledged family story I have ever written. It opens with Faith Mitchell pulling into her mother’s driveway and finding out something very bad has happened.

"The story brings Faith into conflict with her partner, Will Trent, and makes her turn against the people she should be trusting. While the plot has a woman who is in jeopardy, it also has several strong women who pull together to do what’s right.

"I think it’s the kind of read my grandmother would’ve loved. She might’ve even kept it on her bookshelf instead of hidden under her bed.