Karin Slaughter, who recently announced a four-book publishing agreement with HarperCollins, returns to BEA to sign the first in the deal, Pretty Girls (Sept.). Having spent years writing thrillers from the POV of her investigators, in Pretty Girls Slaughter focuses on the other side of a police investigation: how it affects family and friends. "Crime ripples through communities in subtle ways. I wanted to discuss that and explore how people heal themselves—or not."

Heeding the advice she gives new writers, Slaughter followed her passion to create Pretty Girls. "I clearly remember when I came up with the idea. I woke up from a very vivid dream and scribbled the basic plot on some index cards I keep by my bed. I do this a lot, and usually I wake up the next morning and think, no one is going to believe a giant squid stole a baby, but with Pretty Girls, I completely saw how the book would work. I not only knew what these characters were going to do; I knew the how and the why."

When it comes to the what—as in what Slaughter hopes readers feel in reading Pretty Girls—suspense is at the top of her list. "First and foremost, I hope that readers get a roller-coaster ride of a read, because that's what I wanted to do with the story: shake people, scare them, entertain them, and make them think about the story long after it's over." Slaughter is also seeking a deeper connection. "I wanted to write characters people actually like, because I think the antihero trend has crossed over into hateful people it's hard for a reader to be interested in. I wanted readers to think about Claire and Lydia as people they want to spend some time with."

At BEA, the people Slaughter is eager to connect with include old friends and her publisher. One of her favorite BEA memories "is all those librarians carting around 60 pounds of books." Librarians are a huge inspiration to Slaughter; she "put a librarian in Pretty Girls to thank all the librarians who inspired me to be a reader—which is what inspired me to be a writer." She is also grateful for interacting with readers at the show. "I love that it's more open to the public now, because it brings a different energy to the fair. And of course seeing some of my favorite authors is always a treat."

Slaughter autographs ARCs of Pretty Girls today at Table 12, 3–4 p.m. She will also be featured at the AAP Librarian Reads Dinner this evening. 

This article appeared in the May 27, 2015 edition of PW BEA Show Daily.