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Author Slaughter draws crowd to library fundraiser

Staff Photo: John Bohn Novelist Karin Slaughter talked about her newest book titled "Criminal" and signed books for her readers at the Barnes & Noble store at The Forum in Norcross Saturday.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Novelist Karin Slaughter talked about her newest book titled "Criminal" and signed books for her readers at the Barnes & Noble store at The Forum in Norcross Saturday.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Novelist Karin Slaughter, left, signs a copy of her newest book titled "Criminal" for Jonetta Goggins of Snellville, at the Barnes & Noble store at The Forum in Norcross Saturday.

PEACHTREE CORNERS -- For Joan Milford, there is nothing like getting lost in a good book.

Struggling with the death of her husband, Milford turned to reading, when a friend gave her a copy of his niece's book. She quickly became hooked on Karin Slaughter's mysteries, and jumped at the chance to drive 60 miles from her home in Newborn to meet the New York Times best-selling author at a Peachtree Corners book signing Saturday.

"It helped me through the year," Milford said, explaining her love for the books. "You just can't wait to see what happens. It's got your interest from the word 'go.' That's what I need right now."

The event, which drew more than 100 people from around the state -- and even one reader from Pennsylvania -- was a part of the Gwinnett County Public Library's "Meet the Author" series, and it served as a fundraiser for the system, which has faced budget cuts in recent years. The fundraiser continues today with a portion of all sales at the Barnes and Noble at the Forum going toward the system.

Slaughter, a Georgia native, described her 13th book, the newly released "Criminal," to the crowd, explaining the background of 1975 Atlanta, a year after Maynard Jackson became the first black mayor elected in a major Southern city. While the story continues the present-day dealings of Slaughter's beloved characters, it delves into the issues of minorities and women joining the Atlanta police force in an era of change.

"Every story starts with a question for me," Slaughter said, "How did Amanda Wagner get to be such a nasty person?" she added, referring to a character in many of her books.

The crowd was enthusiastic, questioning Slaughter about her writing style and character development, joining in with chagrin at Slaughter's mention of an "unpopular choice" she made for one popular character, and laughing at some of her tales.

"I think that writing chooses you," she said. "I always felt the need to tell stories; of course, I got spanked for that."

Jonetta Goggins of Snellville said she never had an opportunity to meet an author up close before Saturday's event. She showed up two hours early for the chance to meet Slaughter and ended up first in line.

"I love mysteries, any type of suspense," she said with excitement. "I like solving it before I get to the end."