Between the lines with Karin Salvalaggio (Q&A)

Today, I’m doing a cyber swoon over Karin Salvalaggio.

Karin is the author of the recently released novel, Silent Rain (Minotaur Books)—the fourth book in her critically acclaimed mystery series featuring Det. Macy Greeley. Previous titles include Bone Dust White, Burnt River, and Walleye Junction. Karin received an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck at the University of London. She was born in West Virginia and raised in an Air Force family, growing up on a number of military bases around the United States. Karin now makes her home in London with her two children.

Karin Salvalaggio
Karin Salvalaggio

Praise for Silent Rain:

“Nail-biting … Part of the fun of Salvaggio’s [sic] mysteries lies in the unexpected complexity of small-town relationships. She shatters every illusion of simplicity as Macy lays bare each person’s secrets in a series of interviews that artfully draws out the tension of an already powerful story. The severe weather on the Montana plains—from swirling snow to drenching rain—sets the somber mood.”—Publishers Weekly

“Salvalaggio’s fourth installment (Walleye Junction, 2016, etc.) lives up to her talent for dropping unhappy souls into grim circumstances and handing them over to her flawed but capable protagonist to save or arrest.”—Kirkus Reviews

From the publisher:

Grace Adams has spent three years trying to move on―mentally, physically, emotionally―from the traumatizing events of her past. But it’s not easy when the world is morbidly curious about the crimes that shaped her childhood, when despite her changed name, people still track her down for the sensational details. Now in college in Bolton, Montana, the one person Grace has trusted with the truth about her past has betrayed her. The bestselling novelist Peter Granger wants to use Grace’s story in his next book, regardless of how desperate Grace is to keep the details to herself. And then, on Halloween night, Peter Granger’s house burns to the ground and his and his wife’s bodies are found inside.

Montana state detective Macy Greeley is sent to Bolton to handle the investigation into the fire and deaths…which soon appear to be arson and murder. It doesn’t take Macy long to realize that Grace isn’t the only one whom Peter Granger has betrayed, and there are no shortage of others in town who took issue with him and his wife. What at first looked like a straightforward investigation is poised to expose some of Bolton’s darkest secrets, and the fallout may put more than one life in danger.

 

Silent Rain

Now, Karin reveals a few pages from the book of her life …

John Valeri: As a child did you wear your literary lust loud and proud or were you a closet bibliophile?

Karin Salvalaggio: As a child I was a loud and proud library groupie who checked out multiple books at a time. Libraries provided a uniquely democratic access to literature and learning. My father was career Air Force so we moved around a bit, but I could always count on there being a public library waiting for me at each new destination. I think my all-time favorite was the library at Holland Elementary School in Satellite Beach, Florida. I spent a lot of time there. Forty-five years later and I can still remember the layout. I don’t think I realized people bought books in stores until I was a teenager.

JV: What books were you likely to be caught keeping company with under the covers?

KS: So pleased you’re asking about what I was reading in my childhood. The books I keep under my covers as an adult aren’t always fit to talk about in print. Cue the blushes. When I was very young my favorite book was Jellybeans for Breakfast by Miriam Young. It has become a bit of a cult classic so hard covers go for upwards of $200 online. I wish I’d kept mine. When I was a little older I devoured the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries one after another. I also remember Anne of Green Gables being a particular favorite. Innocence was lost soon enough. In no time at all I was reading the so-called forbidden books. The Exorcist was a bit of an eye-opener and, of course, head-turner …

JV: What are you currently reading and what is your initial impression?

KS: I’m in between books at the moment. I just finished Mark Hill’s cracking debut Two O’Clock Boy. The writing is more than sound and he certainly knows how to keep a reader on the page. There’s a great twist and a whole host of flawed characters. What more can a fan of crime fiction ask for? Another book that very much impressed me was Rattle by Fiona Cummins, a truly remarkable debut, which I highly recommend. I don’t know what I’ll pick up next. I’m going to Bristol Crimefest so I’m sure there will be plenty on offer to inspire me.

JV: What one book do you always recommend when asked?

KS: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson is the novel I always recommend. It’s packed with hauntingly lush prose and a highly inventive storyline. It also introduces the world to Merricat Blackwood, one of the most unreliable narrators of all time. Might as well mention that it is a master class in craft that every writer should read. A piece I wrote on it can be found on the Bookanista website. Link: http://bookanista.com/finding-magic-boneyard/

JV: Which of your books would you suggest to readers and why?

KS: I was actually hoping you’d tell the readers which book to read first. My novels are part of a series, but I have been careful to write each one as a standalone. It is my hope that people who read the fourth book Silent Rain will be just as engrossed as those who have read all the books. They’ll miss out on Macy’s character arc, but there’s no reason they can’t go back and catch up if they like what they see. There’s been a lot of drama in Macy’s life so well worth further investigation.

JV: Is there a book and author that readers would be surprised to know you’ve read?

KS: I’m not sure how to answer this. The people most likely to read this Q&A are crime fiction writers and fans. Nothing surprises them! The only thing that comes to mind is that I preferred Donna Tartt’s less popular second novel A Little Friend to her third novel Goldfinch by a wide margin. It is interesting that a crime is central to all of her novels, yet she’s never referred to as a crime fiction writer. Anyway, A Little Friend was set in a rural community in the south. If I remember correctly a young girl gets caught up investigating the murder of her brother. There are meth addicts, dysfunctional families and a bit of southern gothic thrown into the mix. It was quite a departure from the ivory towers depicted in her debut A Secret History.

JV: Who is the one of author who did, or would, make you weak at the knees upon meeting?

KS: Joyce Carol Oates wouldn’t just make me weak at the knees. I think she’d make me feel like I’d just been ‘knee-capped’. She’s incredibly prolific, well read, wise beyond words and still finds time to hang on Twitter. I’ve admired her for years but the closest I’ve come to meeting her is when she ‘liked’ a reply I’d made to one her tweets. I know this makes me sound pathetic but that was a big moment for me.

JV: Has there been an “I’ve made it” moment in your career?

KS: No.

JV: What is your greatest literary ambition?

KS: An “I’ve made it” moment would be a nice start. As far a literary ambition I suppose I’m looking for longevity and diversity. Though I enjoy the genre, I don’t want to only write crime novels. I’d love to do some poetry collections and have a go at writing literary fiction––something lacking plot and oozing with pretention would do nicely. I’d also like to write more critical essays.

JV: Fill in the blank: John B. Valeri / Hartford Books Examiner is _____.

KS: … fishing for compliments. (Editor’s Note: Totally! Can you think of a better way?) Seriously though, thank you for posting such a thoughtful review of Silent Rain. Making a strong connection with readers is really what writing is all about. Not everyone gets it. There is more than one way to read a book. You can skim along the surface flipping pages or you can dig deep. John B. Valeri is someone who digs deep.

***

Check out my review of Silent Rain for Criminal Element here.

With thanks to Karin Salvalaggio for her generosity of time and thought – and for providing that rare reading experience that gave me “all the feels” …

2 comments

  1. Will read Silent Rain this summer for sure! That cover is so tantalizing. Favorite line from this interview: “The Exorcist was a bit of an eye-opener and, of course, head-turner …” Ha! Thanks for another great interview, John.

    Liked by 1 person

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