By Dawn Ius
If you’re an avid thriller reader, you’ve probably checked out one or more of Danielle Girard’s bestselling books, her most recent being last year’s Far Gone, the second book in her Badlands series. But if that’s not why her name sounds familiar, it could be that you’ve stumbled across her latest endeavor, a podcast dedicated to women who write thrillers.
Since last February, Girard has taken listeners on a deep dive into the lives of some of the genre’s rising and established superstars as they discuss balancing work with real life—their ability to balance the pressures and expectations of being a woman while simultaneously crafting some of crime fiction’s darkest villains.
New York Times bestselling author Karin Slaughter—who was one of the podcast’s earliest guests— says KILLER WOMEN is “A must listen! One of my favorite ways to discover new authors!” That’s not an endorsement one takes lightly.
In this exclusive interview with The Big Thrill, Girard shares more about why she added a podcast to her already busy schedule, what guests she has lined up for next season, and how thriller readers and writers can help support her efforts.
I’m always astonished by the number of great podcasts available now, and KILLER WOMEN is certainly among them. It’s fabulous! What prompted you to start this podcast? Was there a gap in the marketplace that you’d hoped to fill?
Thank you so much. I wish I could say that there was a strategy to KILLER WOMEN, but to be honest, it started entirely selfishly. I wanted to talk to other women writers—mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts—and hear how they saw the world of crime fiction, how they form characters and invent plots, how and when they write with all the other demands on their lives. It was 100 percent a passion project from the get go. I should say—if I don’t, I’m sure I’ll hear about it later—that the idea came from a good writer friend, Matt Coyle. Last December or January, Matt asked me to interview him for his latest Rick Cahill novel and afterward, he said I had a knack and that I ought to do a show of my own. Pam Stack, head of Authors on the Air, chimed in, too. And of course, I’m a sucker for praise. (Aren’t all authors suckers for praise?) So, there you have it. KILLER WOMEN was born.
The concept behind this is really fun, but also important—the idea that these women who write dark novels suspense are also mothers, wives, etc.—in roles that are not typically associated with murder. (One hopes!) As an author of suspense yourself, what did you hope to glean from these female novelists, beyond, perhaps, a sense of camaraderie?
It’s exactly that—how do women see the world differently from men. And I love so many books by men, too, so it’s not an either/or thing. But there are so many wonderful female authors with so many perspectives, I just thought, let’s hear what they think. As far as what I gain from it personally, I’m a writer, of course, but I’m also a reader and a very avid one. Having the chance to read a book and talk about it with the creator, to poke that brain for the bits of inspiration and insight, for the ways the story surprised the author, which happens quite a lot as well, was too tempting to pass up. And, of course, with spending so much time alone, it’s also lovely to have a chat with women doing the same thing I am. No one understands the moments of elation, frustration, and pure insanity like another writer.
Of the things you talk about is how women are balancing a lot in addition to writing these books—but putting together this podcast (the interviews, the production, the editing, etc.) can’t be easy either. I’m impressed by your consistency, as well. What are some tips you’d suggest—or you’ve learned through talking to others—about balancing that workload?
Well, I have to be honest here. I have an incredible producer who handles editing and production. I would be absolutely lost without her. The thing that takes the most time, of course, is reading the books, but it’s also an absolute joy to read them. I haven’t come upon one yet that I didn’t love in parts, if not in full. As far as balance, that’s a lot easier when kids are out of the house and mine are both in college, so it’s like gaining a whole extra day in every week. Of course, I miss them terribly. (In case they’re reading here.) I tend to block my days for writing, with the exception of recording the interviews. The reading I do after my writing day is done. I have a notebook where, each morning, I write a tentative list of what I hope to get done in a day. Like all things, some days are better than others.
I have enjoyed many of the episodes, and of course gravitate to both the Karin Slaughter and Jennifer Hillier episodes—two of my favorite authors. Asking who your favorite interview has been would be unfair, of course, but what episodes would you point new listeners to as ones that stand out for you for whatever reason?
Oh, goodness. I loved my talks with Karin and Jennifer, but to be honest, I have really loved them all. Sandra Brown is one of the most accomplished people I’ve ever spoken to and our conversation was wonderful. Also, I’ve discovered some new-to-me authors this year and that’s been incredibly fun. The episode with Gillian McAllister—whose book, Wrong Place Wrong Time, was a Reese pick—was great. Also, Elly Griffiths (Bleeding Heart Yard) whose episode is coming in December and Jillian Medoff and her book When We Were Bright and Beautiful. Jillian’s book wasn’t on my radar, but I chose it for my Book of the Month read and loved it so much that I reached out to her to see if she’d join me. Hers will be the final episode of this season.
You’re coming up on a year of doing the podcasts—I believe it started in Feb 2022? What can you share about the path forward for KILLER WOMEN? Any hints about who you have lined up for forthcoming episodes? Anyone on your list you’re “dying” to entice, but have not yet been able to?
People have been unbelievably receptive. I think having authors like Sandra Brown and Karin Slaughter was immensely helpful to convincing other authors to join in, but overall, both authors and the PR folks at the various publishers have been incredibly gracious and generous. I have already lined up more than 30 episodes for 2023, all authors I haven’t yet interviewed. It’s incredible how many fabulous women authors there are. Episodes will include Mary Kubica, Stacy Willingham, CJ Tudor, Katrine Enberg, and Sally Hepworth, to name a few. I have to admit, I’m really looking forward to talking to Katrine Enberg. She’s not someone I’ve ever had the chance to meet (she’s Danish) and I’m a huge fan of her Korner and Werner series. But truly, I’m super excited to by every single author on the list.
As a podcaster, I’m sure you’ve heard or subscribed to more than a few. Can you share your Top 5 podcasts, aside from yours, of course, that listeners can check out once they’ve powered through KILLER WOMEN?
Okay, this is kind of embarrassing because I should be a podcast junkie. Or at least dabble in them, but I really don’t aside from This American Life, which I’ve been listening to for ages. Most often, when I have time to listen, I choose a full-length book.
How can thriller readers and writers help support KILLER WOMEN?
Thank you so much! KILLER WOMEN is a labor of love, so the support of others is what keeps it going and spreads the word. To help, folks can: listen (of course), leave a good review on their favorite podcast app, and follow us on Facebook (and join the Facebook group). Also, we are putting together a massive giveaway to end season 1. Authors and publishers are donating a copy of every book from 2022! The giveaway ends December 31 and eight winners will each take home six to seven books. To enter, folks just need to join the Facebook group. Many of the authors who participated this year will also be coming by to say hello during December. It should be a lot of fun and a great kick-off to season 2.
As noted, you’re also a bestselling author. What can you share about any of your personal projects—any new books coming out?
Thank you. Yes. Up Close, the 3rd book in the Badlands thriller series will be out May 23, 2023 and I’m working on a standalone now.