The Five Spot: Karin Slaughter, Author and Executive Producer, ‘Will Trent’

Author Karin Slaughter, EP of ABC's 'Will Trent'
Karin Slaughter (Image credit: Alison Rosa)

Will Trent, about a special agent with a troublesome background, including being abandoned at birth and enduring a rough childhood in foster care, debuts on ABC January 3. Ramón Rodríguez portrays Trent, who works for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. 

Ramon Rodriguez in ABC’s 'Will Trent'

Ramón Rodríguez in ABC’s Will Trent (Image credit: ABC/Art Streiber)

Of her 23 novels, Karin Slaughter has written 10 with Trent as her main character. Her novel Pieces of Her was adapted into a series on Netflix last year. 

Slaughter is an executive producer on Will Trent, and spoke with B+C about the challenge of adapting a book to television, what makes the show timely and what Rodríguez brings to the title role. An edited transcript follows. 

Where did the idea for Will Trent initially come from? I was looking to write about a detective who was more like the guys I grew up with. A lot of them were raised by single moms. Will was raised in a children's home by a woman, and he’s been guided through his life by many strong women. He listens to women, which is a very sexy thing for guys to do. And he’s very tuned into reading the room. Because he has a reading disability, he has to pick up on cues. He has to look for changes in tone. He's much more tuned into that, which is what makes him a great detective. 

Bonus Five

The X-Files

(Image credit: Fox)

All-time top TV show? The X-Files (pictured)
Favorite app? New York Times crossword (Wordle)
Destinations on your vacation bucket list? Space and Antarctica
Favorite podcast? My Favorite Murder
Books on your nightstand? Anywhere You Run by Wanda Morris, Find Me by Alafair Burke, Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six by Lisa Unger

What’s the biggest challenge in adapting a novel to television? They’ve taken the first two Will Trent books, Triptych and Fractured, and melded them together in a way that I had never anticipated would work so well.

Did you work on the screenplays? I didn’t. I gave my notes and the little thoughts that I had. But the book is the book and the show is the show. 

What makes the show relevant in 2023? [The producers] really picked up what was important to me in the books, which is, the plot has to be as interesting as the characters, and the characters have to be as interesting as the plot. So you’ve got Will, who has a lot of baggage from his childhood. You’ve got his situation with Angie. You’ve got Faith, who has this underlying hatred for him because he investigated her mother in the Atlanta Police Department. And then you’ve got a very mysterious relationship that Amanda has with Will that we don’t know quite that much about yet. So there’s a lot of emotional stuff that resonates in addition to a really cracking seat-of-your-pants kind of thriller.

What does Ramón bring to the title role? First, he’s very sexy. That has to be said. 

When he plays Will, you get the sense that this is a really smart guy. He understands what he’s doing. He’s aware that sometimes his personality can be a little off-putting. But he’s made a choice as an adult to do the right thing. 

A lot of kids who grow up in foster care get caught up in the system, and that horrible trap of not having any support. Will has been able to right himself and make a choice that he's going to do the right thing and try to help other people. I think Ramón is amazing at conveying that. ▪️

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.