What drew you to writing?

Abbott was always drawn to people's darker impulses.
  • Transcript


Karen Abbott: Well I always liked to write. When I was a kid in grade school I would write really bizarre . . . I was always interested in murder mysteries, and murder, and law, and sort of the darker impulses of people. So I would write stories about murderous matrons and, you know, serial killers who, you know, were grandmothers. And I would send these stories off to Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock and, you know, kept getting rejections. Of course I was like 15 and 14 so I really didn’t expect anything, but I kept doing it just for fun. Then I sort of gave it up and I figured, you know, nobody can really grow up and become a writer. I didn’t think it was something people did for a living. It was sort of a fanciful thing. And I had planned to go to law school. That’s what . . . mostly because I thought that would be the easiest thing to do, and I liked to argue with people, and I like politics. But while I was in college I got an internship at Philadelphia magazine. And one of the things I had to do besides picking up people’s laundry and opera tickets was transcribing their interviews. It was way before, you know, anybody had machines that did that for you. So there were a couple of journalists who would make me transcribe their interviews, and they would say things like, you know, “Note how I ask this question. Note the way I sort of use inflection on this word. And the way they answer this, mark that down.” And it was a very calculated system of questioning that intrigued me, and that’s when I started wanting to be a journalist, so . . .

Recorded On: 1/22/08