Meet Charlaine Harris

July 20, 2013 - 1:57 pm 2 Comments

Meet Charlaine Harris

On Thursday 18th July 13 at 7.30pm I joined an crowded audience of around hundred fans for an evening with Sookie Stackhouse author Charlaine Harris. Yes, Charlaine Harris, with her wonderful Southern charm and bags of personality that simply dances through her writing. After my initial OMG moment I dediced, as any good blogger should, to capture the moment. The first thing I spotted was the queue! Yes, we had to wait in that queue. There I met uber-fan Charlotte Searson replete in her Merlotte’s bar t-shirt.

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After the good staff at Waterstone’s New Street Birmingham started to let us in, we were given a chance to pick up more Charlaine Harris goodness including the final Sookie novel Dead Ever After. Then came the evening itself. As you know, or can imagine, Ms Harris is a busy bee, so she spent ten minutes talking about her worlds, and what was coming next, then about fifteen minutes answering questions, before we all got to queue up again to get our books signed and to actually say hi to Charlaine.

Me & Charlaine

Being the intrepid reporter I am (ahem) I took some notes, so here is news from the world of Charlaine Harris . . .
Following Dead Ever After, Charlaine will be releasing a small book, After Dead, a small encyclopedia companion book which will literally list/detail what happens to everything and every character at the end of the novels. Perfect if the final novel, which could not possibly end everything, does not offer you enough closure. Next year she’ll be releasing/working on a number of projects including a brand new series Midnight Crossroads which will be a three part series at the least, more work with Chris Golden, and for fans of her ongoing editorial work with writer Toni L P Kelner (Many Bloody Returns etc) she’ll be editing a Sports/Supernatural themed anthology, which we were told contains a very new exciting story by Seanan McGuire involving the can-be-vicious Roller Derby. Amongst her new work she’ll be writing the Midnight series in 3rd person multiple POVs, quite a change for fans of the Sookie books.
Here are some of the questions the fans asked:
Did you know how it would end when you started the Sookie series?
No spoilers here – Yes, she knew from the second book where the series was going to finish. Initially she thought it would be standalone novel, until Ace came back and asked for more. This series sold better than anything she’d ever written.

Why do you think it has taken off so much more?

Maybe it’s because I’m a better writer now, and have improved over the years. I picked the right character at the right moment. There was no real Urban Fantasy/Dark Fantasy then, just me and Laurell K Hamilton. The Sookie books have been real good to me.

TD: However, conversation soon led to the fact that Charaine actually received some not-so positive reactions to the last book, including death threats. She believes that it could be because readers have invested so much in the character and the books didn’t end exactly the way they’d envisioned. It was very disconcerting for her.

Was the show what she expected and did she approve of it?

CH: I have a very cordial relationship with Alan (Ball) and the show but things are changing. Brian Buckner is the new showrunner. In Ep8 S6 my daughter has a guest part. My kids have all been in the show. S7 will happen.

Vampires: Do you think your books have been a launch pad for other writers and who is your favourite literary vampire?

CH: We look at vampires in a different light now. I’ve never met a genuine vampire – yet – they are a powerful symbol. In Sookie they are a message for tolerance. I’ll be glad to never hear another vampire joke again. My favourite vampire (by another writer) is Don Simon Ysidro from Travelling with the Dead by Barbara Hambly.

Do you intentionally create strong female characters?

CH: Yes. I write strong women as a feminist approach. I like to depict women who don’t wait around for someone to solve all of their problems. Sometimes they need help though. We can’t solve all our problems on our own. We all need a support network. Sookie is a thoughtful person who looks into her own spiritual beliefs. But she makes mistakes too and gets into trouble.

Of the anthologies you have edited with Toni, what is your favourite?

CH: Wolfsbane and Mistletoe. (NB: My favourite too) We started a series of books where we offered the writers two ideas and asked them to write something. With this one it was Werewolves and Christmas. The UK cover is nice but the American cover is amazing. It is great for readers to discover new writers.

What is the most challenging part between writing for books and writing for graphic formats?

CH: The artist does all the description. Chris Golden advised me ‘You can’t write what he can’t draw.’ It may be a double negative but after that everything fell into place.

Do you get writer’s block and how do you deal with it?

CH: I have days when it’s hard to write something, but you know what, I have a contract and I have deadlines. I will always write something, such as a blog entry then go back to the original piece and find out where it went wrong.
Charlaine blogs about herself and books she has read at http://www.charlaineharris.com/index.html

Asked about her favourite books, Charlaine cited Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, ‘a template for any romance novel to come after.’

Are any of the characters based on someone you know?

CH: None of my characters are based on people I know (NB: This was answered with a wicked twinkle in her eye) I use bits of each person, but not a whole person. A whole person or a real person probably wouldn’t work.

Following these questions we got to meet Charlaine. Being clever as always, when asked if I wanted my name or just a signature, I insisted on just the signature, my reason being one book was a gift and because the queue was long I didn’t want to hold up the queue. So what did I say? Oh yes, “It’s not one of those get the signature only cause it’s worth more when you drop dead things. It’s cause one is for my best mate.”

Foot in mouth disease anyone? Yes. Way to impress! Never mind. I got to meet her and she was lovely. What an experience!

2 Responses to “Meet Charlaine Harris”

  1. Toni L.P. Kelner Says:

    Just FYI, the new anthology will be called GAMES CREATURES PLAY, and yes, Seanan’s story is kick-ass. Charlaine’s story features Manfred from the Harper Connolly series, who’s now in the MIdnight series–he goes to a small town called Bon Temps and meets a telepathic bar maid.

    The other contributors are Jan Burke, Dana Cameron, Adam-Troy Castro, Brendan DuBois, Caitlin Kittredge, William Kent Krueger, Ellen Kushner, Mercedes Lackey, Joe R. Lansdale, Laura Lippman, Brandon Sanderson,and me.

    We’re very excited to have this team.

  2. Theresa Derwin Says:

    Thanks Toni. I look forward to it!

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