Posts Tagged ‘Charlaine Harris’

GAMES CREATURES PLAY edited by Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner

October 12, 2016 - 7:07 pm No Comments

51jpgbnjiyl-_sx329_bo1204203200_ GAMES CREATURES PLAY edited by Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner. Jo Fletcher Books, London, UK. £14.99 trade paperback. 356 pages. ISBN: 978-1-78087-260-5
Reviewed by Pauline Morgan

Themed anthologies continue to challenge authors into tailoring a story to fit the criteria imposed by the editor or publisher, and it can be a challenge. In an anthology with an open submissions policy this can provide a wide variety of stories to choose from and often the results are stunning. Sometimes, the editors will offer specific invitations to authors to contribute. In the case of Games Creatures Play, I suspect the latter. Whichever, isn’t important – the quality of the contents is and here the standard is high, many of the contributors having won or been nominated for various awards. An added criterion for all these stories is that they must not only involve a game but also have supernatural beings playing them. This doesn’t mean that the stories are horror, although there are frequently horrific events portrayed. The vogue for urban fantasy has created many novels and stories that involve vampire, werewolves, fairies, zombies and similar, not all of which want to devour humans.
Here, may be found stories which link into other works by the same authors. This is certainly true with the opening story, ‘In The Blue Hereafter’ by Charlaine Harris. Two characters, from separate series – Sookie Stackhouse and Manfred Bernardi – meet at a softball game. Though not a fan, Manfred has gone because his late grandmother has sent him. He doesn’t know why but suspects it’s a test and he has to somehow work it out. Sookie is a spectator that he gets chatting to. Readers may find other characters they are familiar with in some other the other pieces but not all.
Of all the games possible, only a few can be featured in a book containing fifteen stories and only one occurs twice. ‘Hide And Seek’ by William Kent Krueger involves a cruel game by the owners of a foster home. The children having to hide in the grounds and if caught meet a horrific end. This is part nightmarish horror and partly a ghost story. ‘Hide And Shriek’ by Adam-Troy Castro goes in a totally different direction and has a Lovecraftian theme with Cthulhu like beings playing the game, with mortals having to solve the riddles and find them.
In the stories that work best, the game is very central to the plot. ‘Dead on The Bones’ by Joe R. Lansdale is one of these. The narrator’s Uncle Johnny considers himself the best prize fighter in the country. One a year, the Conjure Man comes and reanimates a corpse with the spirit of one of the great boxers of the past for Uncle Johnny to fight. On this occasion he doesn’t expect the narrator to intervene and call back the spirit of his father, a man Johnny murdered. In contrast, ‘Stepping Into The Dead Zone’ by Jan Burke has dodgeball as the game but though it is a strong feature of the story, it could have easily been substituted by any other popular team sport.
Games are not always played fairly. The Devil is likely to cheat, so the only way to beat him is to do the same. In Caitlin Kittredge’s ‘The Devil Went Down To Boston’ Ellie challenges the Devil to games of skill. Other games featured in the stories include ice skating, road racing, baseball and lacrosse.
One story I do have an issue with. ‘The God’s Games’ by Dana Cameron is set in an ancient Greece where there are werewolves. It is a well told story set against the background of the Olympic Games. All women were not banned from watching events, only married women, Unmarried girls were encouraged to watch the naked wrestling so that they had an idea of what they were getting once they did marry.
There will be stories in this volume that will appeal to any reader of the supernatural. It is a shame that all the authors included only those from North America. There are also talented supernatural writers in Britain, Europe and Australia.

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.

DSC_0151

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!

Review – Season’s Readings Wolfsbane & Mistletoe

December 20, 2011 - 11:40 pm No Comments

Wolfsbane & Mistletoe
Author: (Ed) Charlaine Harris & Toni L P Kelner
Publisher: Gollancz
Page count: 416pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Following on from the success of Many Bloody Returns, (a birthday and vampire anthology), Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse series, returns to Editor duties with this cool collection of stories featuring werewolves and Christmas. Oh yea!

Joining forces with Toni L P Kelner, Harris delivers an anthology of fun, energetic stories, which runs wild with the themes (pardon the pun).

Whilst some of the stories are unlinked to the authors’ previous works, and remain fresh, some of the works are richer if the reader is familiar with the universe. For instance, the story ‘Gift Wrap’ by Harris features Sookie Stackhouse and adds to the True Blood mythology. This story finds Sookie alone and lonely on Christmas Eve wallowing in her loneliness until a surprise present arrives courtesy of a distant relative. The humorous ‘Haire of the Beast’ by Donna Andrews is short and sweet, whilst Simon R Green’s ‘Lucy at Christmastime’ is a poignant and delightfully funny look at the Nightside universe. ‘Il Est Ne’ is a piece featuring Kitty from Carrie Vaughn’s collection of novels and is a very nice seasonal piece, just as Keri Arthur’s story introduces new and old readers to her Para Investigation Squad.

For unrelated material we have ‘The Werewolf Before Christmas’, is a rather amusing tale/tail in which a werewolf gets more than he bargained for after snacking on a certain red nosed reindeer. However, the top giggle award goes to ‘SA’ by J A Konrath. This laugh out loud story is an absolute hoot. I shall say no more other than I bet your bum you will enjoy this one!

So, how does this anthology rate overall? With only two tales falling a little flat, this is a great festive literary feast and well worth investing in at this time of the year. Great fun!