Author Charlaine Harris has been living with Sookie Stackhouse for 15 years and by the time the 13th Southern Vampire Mystery novel goes to press in 2013, she will have not only written a highly successful book series, but also inspired the equally successful HBO series True Blood. Charlaine recently sat down with Fantasy-Magazine.com to discuss how she created her vampire world, what she thinks of True Blood, her fans, Twilight, Anne Rice, and more!
Writing about vampires is nothing new. Authors such as Anne Rice wrote about the undead long before Sookie came on the scene. In fact, Charlaine herself likes Rice’s books. So what are some of the things that she likes in her books and what makes Harris’ brand of vampire different from those of Anne Rice?
“…I’m not such a great fan of her witch books, but her vampire books I just loved. Interview With the Vampire, at the time it was published, was one of the most startling, innovative books on the market and it held that private place for many years. I just can’t tell you how impressed I was with the originality of her thinking. I still think that book was just a masterstroke. And I think so many of her ideas are classics. She’s had as much influence on the vampire genre as Dracula did…And the background of Anne’s vampires, since they can’t and are not interested in having sex, there’s a tremendous homoerotic vibration going on in the background of all of the books, and in my books vampires can have sex and are, you know, very enthusiastic about that with whomever they feel like having it. So mine is a more overt and obvious sexuality than that in Anne’s books.”
Besides sex, what are some of the other things that Charlaine decided to implement for her vampires to function in the world?
“I started out knowing a few things. First, they wouldn’t be able to go out in daylight. In the [Bram Stoker] book, Dracula is a day-walker, but I had to have some system of checks and balances, I figured, because otherwise vampires are so powerful that there really wouldn’t be any point in humans trying to outwit them or stand up to them. There were some things I just decided not to tackle.
For some reason, and I can’t quite understand why, readers are secretly fascinated with the physical output of vampires. They are always trying to think of a nice way of saying, “Do your vampires poop?” Or, “Do your vampires ejaculate?” And I’m just going, you know, vampire bathroom habits are just not interesting to me.”
When asked about the appeal of the Southern Vampire mysteries and how they appeal to a wide variety of people, Charlaine says that she designed the series that way on purpose:
Absolutely. I don’t really plan my career out in any detail, which is one reason my success was so late in life, but I did hope that if I adopted a kitchen sink approach, which was something I’d always wanted to do, that it would appeal to mystery readers, romance readers, horror readers, and hopefully science fiction writers too.
So now that the 12th Sookie novel, Deadlocked is set to be published in May of 2012 and the 13th novel sometime in 2013, how does Harris feel about the end of Sookie? She says while it will be strange not working on the series anymore, it has motivated her:
I have a lot of thoughts. I haven’t ever wrapped up a series that ran this long. The previous series, I don’t think they’ve exceeded seven or eight books, so this is a new experience for me. I’ve lived with Sookie for a long, long time. By the time the last book is published, which will be in 2013, and it will be the thirteenth book, I will have been with Sookie for fifteen years—almost the entire growing-up period of my daughter, actually. So that is going to be kind of a jolt not to have her here anymore living in the house with me, but at the same time I find that facing the end of the series is giving me the most tremendous shot in the arm.
True Blood has served to not only bring the characters in Charlaine’s world to life but to expand upon it as well. So what are some of the best surprises that the series has brought out in the characters?
“There have been many surprises, almost too many to name. I think knowing that in the book Jason sleeps around is an important fact about his character, but on the screen we actually see him doing that, and it certainly has quite a different impact. And that was a tremendous, startling moment to me and I thought “ooh.” Because Jason in the books is a stupid horn dog, and he is in the show too—he’s a little sweeter in the show than he is in the books. Jessica was a complete surprise to me, but I think a brilliant one. She’s not in the books, and I think she’s a great addition to the show. Those are the two most startling, I think. Of course, Lafayette lived, and I kind of expected that; Nelsan Ellis saved his own life by being so brilliant in the show, and in the books, of course, he wasn’t that great, or as charming as Nelsan, and he died.”
And what about the other vampire phenominon Twilight? What are Charlaine’s feelings on it?
“I think that Stephanie Meyer hit the nerve she was trying for. Honestly, I think it was like a shot in the dark that paid off big for her. And I’m really glad for anybody that can make money in today’s market. She opened the door for a lot of people. Because of her, a lot of young people are growing up reading about vampires that might not necessarily have enjoyed the genre otherwise, and I also think her readers grow up to read my books. I’ve read her books. She says she does not read other vampire writers ever. So, you know, I don’t know her, and that’s probably all I can say about the Twilight books. “
Charlaine herself is also no stranger to having ardent readers of her books. So when asked about some of the more interesting things fans have posted on her message board, here’s what she had to say:
“Interesting” can be interpreted so many different ways. Some people are so invested in Sookie’s relationships that they develop a violent partisanship between one suitor and another, and finally we had to just ban that discussion from the board. People get very, very vehement. One woman said “Oh, if Sookie doesn’t end up with Eric, I’m going to kill myself.” And I said, “Surely not! Surely you wouldn’t.” And there have been pretty intense arguments over other aspects of the book. I just never expected all that. Of course I guess I’m just not used to anybody paying attention to me!”
To read this interview in its entirety, please click here.
Source: Fantasy-Magazine.com- “Feature Interview: Charlaine Harris”
Image Credit: Tina Gill, PR photos
Charlaine Harris Tina Gill PR Photos