Charlaine Harris Discusses “Dead in the Family”

May 8, 2010 by  

The author of the Sookie Stackhouse books recently gave an interview to the Philadelphia Examiner. Charlaine Harris‘s latest novel, Dead in the Family, the tenth book in the Southern Vampire series, was released earlier in the week.

Charlaine discusses her writing process (or lack of one), and her difficulties getting published in the first place.

When asked about if she was influenced at all by famed vamp novelist Anne Rice, Charlaine points out the differences between each author’s vampire world:

“Anne took the picturesque half of Louisiana, so I chose the other. Her vampires have angst and fancy names, so mine shop at the mall and have names like ‘Bill.’ Her vampires can’t and don’t want to have sex… mine definitely want to.”

But Charlaine is quick to point out that authors shouldn’t try to compete with such an iconic figure as Rice.

Considering how popular The Sookie Stackhouse books are now, it’s hard to believe that there was a time when these stories couldn’t find a publisher. But, in fact, that was the case.

“He (Charlaine‘s agent) wasn’t sure I was going in the right direction, and he knew a lot of editors would say the same. And they did. The books were hard to classify and therefore to shelve, a huge point with the chain stores. The novels weren’t mysteries, science fiction, or romance, but a blend of all three. It took two years to get a bite on the books.”

Luckily, Charlaine has a sense of humor, something she says is crucial to her life.

Charlaine was then asked if a writer should worry about upsetting their readers when it comes to  touchy subjects and social themes, considering her books don’t shy away from either.

“No, a writer shouldn’t worry; but I think upset readers may concentrate more on their anger than the message. Since I did have issues I wanted to bring up, and I didn’t want to alienate readers before they’d even gotten to the fun part of the books, I thought it would be better to insinuate what I wanted to say instead of preaching it.”

A great example of how writers must SHOW, not TELL.

Charlaine discusses her shift from conventional mystery stories to the paranormal events of Bon Temps. She also dishes on her Harper Connelly series, a paranormal series where the main character gains a special “talent” after being struck by lightning.

Charlaine also admits that when it comes to her writing process, she’s not much on planning, which leaves the future of our Sookie in question.

“When I get tired of writing, I quit writing. It’s not fair to the reader to extend the series if you’re sick of it. I have a contract up through Book 13 for Sookie, and I have to decide soon if that’s going to wrap up Sookie‘s story or not.”

But does she know how it ends?

“I do know how the series will end, but Sookie‘s life is so complicated that I can take a while getting there if I’m still enjoying the process.”

Fingers crossed.

But in the meantime, we can look forward to a collection of Sookie Stackhouse short stories titled A Touch of Dead.

Despite writing so many wonderful books, Charlaine says she really isn’t very organized when it comes to writing. But it seems to be working out for her.

She goes on to discuss her red carpet experience, now that True Blood has brought her such media attention, as well as writers who she feels deserve more attention.

Be sure to check out the entire interview in The Examiner.


(Photo credit: HBO Inc.)

  • Abbie

    I kinda agree….I have like 15 more pages to read and I noticed its not like the others. I love Sookies sexuality and how she owns it and in this book its not there. You don’t hear much of her and Eric. I just feel like there are tooo many stories going on. I wish she could have picked one of the story lines and went from there. I still love her though!!

  • jaxx

    Copied from a previous post above…..

    I hate to say this, but I read this latest installment and compared to her other books, found this one flat. My least favorite in the series. I liked the Eric/Sookie relationship and I was happy for Bill in the end but something was off with this book. Lacked a lot of content and had a lot of fillers. I hope she is just setting us up for Book 11, Dead Letters, and the Sookie Companion coming out and I hope these will be more along the lines of her other books in this series. This one just did not do it for me. *shrugs*

    “Charlaine also admits that when it comes to her writing process, she’s not much on planning”….

    Yes, and if definitely showed in this book. Sorry.