Charlaine Harris Speaks At DragonCon 2009

September 8, 2009 by  

charlaine-harris-signingThis past Labor Day weekend, Charlaine Harris attended Dragon*Con (the largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music and film in the U.S.) in Atlanta, Ga., for the first time.  Amy Herring of the Daily Dragon Online interviewed her about her influences and her upcoming books.

When asked how she balances all of her obligations of work, family and community life, Charlaine stated that she is perfectly happy leaving the drama in the Sookie-verse:

“I think all writers live double lives. Not many of us can live up to the drama in our books (or down to it, as the case may be), and most of us don’t want to. I feel I have the best of all possible worlds; I have thrills and chills through the books, and I have the peace and pleasant chaos of my family life.”

Though Charlaine anticipated “a lot of backlash” from more conservative elements of her Arkansas hometown community because of, what Amy Herring refers to as, “the titillating and/or horrific content of the books,” especially after the debut of Alan Ball‘s Sookie Stackhouse based HBO drama, True Blood, she was happily surprised to find:

“…that didn’t happen, for two reasons. One, some of the more sensational scenes in the series weren’t in the books. Two, people here are mostly too polite to upbraid me publicly and they’re proud of my achievements. The local people who read my books simply dodge the Sookie novels and read the others, which are less… everything.”

Amy mentioned Charlaine‘s “extensive Web site at, including FAQs and a frequently updated blog” and asked about her love of movies.  Charlaine gushed:

“My favorite movie of all time is The Last of the Mohicans, with Daniel Day Lewis. It’s excellently acted, has a good script, an outstanding score and it’s gorgeous to look at. I love B and C movies, too; The Replacement Killers (Chow Yun Fat and Mira Sorvino) is one of my favorites.

While she says that films don’t inspire her writing, Charlaine does agree that  watching “Lawrence of Arabia at a very impressionable age” helped her perhaps to take in the idea “that the hero can be seriously flawed.”  We, as readers, and as viewers of Alan Ball‘s interpretation of Charlaine‘s Sookieverse, can certainly see that idea playing out in the Sookie Stackhouse series in which nearly every character has some serious character flaws that they must overcome.

While Charlaine doesn’t have any films that she recommends to her readers and to beginning writers, she is clearly a fan of Joss Whedon, stating:

“I’d recommend Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the television series), of course… I think writers benefit from being exposed to good writing and there are many well-written films and TV series out there that can teach the aspiring writer a lot, especially about dialogue. Buffy, of course. I also really enjoyed both the television series Firefly and the movie Serenity.

Readers of the Sookie Stackhouse novels will remember that Buffy is mentioned twice in Book 4, Dead to the World.  The bewitched Eric Northman, while in hiding at Sookie‘s house, thoroughly enjoys watching Buffy and laughs at the way the vampires are portrayed in the series.

Discussing some of her other novels, Charlaine goes on to state:

“…if you’re going to read my older mystery series about the librarian Aurora Teagarden — these are very traditional mysteries — maybe watching Designing Women would amplify Aurora’s world.

Charlaine also praises the writing and acting on the television series Homicide and states that “No Country for Old Men was absolutely great from every standpoint” as well.

When asked about her own taste in music “especially given the background music in the Sookieverse (which mentions bands occasionally as part of its colorful bar scene, including the Shreveport vampire bar Fangtasia),” Charlaine says:

“I’m creepy about music. The fact is, I like bagpipe music, Irish music and I listen to some zydeco from time to time. There’s a whole block of artists I missed in the past 20 years while I was raising my kids. The things I do like are very eclectic. I like country music, rock and even the occasional rap song. I listen to classical music while I’m driving, if I have control of the radio… I listen to movie music while I write. I especially like the scores of Titanic, Braveheart, and The Last of the Mohicans.

When Amy Herring mentioned the fact that, “two of the Sookie Stackhouse novels are in the New York Times paperback mass market bestseller top 5- and 20-lists, respectively,” Charlaine said:

“All the Sookie books have been on the NYT list at one point or another. Right after True Blood aired, seven of the Sookie books were in the top 15, I think. This gives me a certain amount of prestige in the publishing world, makes me a favorite at Penguin and of course I make a lot more money. This is very sweet after all the years when I wasn’t even breaking even.”

Regarding Charlaine’s “upcoming collection, A Touch of Dead (Ace, October 2009),” and Book 10 of the Sookie series, Charlaine assures fans:

“ATOD will have all the Sookie stories; not all the ones set in the Sookieverse but featuring other characters but the ones with Sookie as protagonist will all be included… I’m working on Sookie 10 now, titled Dead in the Family. There’ll be a new Sookie novella in the Sookie Companion, which we hope to have out next year. Then we’ll see.”

Readers who love the Sookie novels might also really enjoy some of her other series as well.  Charlaine states that a new book in her Grave series, “Grave Secret, will be on the shelves early in November. I’m not sure I’ll continue the series after that. Maybe I’ll write something new.”

Clearly, Charlaine has a fascination with “contact between not only the living, but with the dead and the undead,” and she says that this fascination is not new. “I’ve always been a morbid little person,” she says.  “I was a Poe fan very early in life!”

Morbid or not, Charlaine‘s stories and characters have clearly caught the fascination of fans around the world and we can look forward to much more mystery, suspense and drama in her forthcoming work.

SOURCE: Daily Dragon Online

(Photo credit: