Charlaine Harris on Her Dark and Twisted Stories

January 15, 2010 by  

When Charlaine Harris calls herself “a gruesome person,” what does that say about those of us who are addicted to her books? The author of the bestselling Sookie Stackhouse and Harper Connelly series writes about characters with troubled pasts and strange supernatural gifts. Yet, she herself lives in Arkansas, is married with three children, and holds a church office. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Charlaine talks about why she writes damaged characters, and how she uses stories to comment on society and human behavior.

Charlaine grew up on a farm in Mississippi. With a father who was a teacher and a mother who was a librarian, it’s no surprise that she loved to read and write. That may seem like an ordinary upbringing, but Charlaine had some life experiences that were “less than pleasant,” like the fact that she was raped by a home intruder while in her early 20s. None of her characters have perfect lives because that’s not how life is. Plus, as she says,

“Damaged people are more interesting to write.”

As a writer, she also sees herself as a social observer, and she tries to not only entertain with her books but also to challenge readers to think about things. With the Sookie Stackhouse series for example, there is a deep prejudice towards vampires and they are excluded from society in many ways, but they are not always the problem.

“Too often monsters are blamed for social ills when in fact it’s the human race causing all the problems.”

Harper Connelly, too, has a unique ability, to find and hear the dead, which gives her the opportunity to see some of the evil and also silliness of human beings. Harper also happens to be in love with her stepbrother, Tolliver Lang, which has freaked out some readers.

Charlaine may write dysfunctional characters, but clearly people are drawn to the imaginative and twisted stories. Sales of her books have skyrocketed in the past few years. Especially since True Blood, the Sookie books have at times dominated the bestseller lists, not just in the United States but in other countries like Australia, as well. Charlaine‘s friends and family have enjoyed the accolades she has received from her success and popularity, and her kids are “very excited to have a cool mother.”


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