Charlaine Harris Discusses the Vampire Outbreak

June 29, 2010 by  

While vampires have been stretching the human imagination since the earliest of civilizations, Charlaine Harris has simply created an updated, dramatic, and sexy version of the undead. In May 2010, Dead in the Family hit book stores as the tenth installment of the Sookie Stackhouse novels and this June HBO premiered the third season of True Blood, the series inspired by Charlaine’s novels.

In the books, Sookie is a blond, buxom, telepath living in Bon Temps, Louisiana. As she falls into one dangerous mystery to the next, she must also decide between two vampires: the ex-Confederate Southern gentleman Bill Compton or the Viking Eric Northman. To make matter even more complicated there are tigers, werewolves, maenads, fairies, and shape-shifters all vying for a chance to court Sookie…or to kill her.

While Anne Rice set her famous vampire stories in the bayous and French Quarter of Louisiana, Charlaine sets her story in the less creepy Northern Louisiana. Charlaine sees Anne Rice as an integral part of the vampire genre and thinks she did a spectacular job at using Southern Louisiana as the home for her vampires. It was natural then, for Charlaine to use a part of Louisiana that was less known in the vampire genre.

While Anne Rice showcases the perspective of vampires, Charlaine wanted to go in a very different direction with her vampire novels. She notes,

“I didn’t want to write about being a vampire…I wanted to write about people who were interacting with vampires. I thought it would be fun to write about a woman dating a vampire, so I imagined what kind of woman would do such a stupid thing. It’d have to be a woman who couldn’t date humans for another reason.”

As it would happen, Sookie’s telepathic abilities leave her drained when interacting with humans. She’s either listening to their thoughts or trying to keep a steady wall up against all those thoughts crashing in on her. When she’s with a vampire, she can let out a sigh of relief as she is unable to hear their thoughts.

Another reason why Sookie would want to date a vampire is that in Charlaine’s world, they’re down to earth. Charlaine says,

“They’re just like everyone else…Some of them are good; some are bad…I wanted to kind of anchor them in reality and make them unromantic, since I just thought that would be funny.”

Funny is an interesting word to use in the vampire genre. With most television shows and films, vampires are admired for their beauty and superhuman sex appeal. The Twilight movies, CW’s The Vampire Diaries, and even True Blood follows this formula in order to get the viewers addicted.

This isn’t to say Charlaine’s novels don’t mention sex. On the contrary, Charlaine’s novels are aimed for adults. She points out that her novels predate Stephanie Meyer’s novels by several years and that while Stephanie Meyer’s books keep alive the story of Romeo and Juliet, hers certainly do not. Sookie is not a damsel in distress; she’s willing to fight and defend herself when necessary. When it comes to love, Sookie’s been betrayed by Bill, has been devastated, has picked up the pieces and has looked in new directions for love.

Oh, and then there’s the sex. Charlaine’s books contain detailed oriented scenes that make any reader feel like they just finished a workout. However, Charlaine refuses to go any further with the differences between her series and that of Stephanie Meyer’s. She firmly believes that she is not Stephanie Meyer’s critic, and rather she is glad that the Twilight series has been successful.

As for dishing about Alan Ball, Charlaine was enthusiastic about the genius who translated her books to TV. As a fan of Six Feet Under, Charlaine knew Alan Ball would do a great job at recreating Sookie’s world. She notes,

“I knew that he got the mixture of humor and horror that the books are. I knew he would do them justice…He wouldn’t gloss over painful parts and make everything shiny.”

With True Blood and the Sookie Stackhouse novels being such a success, one would think Charlaine is too busy for anything else. Aside from creating a world for Sookie to live and love in, Charlaine is busy with her family and a numerous amount of other projects. She lives with her husband, her college-aged daughter (while also keeping an eye on her two other grown up kids), various dogs, and a duck in Arkansas. She is a 10 time best seller, and the body of her work is incalculable. Dynamite Entertainment will be creating a comic based on the first book of her series Harper Connelly.

With the sucess of True Blood, not only is her vampire novels getting a bigger readership, but her other novels as well. Charlaine reveals,

“They’re selling more than when they were first published…I don’t know what happened with those books. I know I was really discouraged when they were released. I really thought at the time, That’s the best I can do and if this isn’t successful I just don’t know what I could do that would be as good. Well, luckily for me, I did come up with something.”

Currently, she is working on the eleventh installment of the Sookie saga. When asked about the other writers and all of the vampire stories being produced, Charliane feels that it is a reflection of the current social identity: youth obsessed and perfection searching culture. No matter, because these other vampire novels aren’t ruining Charlaine’s imaginative creations.

Charlaine Harris continues to be an inventive and prolific writer. With every book she writes, she creates a magical world that is accessible to the reader. Her characters are more than vampires, more than supernatural…they’re ultimately human. Readers can’t ask for more…well, there is one thing we can ask for: more Sookie novels!

Credit: Vanity Fair

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