Charlaine Harris Q & A Session from Bitten by Books

October 25, 2009 by  

charlaine_harris_speaks_at_dragon_con_2009With the recent release of A Touch of Dead, the compilation of Sookie Stackhouse short stories, author Charlaine Harris took time out to answer questions in an interview and a live chat with readers on Bitten by Books. As usual, Charlaine only hinted at the future of Sookie’s love life and other mysteries that fans are curious about.

Book 10, Dead in the Family, is scheduled for release in May 2010, and Charlaine is contracted for 3 books after that, possibly with more to come later. That’s a lot of story left! And she assures readers that loose ends will be tied up, many characters will reappear, and she already knows what the closure will be at the series’ end.

She was willing to assure readers of a few things. For one, Sookie will never become a vampire. Among the characters that will be seen again are Alcide, Quinn, Hunter, Michele, and the fae.

Charlaine explains how it feels to be a writer, in terms of challenges and rewards:

“Every day is a challenge. I hate to use a sea metaphor, but being a writer is like being the entire crew of a large ship. To extend that, when you reach your destination in one piece…that’s a great reward.”

She gives some valuable advice to aspiring writers–they should have a backup plan. Success does not come immediately, and it will probably take another occupation at first to support oneself. Charlaine says that she was lucky when she got married the second time to have a patient husband who encouraged her to stay at home and write what she wanted to write. When asked where her inspiration comes from, she replies:

“I think writers are born, not made. Ideas come because I’m a writer, and they come from a variety of sources. All great ideas start with ‘what if.'”

She also says that she is pretty unorganized. But her creative process–“I just flex my fingers and go”–seems to be working just fine for her! She doesn’t really experience writer’s block, although she did feel very uncertain and upset about how to set the course for Dead in the Family because of some vicious criticism she received about Book 9, Dead and Gone. Hopefully by now, she won’t take that kind of negativity personally because she is such a great writer who has impacted her fans in so many amazing ways.

When asked about the future of printed books, given the popularity of e-book readers like the Kindle, Charlaine says that she’s not sure what the impact will be in the long run because people have such different preferences:

“I know my agent loves his, because he gets so many submissions it cuts way back on hauling a ton of paper around. And I see people on vacation very happy at having so many books at their fingertips without having to pack them. I myself still prefer to hold a book.”

Many readers wanted to know how Charlaine feels about True Blood, the actors, and the direction that executive producer Alan Ball has taken the story. She responded that she enjoys the show immensely and is not bothered by the differences, but rather finds them very interesting:

“The TV show and the books are separate experiences. Alan can’t film the books literally because they’re told in the first person. And the books aren’t a visual experience like the show. They have to be taken separately.”

Even when the actors do not match her descriptions from the books, Charlaine praises their talent in portraying the characters. She is surprised on some level by the passionate Eric fanbase because, although sexy and funny, he is such a calculating character:

“He’s ruthless and has plenty of blood on his hands. That’s clearly in the books. But he’s also capable of good feelings, too. People (and vampires) aren’t all dark or all light.”

As for the other team, Charlaine can understand why people still love and defend Bill, even after his actions in the books:

Bill has many good qualities. And to some extent, he was compelled to do many of the things he did that readers (and Sookie) don’t like.”

She feels very protective and loving towards her characters, and says she can’t choose between them.

Other tidbits that she shared: Her favorite episode of True Blood is from Season two, “I Will Rise Up,” in which Godric meets the sun. Sookie is an old Southern nickname that Charlaine liked, and was the name of her grandmother’s best friend. Other than True Blood, some of her favorite television shows are Bones, Lost, Dexter, and Project Runway. The character of Debbie Pelt (whom we will meet in Season three, and has been singled out by Alan Ball as being lots of fun to cast) is a composite of all the unpleasant women she’s ever known.

That sounds like some exciting things for fans to look forward to! A Touch of Dead, with several short stories about the Sookie universe, is in bookstores now to tide you over until Book 10 hits the shelves in May!


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