Charlaine Harris’ successful Sookie Stackhouse series is the basis of the addictive TV series True Blood. Harris is touring Australia in September (Sydney and Melbourne) as a guest at Hub Production’s True Blood events, on the 25th and 26th of September and will then be doing a book tour for Hachette. Number 10 in the Sookie series Dead in the Family is published by Gollancz in June. Season 3 of True Blood will screen on Showcase in August.
True Blood fan and Bookseller+Publisher publishing assistant Andrew Wrathall asked Harris a few questions for LiteraryMinded…
Pictured below: Charlaine Harris
(photo by Christina Radish)
How did the character of Sookie Stackhouse come about?
I was in a slump, and decided to attempt to change my career. Instead of writing conventional mysteries, I thought it would be fun to write a novel with paranormal elements. I decided to write a book about a young woman who decided to date a vampire, and I built her character around that. Everything flowed from that one central concept.
When your books were adopted to television as True Blood, how much say did you have on the direction the television series took? Were you happy with Alan Ball’s vision, and Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer’s interpretation of the characters?
My input lay in writing the books. After that, I knew the wise course was to let Alan’s expertise and experience take over. From our conversations, I knew Alan was tuned into the feel and tone of the books, and since his genius lies in casting, I trusted him. I think Anna and Stephen are fantastic in their roles.
Anne Rice and I exchange emails, and I know she’s a great fan of the show. I do know Laurell, and we have a friendly relationship. I’ve never met Stephenie Meyer, who has said repeatedly that she does not read other writers in the genre. I’d like to think we all lend each other some energy in our works.
The books are written from the first person perspective of Sookie; the television series has extra storylines featuring other characters in Sookie’s world (and extended ones, such as Lafayette). Has this been an interesting experience, as a writer, to see other dimensions given to characters you created?
Oh, it’s been fascinating. Obviously, the series has to delve into the background of some of the other characters so Anna won’t have to be on-screen all the time, and I love not knowing what I’m going to see next.
Reading your books there seem to be many analogies of real-world issues in relation to vampire concepts, such as gay persecution (intolerance of vampires), or drug addiction (drinking blood), or male violence (the violent nature of vampires). How conscious was your decision to include issues – or is it more a way of rooting fantastical concepts in a world recognisable to the reader?
After a successful mystery-romance-vampire series, what’s next?
I have written the Harper Connelly books, which have been quite successful, though not on the scale of Sookie. I think I’m going to try something completely different when I have some time. I love writing the Sookie books, but it’s always good to write something else, too.
Are you looking forward to coming to Australia in September?
I am SO looking forward to it.