Behind 'True Blood': Charlaine Harris discusses her Sookie Stackhouse series

Sep 07, 2011

Charlaine Harris, the author of the Sookie Stackhouse series that inspired the hit television show "True Blood," chatted with readers about her about Sookie, her latest projects, what she thinks of "True Blood" and more.

Take the poll: Who is your favorite True Blood character?

Are you able to please tell us something about what projects are "in the works", how far along are they, when may we expect them, and, while I don't expect you to give away any plot spoilers, what are some of the things you are able to tell us about them?

I'm working on the editorial changes for the next Sookie, DEADLOCKED, out next May. Next I'll write two short stories, one for my next anthology and one for a Joe Lansdale anthology. Then I'm working on the graphic novel I'm working on with Chris Golden, CEMETERY GIRL.  It will appear next year. After that, I'll begin Sookie 13, the final installment.

I love reading your blog, especially the blurbs on your books of the week. How do you find time to read all of those books in addition to your writing?

Good question. The answer is, reading is pretty much my only hobby. I don't clean my own house any more, which frees some time I never had available before. I don't have to run as many errands, now that I have an assistant. I do still cook and do laundry!

Are you planning on writing any more books in the Lily Bard series? I got a chuckle when I saw Lily appear in the Sookie Stackhouse novels.

No, I won't ever write another Lily Bard. I said everything I had to say about Lily.

Love you!

Always good to hear.

How much longer will the show continue and how do you feel about this past season?

The show will continue with Alan Ball at the helm at least another season, and it's possible it will go on after that with other management. I love the show; I know so many of the people involved and I think very highly of their talent and commitment.

One of the things I love about reading and rereading the books is the randomness of some of your writing. When Bill's house was damaged Sookie says, "I think he has State Farm". I was laughing out loud at how perfectly normal it was for her to say that! Did you base her character on anyone you know (and write Sookie as that person talking), or do you make up her dialogue as you write each book? I LOVE book Sookie!

I created Sookie. She lives in my head, and I make up her dialogue as I write. I'm glad you find her credible and charming.

Do you still consider the characters in True Blood as your own or do you think of them as separate entities from the characters of the books because the show has taken a diverging path from the original stories?

I certainly feel proprietary toward them. They ARE my characters; they're just doing things I didn't plan for them myself.

Ms. Harris - what are your thoughts around the True Boll series popularity? Did you think it would have - excuse the pun - such a cult following?

I'm delighted the show is so popular, especially now that I know so many of the people who work on it. I never imagined my own career arc or that of the show. Who could?

I just started watching the "True Blood" series. Sookie and Tara are the weakest, DUMBest life forms walking the Earth. I have not read any of the book series, but is that the path they're supposed to be following? I know creative license in adaptation, but really, they're morons. I cannot believe a woman would intend her main protagonist and her sidekick to be so perpetually...dumb.

Then don't watch. You'll have to read the books and judge their intelligence for yourself.

 

How do you feel about Alan Ball's wanting to keep putting Bill and Sookie back together? It just seems that Sookie and Eric's relationship is so central to the books, that if Ball does what he wants, the show will become unrecognizable from the books.

I'm not sure Alan is aiming for that, myself. Bill is pretty essential to the story, too, all the way through the books AND the show. I'll be interested to see his conclusion, which may be different from mine.

I'm Daniela Zavala from Guayaquil, Ecuador - HUGE FAN!! After watching this season, is truly amazing how your description of Eric in the books and Alexander Skaarsgard are alike. He makes the exact same "puppy eyes" you describe in the 4th novel! My question is: did you ever thought to find real people so similar to your fictional characters? or did you base your characters in people you already know?

Alex is a wonderful actor, so it's not too surprising he can look appealing. Actually, he doesn't look exactly like Eric in my head, but it would be amazing if real live actors could match the people who have lived in my imagination for so long.

 

I read in the Post this past weekend that people are looking for a good story nowadays more than anything when picking a book to read. Do you agree? (I think you're a great storyteller, by the way.)

I think that's always what people are looking for. And thanks. I try very hard to write the best book I possibly can, every time.

Will Sookie find her true love by the end of the book series?

I plan on letting the reader know the course of Sookie's future by the end of the series in 2013.

Is there any way we can get the final book a little early...you know with the whole 2012 end of the world thing?

Ahhhhh . . . no.

As a die-hard fan of the SVM who has no knowledge of the literary business, could you clarify what it means to sell the rights to Alan Ball/HBO? Do they have free rein to do whatever they wish to/with the characters you created?

Basically, yes. It's a rare deal that includes any control for the writer. This is both good and bad. I freely admit I know nothing about television or writing for the screen. Obviously, Alan does. I trust him.

If you could go back and change anything in your Sookie-verse, would you?

Hmmm. Yes, I wouldn't kill Claudine, and I would have left out the Sino-Aids thread, because that never really went anywhere.

I was wondering if you were thinking of bringing Quinn back? I really loved the character and thought he and Sookie were good together.

Quinn is in the novella "Small Town Wedding" which is in the just-published SOOKIE STACKHOUSE COMPANION.

While the Sookie Stackhouse of the books is a true heroine, willing to risk herself for those she loves, and is often the girl with the plan, so to speak, are you at all disappointed that True Blood seems to present her as the damsel in distress?

I don't see her as that in the TV show, myself. She's certainly as brave as my Sookie.

Do you wish any of the True Blood characters that didn't originate (or were killed off early LOL) from the Southern Vampire Mysteries had been your creations? I know that I adore Lafayette's character and cannot imagine the series without him. Are there any characters you've seen and gone...wow, wish I'd thought of him/her for my books.

I love Jessica, and I wish I'd thought of her. Nelsan Ellis saved his own life in the TV show by being so brilliant in the part.

How did you find yourself evolving as an author as you progressed in your writing of the Sookie Stackhouse series? Any surprising ways that the story in your series is taking that you never would have imagined when you started it?

I've written a lot of books now; I've been published for over 30 years. I hope with every book I learn something new, and with every new novel I try to improve the process of writing. It's constant evolution. I am always surprised by the twists and turns in the story, on some level, though I know that it all comes from my brain!

I've been told you no longer answer questions about the blood bond that existed between Eric and Sookie until it was magically broken in Dead Reckoning. I had hoped, however, that you would address the issue in The Sookie Stackhouse Companion, if for no other reason, then to settle the issue for fans once and for all. Why did you choose not to address this topic in The Companion?

I have answered questions about the blood bond ad nauseum. I've explained it frequently, in the books and in interviews. I've just grown tired of trying to pin down something mystical, to readers' satisfactions.

Can you enlighten us,by giving away some clues as to what your next series will be about? Whether it be a mystery,or supernatural,we know it will be flawless, just innocent (eager,impatient) curiosity brings me,your loyal fan to ask this- Hannah Phillips

Flawless? No, but I wish. No, I'm not big on giving the clues. In my experience, those who talk don't write.

Many fans are speculating about the end of the book series and yesterday, talking to a friend about it, and the huge death toll on the books, we came to the conclusion that nobody expects that Sookie might end up in jail in the end, because of the people she killed. Is that "end" being considered?

I have always known how the series will end, from approximately the second book. So, there's nothing under consideration. It's all decided.

I read somewhere that you were thinking of concluding the sookie stackshouse series, possibly in the next 2 books. Please say it isn't so! Perhaps you could leave a pinhole in that portal? Please consider it.... :)

The series will be concluded in the next two books. One of my strongest beliefs is that the writer should walk away when she's said what she had to say. I can see the end of the story in sight, and it wouldn't be fair to you, the reader, to continue the series when I've run out of things to say.

As I know, your choice for Quinn would be Vin Diesel. As I see, when i was reading the book, I was thinking Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as playing Quinn. Who would be your second choice after Vin Diesel for playing Quinn?

Oh, I think Dwayne Johnson would be great! But I was really thinking of Vin Diesel's physicality, as I'm thinking of "The Rock's". What I really want is a very good actor with a shaved head who can project Quinn's intensity and  his terrible past.

While you've often said that you're okay with the changes Alan Ball has made because you know the real story, do you still feel that way given how far season 4 has deviated from the source material?

Yes. I knew that he and his talented team of writers would go in their own direction. That's what writers do. I'm much more entertained when I don't know what's going to happen.

Have you any thoughts/plans for novels to shed light on select characters from the current Sookie books. Like a story of past escapades: "The adventures of Eric the vampire"...hahaha, lame name I know.

No, I don't think I'll ever write a spinoff, but I'm not going to close that door completely.

Ms. Harris, You've continually said that the SSN are not romance novels, and I would add that Eric Northman is a bit of an anti-hero. Are you surprised by the reader response to his character and the intense interest in Sookie's HEA?

Yes, very surprised. Some readers are sure they see a traditional romance hero in Eric, but he's anything but that. He's a murderer, many times over, and pragmatic. But he does love Sookie. However, romance novels always end with everyone happy except really bad guys, and that's not the way I write.

Do you think Sookie will stay with Eric if there is no way out of his wedding , even though they would only be required to lets say meet one or twice a year?

You'll find out.

If you had to choose would you pick bill or eric? Also when is the new sookie stackhouse book released

I will never have to choose, because they're both my creations and live in my head. Sookie always comes out in May.

When will Sookie finally realize Alcide is obviously the best man here? I hope I'm not the only one who hopes to see the flame reignited!

You're certainly not alone.

We are expecting for Quinn... do you think there's a place for him in the next True Blood's season?

You'll have to ask Alan that. I certainly don't know.

Do you have/had any family members in the military?

My father served in WWII, my uncle and my father in law served just after the war, and my middle son was in the US army.

One of the things I love best about book Sookie is that, despite her touch of fairy blood, she is a human woman navigating the supernatural world with nothing more than telepathy and her wits as her weapons. How do you feel about the 'fairy powers' she has been given on True Blood?

Alan's obviously got a different idea from mine, and I'm interested to see where it's going.

Why would you let them ruin...completely ruin...the show? Everything they did ruined it for me, except for Eric and Bill's actors/characters. They changed so much that it isn't the sookie stackhouse series to me anymore. It's a whole different thing, and I can't enjoy it. >:(

Then don't watch it.

When you agree to have your books turned into another medium, you basically have to have faith in the person who's responsbile for the transformation. It's NEVER going to be exactly like the books.

Would you ever consider writing a spin off story that would be from Eric and Pams' POV or start a new series based off Jessica (though I know she's not in the original books, she does bring a fresh perspective). LOVE you're Sookie series - gonna be so sad when it ends!!!! XO - Anna from New Jersey

I would never write a character that wasn't mine originally. I very much doubt I'll write a spinoff, though I'm not shutting that door completely.

In your new sookie short story, you introduced an interesting new character. Will this new psychic be in the new Sookie novel "Dead Reckoning"?

She's not in DEAD RECKONING because the short story takes place after that novel, if I'm remembering correctly. I don't know if I'll use her again or not.

I've been wondering that are you really happy with the TV series? If there would be something you personally would want to change, what would it be?

Yes, I'm very happy, especially since my book sales increased in a delightful way when the show went on the air. I would no more tell Alan how to change the show than he would tell me how to change the books.

if this series is just an excuse for people to take off their clothes, why not move the series to the Spice Channel and have them really do it? Thanks for Lafayette.

You do realize I have nothing to do with the show, right?

Charlene, I want to first say that I love the Sookie Stackhouse series. She feels like a real friend to me and I'll be sad when the series ends in 2013. Have you always known how you were going to end the series?

Yes, since sometime around the second book. I don't want to let my readers down by writing the books when I don't feel enthusiastic any more.

Are there any characters from the TV show you've watched and gone...Gee, wish I'd thought of them 1st! I love the character of Lafayette in the series and couldn't imagine the show without him. What is your favourite character that didn't originate (or got killed off quickly LOL) from your books?

Jessica. I think she's great, and a perfect foil for Bill, her unwilling maker.

 

Dear Chalaine, I love your books and am finally catching up on the HBO series. Can I just say, whoever cast the actor who plays Alcide -- give that man or woman a raise! Wowsers :) Now that's who I'll be picturing when I read your next book.

Joe is not only attractive to look at, he's wonderful to talk to. We've had some good conversations.

Not a question, just a comment- Ms. Harris, I've been a reviewer and interviewer for 25 years, and I have to say, I think you are one of the nicest professionals I've encountered. I'm so happy for all your success and wish you nothing but the best in the future. Kindest regards, Drew Bittner, Alexandria VA

What a kind thing to say. Not only did I have an excellent mother and father who brought me up right, but I know that you receive what you sow. I certainly have moments when I'm less than wonderful . . .

I've avidly read all of the Sookie Stackhouse books as well as the Harper Connelly series. Do you have any plans to continue the Harper Connelly series or is it finished? Thanks!

I feel I've said everything I wanted to say about Harper, but there are the comic books! They're a lot of fun, and a really interesting way to revisit the books. I had a TV option for a series based on the books, but that's pretty much hanging fire.

Hi Charlaine, I'm a long time fan. The first book of yours that I read was Secret Rage many years ago. That was a very hard book to read and must have been a hard one for you to write. For the same reasons, I loved your first Lily Bard book. Writing from the viewpoint of a raped woman cannot be easy but has meant a lot to many readers as they know they are not alone. Thank you.

I am a rape survivor myself. Yes, those books were hard to write; at the same time, it was therapeutic for me, and I hoped that other survivors would find something they could relate to.

Hi, Charlene. I love your books, especially Sookie Stackhouse. Over the years, the story style in the Stackhouse series seems to have changed from mystery stories that could stand alone to a more extended narrative without individual mystery stories within each one. What caused the change?

Sookie's story changed, the story I was telling. I began to feel the narrative would get stale if I stuck to the same format every time.

Do Harper and Sookie exist in the same universe? If so, does Harper ever get a reading or sense of vampires?

No, they don't exist in the same world. It would be very hard for Harper to manage Sookie's universe.

I've always wanted to ask you about the scene in the books when it's revealed that Bill had been sent by the Queen to get close to Sookie. Had you been planning that for Bill all along? Or did it occur to you closer to writing Definitely Dead? Thanks! Michelle, Minneapolis, MN

I knew there was an awful secret in Bill's past, but I wasn't sure exactly what it was. When I was writing the book, I suddenly realized what he'd done, and it was an amazing writing day for me.

How do you ensure that all your characters and story lines hang together over a long series? Do you re-read your books or are you so familiar with the story lines and the details that you don't need to? What's your trick to maintaining consistency in your characters across books that have taken years to write?

Some people would say I hadn't maintained consistency, in some factual ways. I know the characters very well, so I'm safe there, but I have made some bloopers in past years which I've had to correct. I have a continuity editor now, Victoria Koski, and she keeps me on an accurate path.

Where did your inspiration for "Sookie" come from? She is quite an interesting character!

I slowly built her based on the fact that she was dating a vampire. That meant there was something that made her unable to date regular men. And since she's not stupid, it had to be something pretty big; dating a vampire is a dumb thing to do, obviously. It all developed from that.

Do you have any input as to who they hire for the roles of the characters you created?

No, I'm not an experienced casting director. I think part of Alan's genius lies in hiring the right person for the job.

Are you happy with the Television interpretation of your books? Are you happy or sad about the differences?

Happy! I love the show.

Obviously everyone that has read the Sookie Stackhouse novels are enamored with Sookie & Eric's relationship. I know you have said before in interviews that Sookie will probably never be turned into a vampire. If this isn't the case, what can we look forward to in terms of Sookie & Eric's slightly rocky relationship?

That's a key part of the last two books, so I'm not going to get into it here.

Your character Eric Northman is hugely popular in the books and the show. Can you tell us in yoiur own words, how Eric has evolved emotionally over the last 11 books?

I don't know that Eric is evolving so much as that the reader is getting to see more and more of his layers acquired over a thousand years of existence. Eric always watches out for Eric, and secondly his child Pam. He does have another child we haven't met. He is very practical. But he does love Sookie. Obviously, this is a huge conflict for him.

Hi Charlaine, I'm a UK reader, and I absolutely love your books. However, surprisingly I've never been much of an Eric or Bill fan! I've always hoped Sookie would end up with Alcide - even when he acts like a pillock! Although, I love Eric and Bill as characters, is there any chance of Sookie and Alcide ending up together or are their lives too different now? Thank you! Gemma.

Gemma, I never discuss who Sookie might end up with. As you can imagine, I get many questions about this interesting topic. I like Alcide too, but he has shown bad judgment in the past in his love life.

Thank you so much, Charlene, for creating a character that shows readers that just because you feel different and just because people treat you badly, doesn't mean you're not important. As a woman who spent much of my childhood being teased and bullied, Sookie is a real comfort to me and a reminder that I can still be a strong woman despite my past experiences. Thank you.

I am always thrilled when readers tell me I've helped them. There's no greater compliment. And you've gotten the essential core of Sookie absolutely right.

How do you feel about the extreme loyalty by some fans to particular characters (i.e. Eric)?

I know it's a compliment, and I appreciate their involvement in the books; absolutely, I do. Most writers dream of such advocacy. But sometimes I feel that they're not reading the same book I'm writing.

Who is your favorite character?

That I've written? Well, there are things about all the characters that I really enjoy. It's always fun to write Pam, and sometimes figuring out Bill can be really interesting. They all have their moments!

Hi Charline, i was just wondering how it all began. How did you come up with Sookie Stackhouse world?

I wanted to write about a woman who was dating a vampire. I had to create a reason she would do such a stupid thing, without being a stupid person. Gradually, I began to see Sookie's world and the people in it. It was a ton of fun.

What do you think of the different choices that the writers have made in comparison to your own? Are there any you wish you had made or some that you completely disagree with?

The "True Blood" writers, you mean. Well, I think they've done some amazing stuff! I certainly never thought of drowning a possum, and the way the house looked after Marianne's takeover was just delicious. I'm really just along for the ride.

You have become my most favorite author! (moved Mark Twain down a notch) I have read and re-read the Sookie Stackhouse series and I enjoy the HBO series. It gives the books a different twist, so I get twice the enjoyment! I don't look forward to the book series ending, but I know you have other projects that need your attention as well. Thank you for all you have done with your work. Your are indeed very talented.

Thanks so much! I think "twice the enjoyment" is how I look at the experience of the show, too. I hope you enjoy whatever I decide to do next, as well.

How long was it between when you first thought of your basic ideas for Sookie Stackhouse and when you started writing about it? I am curious, as a writer, for some ideas, I have thought about for years, and others just hit me and I start writing them. I am wondering what your process was.

It wasn't too long between my vision of Sookie's world and when I began the book. I'm not much of an outliner. I have a loose plan, if I'm lucky. If I don't have a plan, I fly by the seat of my writing pants. My strength and my weakness!

Do you think there's going to be drastic changes since the show is most likely not going to be able to out live your books?

There have already been some pretty drastic changes. I'm sure there'll be more. Don't forget, Alan has a lot more books to pick events from, if he chooses.

How could you decide where Erik would come from, and why Sweden?

Well . . . why not? I wanted a good, hearty Viking with a strong sense of self, and I did a smattering of research to figure out his background.

Hi Ms. Harris, I am really enjoying the SSC, and all the effort put into it is obvious. Job well done. I have a very specific question in regard to the Felipe de Castro bio in the character section of the Companion. It says that "Felipe is aware of (Victor's ambitions) and, as it turns out, had his own plans for Victor." I had assumed that Felipe's plan was to let Victor and Eric duke it out, and that Felipe would stay out of it, preferring to back whoever came out on top, and I view this statement as confirmation of that theory. Would you be willing to shed some light on this?

I'd say that was a pretty accurate theory, for the most part.

I know you have to be savvy about it all, but book 4 was my fave (though love them all). Fiona Shaw was brilliant, but season 4 just didn't have the emotional impact of the book. Do you take the changes personally? Or is that just the fans? :)

I don't take it personally. Alan's writers are brilliant and they have their own ideas about what constitutes good television.

Is anything exciting coming up for Pam in books 12 & 13?

Yes. But I'm not telling, yet.

Where did Eric hide Debbie Pelt's car?

I believe it's at the bottom of a pond way back on someone else's property. But that's just a rumor.

What are your all-time favorite books and authors? Who do you think has influenced your writing the most?

There are too many to list here. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, JANE EYRE, THE THREE MUSKETEERS, and THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE all had a place in my development as a writer. I'm a very heavy reader, so there are lots of books I love.

Is Sookie a Seelie or an Unseelie? What court was she with in the first episode of this season?

I don't include the fairy courts in my books. Instead, the two factions of the fae are divided into those who are sky fae and those who are water fae.

Is it true that there won't be anymore Harper Connelly books? Why not?

I've told Harper's story. I have nothing more to say about her now. I'm very determined not to out-write myself.

What do you think is the most important quality that Sookie wants and/or needs in a romantic partner? (Are they two different things?)

Gosh, I think Sookie wants what most women want: stability, companionship, and she'd like to have children.  She's used to adventure now, though, and that may be a factor in her relationships.

Now you have assistants and help, but in the beginning you had young kids (I'm a long time fan!), how did you manage?

Not very well! It was always a juggling act, like any other working mother. Now, instead of kids, I have business. There's always something I need to make a decision about.

Will you grace the series with another cameo?

What a nice way to put it. If I'm ever in L.A. when they're filming a scene I could reasonably be in, I'd love to.

It seems like everyone in the sookie stackhouse universe turns out to be supernatural. Are humans just too boring?

There are lots of humans in the books, too, and they're anything but boring, at least to me. Tara is human, Andy is human, Kennedy is human. Jason used to be, anyway. Michele is human.

Why will Sookie 13 be the end? I'm sure there's more your nimble mind can think up for her to get into. Thanks.

I've told Sookie's story, and it's time to do something different. You wouldn't like the result if I kept writing once I'd lost my enthusiasm.

I have read some of your collaborative works with other authors, Strange Brew being one of them. How much time does it require of you to participate in these stories?

Those weren't true collaborations. I wrote my story and sent it in. Now I'm really collaboring with Chris Golden on a graphic novel, and that's quite a different process.  It takes me about three weeks to write a short story, depending on several different factors.

I think that your writing about vampires is the most convincing since I don't know when; it even out-beats Buffy The Vampire Slayer; you have so much realism here. You have hit the head on the nail. I feel that if vampires existed this is how it would happen. Thank you for your wonderful writing.

Cool! That's an ideal remark. I loved "Buffy," by the way.

Sounds like they like your children--you created them, but they are doing things you never planned for them! That answers my previous question!

But it really does all come from inside my head, at the same time. The wonders of being a writer . . .

Charlaine, what were the your publishers first reactions to the Sookie Stackhouse series? Did they believe that the book would be a hit?

DEAD UNTIL DARK got turned down by more editors than you can shake a stick at. I'd never written a more unpopular book. My agent (Joshua Bilmes) couldn't sell it for two years. Finally, Ace took it, and I think they've been pretty happy with the result.

What do you think about Eric remembering his time with Sookie straight away on True Blood? Were you surprised they did that? And do you think they will now get together a lot faster than in the books when he struggled with not remembering?

I'm always surprised by the show, which is one thing I love. I have no idea what will happen next.

Will there be more in the Aurora Teagarden series? Those were the first novels by you that I read and I really enjoyed them.

I'd like to find time to write another one, but so far that hasn't materialized.

I know that there are a lot of Vampire related literature around these days; my question is, have you always been interested in the supernatural and if so, how do you think your Vampires compare to the other more "sparkly" versions?

There weren't nearly as many vampire themed books when I started writing this series, even the sparkly kind; after all, I wrote the first book at least thirteen years ago, if not earlier. Yes, I've always been interested in the supernatural, but not vampires more than any other supernatural figure.

I loved your comment to the person who doesn't like the show! What is after the last Sookie book? Will you do another paranormal series?

The door is wide open. I have a lot of ideas, and I'm very excited about another chapter in my life.

Just want to add that I loved you before you wrote Sookie Stackhouse. RMc

Always good to hear that my older work has fans, too.

You and I are friends. I think I may have mentioned to you before that reading Sookie is almost like having a conversation with you. I love also some of the references to things that really happened. Remember Last of the Mohicans? RMc

One of my favorite movies, and one of the few cases where the movie is actually better than the book. I'm glad that the books feel so comfortable to you.

Hi! Looking at your website, you've amassed such a large body of work. What's your typical workday look like?

I go to work about eight in the morning, though I'm usually out in my office answering emails before then. I work until lunch time, take a break, go back to work. Pretty much the same as everyone else! And like everyone else, I get interrupted about a hundred times a day.

Please pardon my ignorance, yet how much input do you have on what happens to your characters on HBO's "True Blood"? What exactly are you able to, and not able to, do regarding what happens on the show?

When I gave Alan Ball the rights to the characters, that's a comprehensive thing. He stays true to the spirit of the books, which is all I ask. This is very typical of any deal with Hollywood.

With so many strong female characters under your belt, I've always wondered if you consider yourself to be a feminist. Thanks!

Absolutely, and proud of it.

I've all of your Sookie Stackhouse novels before beginning the True Blood series. Claudine was always a favorite character of mine; I missed her presence after her death in the book. What are your thoughts about the Fae within the show? Do you think they gave Claudine the justice she deserved?

Claudine is so very different in the show that you can't really compare the two characters. I've always been sorry I killed her in the books; a mistake, I think now.

Had the luxury of seeing you at a book signing this past spring in Ann Arbor, MI. You indicated your Sookie books will be complete by 2013. Are you already thinking of your next set of characters or novels, or are you looking for a break or possibly a retirement from writing? I would hate to see you go!

I don't think I'll ever retire. What would I do? Yes, I'm already thinking of what to next, and very excited about the prospect.

Sookie Stackhouse is such a unique and catchy name. How did you come up with it?

Sookie is a very old southern nickname; in fact, my grandmother's best friend was called Sookie. "Stackhouse" just seemed to make the name roll out. It's not a weird name, but it's unusual enough to stand out.

Will we see Niall in the next book?

Yes.

Charlaine, what does your family think about the Sookie Stackhouse series? I know I would personally be embarrassed if my Mom read a sex scene that I came up with. Does it influence your writing at all?

My parents were pretty cool with the whole thing. They were very proud of my success and I'm so glad they lived to see it. There comes a point when you have to say, "I'm an adult, and they know that." I miss them both every day.

Charlaine - really enjoy your books - thank you for writing such fun to read novels! Will Quinn ever make a reappearance in a meaningful way? I must confess to being a Quinn fan (I picture him as Jason Momoa from Conan and GoT). Thanks!

Isn't Jason Momoa amazing-looking? Quinn is in the novella "Small Town Wedding" which is in THE SOOKIE STACKHOUSE COMPANION.

Will Sookie be traveling in Book 12 or staying put in Bon Temps? Are there any other hints you can give us about the next book?

She'll be in Bon Temps. And that's all I'm saying.

I don't have a question; more like a thank you. THANK YOU for understanding that the show was going to be different then the books. I can understand why fans would be upset; but of course the show would have to take different leaps and directions to get somewhere; it makes it more interesting if it's not exactly what was in the books. It doesn't take away what you did as a writer; because it's already there; written in book form. I love that you understand the new adaption and have trust and love for Alan Ball.

I am very fond of Alan, and I think he's a genius.

I think you're right to end series. Some have been around so long that they just go into silliness. I loved Lily, (and was happy for her cameos in the Sookie books) and I adore, adore, Adore Harper, my fave of your series, and I love 'em all), but it feels right that her story is ended, so a thanks from a fan who would hate to see her wane into silliness

I'm so glad you understand.

We all know that the Southern Vampire Mysteries series is coming to an end. Have you already begun work on a new series of novels or will you be taking a bit of a break after the last "Sookie" book?

I don't think I'll take a break, or at least not much of one. I'll be one to something new, and enjoying the difference.

I just want to tell you I really love your books!!!! I'm would like to know if they will be translated in French!

Yes, they're published in French.

Just finished reading "Death takes a Vacation." Really enjoyed it. Thanks for introducing me to so many excellent authors. I plan on finding more books/stories by my favorites. Will you be doing more anthologies in the future?

Oh, yes. We're working on the next one already; it's school-themed, and it's called "An Apple for the Creature." Toni and I have a great time.

Earlier in this chat, someone asked about your thoughts on Eric. I was wondering why you are always seem surprised by the amount of love fans have for him, since he's a "ruthless anti-hero murderer" and all?

I'm not surprised that people find him attractive. I certainly tried to make him so! I am surprised that people seem to sometimes see him as a typical romance hero . . . which he's not.

I'm sorry I've accidentally called you "Charlene." I know better! I blame being overexcited when presented with the opportunity to ask one of my favorite authors a question. Thanks for writing such great books, Charlaine!

You're forgiven!

Can you recommend any authors or favorite books?

Absolutely, and let me say here that I do review books I've enjoyed on my Book & Blog feature on my website. I always read any Lee Child novel: and the list just goes on. I think Harry Connelly is very interesting, and I think Tanya Huff is great. Jeanne Stein, Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs . . . I could go on forever.

Do you foresee Sookie coming to her senses and realizing that dating a vampire is not a smart thing to do? Will she ever realize that she has the perfect guy in Sam, who she seems to only view as her best friend right now?

The forthcoming books will have your answer.

and a quick thank you as this wraps up. very interesting chat. you have a lot of patience with us insatiable fans. thanks for many hours of happiness you've given me. you're one of my fave living authors. just want to take the time to say thank you for your work

Thanks for telling me.

Are you at all afraid of how people will react to the end of the Sookie series?

Hah! Yes!

Thank you so much for creating the Sookie Stackhouse Companion! It was so much fun to read. I can't wait to try the recipes! I have loved being inside Sookie's world for years and I am excited to see what happens to everyone. Sam is my favorite, he is the rock of her world. Thanks for letting us tag along.

Glad you're enjoying Sookie's world.

I was wondering who YOUR favorite vampire book series you have read in the past and who writes them?

I love the Tanya Huff BLOOD books, and I love Barbara Hambly's THOSE WHO HUNT THE NIGHT. I think INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE  is an absolute icon, and I've enjoy Laurell K Hamilton, too.

I loved seeing Quinn in the Small Town Wedding short story in the Companion. Thank you for giving the readers some closure on his relationship with Sookie. Do you think he will make another appearance in the novels before the end of the series?

Uncertain on that.

I always enjoy reading about the people who have helped in your research for the books and the various "supes." Where did you find the Maenad character?

Classical mythology. And I've always thought Mary Renault was a fabulous writer.

Reading amateur reviews of the Sookie books, I find it so frustrating that many people get angry and suggest the story should change because they are unhappy with the way it was written (one example is when Sookie was brutally tortured and some people complained that it was "too dark"). As a writer, do these criticisms annoy you? I know, as a reader, that I feel like some people can't enjoy a story unless it goes exactly the way they want it. Personally, I love the series as a whole, especially when an unexpected twist surprises me.

I try not to read those reviews, because I don't think it's my job to defend my choices. Accept them or read someone else. There are plenty of books out there to read. I'm the queen of my own universe.

You have said that you wonder sometimes if your readers are reading a different book than you. How would you classify the series? What are they missing, in your opinion?

I don't like to think of readers as "missing" something. I think they come with different expectations, maybe. I think of the books I'm writing as adventure, not romance in the strictest sense.

I was surprised when I got to All Together Dead to find you had incorporated Hurricane Katrina into your series. What made you decide to include that? And also, where do you think the series would have gone had you elected not to include the events of Katrina?

I included Katrina out of respect for the people of the Gulf Coast, especially Lousiana. I don't think its inclusion really changed the series, but I couldn't ignore something so catastrophic.

Ever spoken with Stephenie Meyer about your stories? I'm willing to bet she was influenced by your Sookie series.

Stephenie Meyer doesn't come to the same conventions I attend, and she has said publicly many times that she does not read other vampire novels.

What is your favorite restaurant?

Hmm. Locally, or chain? Impossible to answer!

Leslie Mitchell and Michelle Howard Roberson are two huge fans of yours.  Can you please give them a shoutout? Thanks!

Hi, Leslie and Michelle! I'm wrapping up here, so you all have a great day.

In This Chat
Charlaine Harris
#1 New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris writes both fantasy and mystery and will be the 2011 Guest of Honor at BoucherCon. HBO’s hit series, True Blood, which premiered in 2008, is based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels. Harris lives in a small town in Southern Arkansas with her family. Her website is www.charlaineharris.com.

Photo credit: Sigrid Estrada
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