Interview with Charlaine Harris

Posted by Goodreads on May 2, 2010
Charlaine Harris Despite her peaceful country lifestyle in rural Arkansas and her genteel Southern manners, Charlaine Harris has a knack for danger. Trouble follows the telepathic heroine of her rabidly popular Sookie Stackhouse series. The plucky barmaid gets caught in a love triangle between two vampires, works for a shape-shifter, flirts with a werewolf, and lives with a witch. Harris's series has even been adapted into a hit HBO show, True Blood. In her newest adventure, Dead in the Family, an unknown threat lurks in the woods surrounding Sookie's house. Harris discusses what's next for her brave telepath and reveals what kind of "supe" she would be.

Goodreads: Your new book, Dead in the Family, has an overarching theme of family, which fits right in with the Southern values that permeate your writing. However, characters from broken homes and estranged families are often featured in the Sookie Stackhouse saga as well as your Harper Connelly and Lily Bard series. Why is this a common thread in your books?

Charlaine Harris: Hard for me to figure out, too, since I came from a stable and loving home myself. I think broken and dysfunctional families lend themselves to more drama, and that's the name of the game in my world. Also, my protagonists are usually facing the world by themselves, and that's something I admire.

GR: Sookie's adventures have always included an element of danger, so much so that her New Year's resolution was not to get beat up. However, in your last book, Dead and Gone, Sookie comes closer to death than ever before. How will this near brush with death affect her psychological health, and will she be less inclined to stay involved with the supernatural community?

CH: Of course this will affect her inner life profoundly. Sookie has to admit that if she's pinned between survival and her Christian beliefs, survival will win. By now Sookie knows that she's inextricably linked to the supernaturals.

GR: Telepathy alienates Sookie from other humans. Why did you choose this special power for her when creating her character?

CH: I considered lots of other disabilities. But telepathy allowed her to remain physically and mentally fit, even mentally tough, though it prevented her from dating. I wanted her to experience love for the first time at a later age than most women come to it.

GR: Your books often show that supernatural ability can be more of a curse than a blessing, but supernatural powers are still undeniably irresistible. If you had to become a supe, what would you choose? A telepath, a vampire, a fairy, some kind of shape-shifter or were, a witch, or something else?

CH: I wouldn't choose to be any kind of supe. If I had to pick, I guess I'd be a witch; at least then I'd remain in my human form.

GR: How do you balance conventional wisdom for the "rules" that govern fantasy creatures (e.g. vampires must avoid the sun or werewolves must turn at the full moon) with your own imagination and ideas for the characters?

CH: The freedom of picking and choosing the rules is that you can use the ones that make your world work. However, you have to think long and hard about your world construction; sometimes, I think, writers make choices simply because they don't seem to want to work around an inconvenience.

GR: With a series of now ten books spanning thousands of pages, it must be challenging to map everything out in advance. Are there any plot points from earlier books that are now causing trouble with your current story goals? (Spoiler Alert! Don't read her answer if you haven't read book 9.)

CH: It would be hard to map out everything in advance, if I ever did so. I just charge ahead. Yes, there are plot decisions I made that I deeply regret. The blood bond! Oh, gosh, I wish I'd never done that. And I turned out to be sorry I'd killed Claudine, though I had several reasons to knock her off, which you'll see in Dead in the Family.

GR: Your home in southern Arkansas is notably conservative. Since the premiere of HBO's True Blood, how have your friends and neighbors reacted to the often titillating and graphic adaptation of your books? What about the TV show has surprised you the most?

CH: They're so great about it. I was really worried after I saw the screener of the first episode! They're just happy I've come so far in my career. If they hate it, they're saying it behind my back so I won't get upset, which is the Southern way. What's surprised me the most? The visual richness of the show. The details of Sookie's house, Merlotte's, Lafayette's house...just wonderful!

GR: Goodreads member Kristin asks, "Where in the world did you get the name Sookie?"

CH: It's an old Southern nickname. My grandmother's best friend was called Sookie.

GR: Cleverly named Goodreads member "new_user" asks, "What's it like writing in the genre now versus when you first started?"

CH: Well, it's much more crowded, for one thing. I'm not a pioneer anymore, just one of a thundering herd. But it's nice to have so many options about reading material!

GR: Goodreads member Angie asks, "I've always wondered if [Charlaine] knows the way the Sookie Stackhouse series will end or if she doesn't have things planned that far out. When a series runs as long as hers has, [does] she keep all her options open or work toward a set conclusion?"

CH: I do know the end. It's one thing I've known for a long, long time.

GR: What authors, books, or ideas have influenced you?

CH: So many it's hard to name them all. Just to touch on a few: Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice, Underworld, Jane Austen, Blade, Dracula, Laurell K. Hamilton, Barbara Hambly, Barbara Paul...it goes on and on.

GR: Describe a typical day spent writing and any unusual writing habits.

CH: I don't have a typical day anymore. It used to go like this: work from 8 to 11:30, lunch break, house and kids in the afternoon. Then it went to: work from 8 to 11:30, lunch break, back to work in the afternoon. Now it's: interviews, queries, and small tasks first thing in the morning, try to work an hour or two, break for lunch, back to taking care of office business in the afternoon, try to cram in some more work.

GR: What are you reading now? Do you have any favorite books or authors?

CH: Right now I'm reading Wedlock by Wendy Moore, a nonfiction book about the terrible marriage of Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore. I have many favorite books and authors. I love Jane Austen, and I read Lee Child, Barry Eisler, Charlie Huston, Dana Stabenow [Goodreads Author], Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong [Goodreads Author], and Jim Butcher.

GR: What are you working on now, and what will come after the Sookie series reaches its conclusion?

CH: I'm working on Sookie 11 now. I don't know what I'll work on when the series reaches its conclusion. But it'll be fun.

Comments Showing 1-50 of 52 (52 new)


message 1: by Masey (new)

Masey Why is Dead in the Family no longer available on the Kindle?


message 2: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Spoke with Amazon. They haven't resolved their agency agreement with Penguin publishers so all penguin books aren't available on kindle.


message 3: by The Flooze (new)

The Flooze She regrets the blood bond! Oh noes!


message 4: by Donna (new)

Donna I'm glad there's regret for offing Claudine. I'm sure at some point we find out why it was necessary, but at the time I just thought it was cruel. Knitting booties one moment... Very cruel.


message 5: by Erin (new)

Erin The Flooze (Michelle M.) wrote: "She regrets the blood bond! Oh noes!"

I know! I love the blood bond. I have read in another interview that she is planning on breaking the bond in book 11 or 12.


message 6: by The Flooze (new)

The Flooze Erin wrote: "The Flooze (Michelle M.) wrote: "She regrets the blood bond! Oh noes!"

I know! I love the blood bond. I have read in another interview that she is planning on breaking the bond in book 11 or 12."


:(

Can't say I'm surprised though. Sook did give Amelia the go-ahead to look into breaking it. Who knows? Maybe it'll be a good thing!


message 7: by Angie (last edited May 07, 2010 09:07AM) (new)

Angie Aaaah! There are spoilers in this interview!! Yikes!

GoodReads... please mention this!! :o)


message 8: by Melissa (new)

Melissa I love the blood bond too! I adore that someone who is typically so closed off is now completely emotionally vulnerable to Sookie! I feel better about Eric's feelings for her because we're not "decoding" them ... they're his real feelings because the blood bond "told us!" If it has to go away ... can Eric and Sookie still be together? Please? Ha :o)Loved book 10, THANKS!


message 9: by Donna (new)

Donna Heresy alert. I hope she & Eric can't be together. Ultimately it would mean Sookie becoming a vampire, but mostly I want more Quinn. Bring on the tiger lovin.


message 10: by Kate (new)

Kate Personally, I cannot wait for the Eric/Sookie thing to end, I find it disturbing on several levels that she's willing to be with a man who has been so historically cruel to people. Including tricking her into a vampire marriage and then not. letting. it. go. *sigh* I wish Sookie and Alcide had had a chance, poor Alcide, Harris must hate him too :(

I'm glad Harris regrets the blood bond and killing off Claudine! What does she have against pregnant women anyway?


message 11: by Carol (new)

Carol Palmer Just so happy to read that one of my favorite authors and myself are both fans of Jane Austen. Wonder if she's read "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies".


message 12: by Shakeh (new)

Shakeh Donna wrote: "Heresy alert. I hope she & Eric can't be together. Ultimately it would mean Sookie becoming a vampire, but mostly I want more Quinn. Bring on the tiger lovin."

I really like Quinn and Sookie together too! He seemed so delicious:) I also think his love for Sookie was less over-the-top and "do-or-die" than Vampire Bill and Eric and some of her other suitors.
Although I do like Eric more and more. . .what's a girl to do?


message 13: by Saabrina (new)

Saabrina Sookie was right to sever her ties with Quinn; he was weak and will never put her first. Though Eric loves her, his responsibilities to the vampire community mean that Sookie will not be first with him either. She has already met the man who will treat her as she deserves and that is Sam. Even when he is dating other women , Sam comes to her aid, cares for her. They have always been friends. Any right thinking woman has reservations about being with the boss but I think that Sookie will ultimately be with Sam.


message 14: by Kate (new)

Kate As much as I hate to admit it, I think I agree with Saabrina on this. Mostly because I feel as though Sookie will probably want to have children at some point in the future, and will probably never be willing to be turned. I had hopes that Sookie and Alcide would be able to start something, because I really liked Alcide, but I feel like Sookie thinks he's too easily manipulated by his Pack now.

That basically leaves us with Sam, who I think has matured along the way. (he did start out as quite a weenie at first, which is why I was against this)

It's sad, because I'm such a Sookie/Bill fangirl :(


message 15: by Chris (new)

Chris In defense of Eric . . . I love the Eric/Sookie relationship. It is the main reason I read the novels. It is the classic obsessive, unbalanced romance that you do not want in real life but can't get enough of in literature and fiction. All Sookie's other lovers are boring compared to Eric.


message 16: by Paula (new)

Paula Ratcliffe good interview I like the sookie character due to her telepathy it makes it very different then "normal" supernatural books, you get to hear what the other people are thinking around her when she tunes into them. Plus it shows that she has things of her own to overcome.


message 17: by Susan (new)

Susan I like the Sookie/Eric pairing. He's definitely softened up by book 9.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

What if Sookie was meant to be w/ one of her kind?! A Fairy? Hmmmmmmm


message 19: by Debora (new)

Debora Vaisman Just as fascinating is interesting, do not even want to break away from reading. Very good interview, interesting post, thank you, I wish you health.


message 20: by Bookobsessed (new)

Bookobsessed i love eric and sookie together! if they break up, i think that would destroy eric (sookie is pretty much one of the only-if not the only- woman he has ever fallen in love with since he was turned). plus, they're good for each other. sookie doesn't take eric's crap and eric is there for sookie when she needs him. they fit better than any other guy in the series, including sam, who i really can't see becoming anymore than a friend. heck, sookie doesn't even feel attraction towards sam!


message 21: by Cheri (new)

Cheri I love Sam, I've loved Sam since the beginning! In this book they are getting closer- they went out for a casual dinner, which I do not remember them doing before, and he is not taking Sookie home for the wedding- not his girlfriend! That says something. AND he's loved her for years! She can't marry Eric, ultimately she will get older, and she does not want to be a vampire, it just won't work! Sam is solid.


message 22: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Don't worry to much what is going to happen in the next books or this one, all we can hope for is that Sookie ends with the one she loves the most and can not live without. That even if she has to become a vampire or not, she will be happy in the end is all I ask for.


message 23: by Bookobsessed (new)

Bookobsessed i agree with katherine. as long as sookie doesn't settle, but follows her heart, ill be happy with however the story ends. i dont want it to end after only 3 more books!


message 24: by Stacey (new)

Stacey Carol wrote: "Just so happy to read that one of my favorite authors and myself are both fans of Jane Austen. Wonder if she's read "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies"."

Carol, she has! Charlaine writes a blog on her site and talks about books she reads. P&P&Z was one she discussed last year:
http://www.charlaineharris.com/bb/bb1...


message 25: by Jill (new)

Jill Bartos I just love that everyone is so into Sookie's love life -- I can't get enough of the romance angle either. Book 4 where Eric lived with her for awhile is still my fave. One aspect I like better about the HBO version is that Bill is much more romantic and loving, but then I'm wondering how Book 4 will play on HBO if Sookie and Bill haven't broken up -- OMG, what a dilemma! :)


message 26: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Jill wrote: "I just love that everyone is so into Sookie's love life -- I can't get enough of the romance angle either. Book 4 where Eric lived with her for awhile is still my fave. One aspect I like better a..."

They break up in Book 3 so that will mean it will happen this third season of trueblood


message 27: by Jill (new)

Jill Bartos Maybe, but who knows what the TV version will be like. Bill was kidnapped on Trublood as opposed to going away on his own in Book 3. He never asked her to marry him in book 2 like he did on season 2. It's fun not knowing how HBO may change the story.


message 28: by Kate (new)

Kate I think it's awesome not knowing and seeing how they've adapted the series. In my mind, they're two completely different stories now that are only vaguely related.


message 29: by Terez (new)

Terez I was very sad when Claudine was killed. I think it's very honest for Ms. Harris to admit that authors sometimes make decisions about plots or characters which they regret later. I've come to enjoy the Sookie Stackhouse series very much.


message 30: by Karen (new)

Karen I can't help it - I am a huge Eric fan. I have had this feeling since I started the series that ultimately she is going to end up with Sam though. I don't think she wants to be a vampire so I think that will end her relationship with Eric.


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

Susan wrote: "I like the Sookie/Eric pairing. He's definitely softened up by book 9."

I prefer Bill, please bring back Bill!!!!


message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

Karen wrote: "I can't help it - I am a huge Eric fan. I have had this feeling since I started the series that ultimately she is going to end up with Sam though. I don't think she wants to be a vampire so I think..."


I would prefer Sam over Eric! But at any rate can't wait for the next book.


message 33: by Kristi (new)

Kristi I watched the series first, then started reading the books. Both series and books are creative and fun, and I like that there are differences between them. Ultimately I think Sookie will see Sam finally for what he is - the shapeshifter side will keep things exciting, and he is a good, solid man for her. She can have the best of both worlds. However, that being said, if I was Sookie I would stay with Eric and probably be turned. :)


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

I started with the books first buying Living Dead in Dallas at the grocery store. Then I was hooked and had to read them all. Finally I went to Blockbuster and rented True Blood but have been over all disappointed as IMO Hollywood messed up too many things as usual. Bill is a real Southern gentleman in most ways and so appeals to me lots. Eric is just too wild and crazy altho he can't help it being a Viking. I also do not like his long blond hair.

I agree with you Sam is denfitely a possibility. I am sure wondering what Charlaine will decide. I hope we aren't left hanging on this as will wonder for years.


message 35: by Nerwen (new)

Nerwen Donna wrote: "Heresy alert. I hope she & Eric can't be together. Ultimately it would mean Sookie becoming a vampire, but mostly I want more Quinn. Bring on the tiger lovin."

I hope she really regreats sending quinn away...


message 36: by Lucy (new)

Lucy Felthouse I like the Sookie/Eric relationship too. I never liked Bill much, to be honest. Eric's much more fun. But then Sam has always been there... will he get the girl in the end?


message 37: by Megster (new)

Megster When I worked at a bookstore I had some customers who had been to one of her signings. They were disappointed by the experience and felt she was less than kind... Much less than kind... And not grateful to fans at all. this kinda puts me off of her stuff... Sorry to be a downer, but felt it should be said. I'm sure the books are good regardless


message 38: by Bookobsessed (last edited Dec 02, 2011 11:11AM) (new)

Bookobsessed It seems ridiculous that Sookie would end up with Sam. 13 books and all of a sudden in book 12 Sookie will first of all break off her relationship with Eric then fall miraculously in love with Sam in book 13?! (Harris said she won't write more than 13 books already). It's just insane.Mind you, Sookie had never even felt physical attraction to Sam. She doesn't see him in a romantic way at all, even if he wants her. Plus, if Sam really wanted Sookie then he should have pursued her but he never even tried to, just complained when she would have a relationship with someone else and tell her how she deserves someone better...okay, Sam. Sookie needs an alpha male who won't take her crap, cuz if u look at the writing, i mean really look at Sookie's actions, words, & internal dialogue, she's not Miss Wonderful anyway-she's kind of mean and inconsiderate.

If Sookie ends up with anyone but Eric (even if they break up on the first page of Deadlocked, book 12), it would seem rushed or really stupid since Sookie doesn't love anyone else and has known Eric since book 1. Eleven books of history between them is a lot to throw away then fall in love with someone else by the last book enough to live HEA. Either Sookie would end up with Eric-which I'm crossing my fingers for since they're perfect 2gether in like everyway, or Sookie won't end up with anyone. Or she'll die or something tragic like that. Nothing else makes sense when you keep in mind that Harris is fed up with the series and is only going to write one more book plus the series finale book. Hope Eric & Sookie end up together somehow!

P.S., Sookie won't be a vampire cuz Harris said it won't happen in an interview...unless she lied to throw us off her trail :) My secretest hope is that Eric will be turned human somehow, unable to turn back into vampire, then they'd live HEA and have kids & everything. Pam can take over Fangtasia, Bill can move on & Sam can stay with that crazy shifter chick. The End!! I'd love that!!!!


message 39: by Rita (new)

Rita I had a hard time, really getting into these books, but when I did? Waw, every emotion a person can have, Charlein, will bring it out of you.Her books,are differant from Twilight,&VPDiaries. They have so much tence presure,on the reader, to read faster.


message 40: by Rita (new)

Rita Rita wrote: "I had a hard time, really getting into these books, but when I did? Waw, every emotion a person can have, Charlein, will bring it out of you.Her books,are differant from Twilight,&VPDiaries. They h..."

Megster wrote: "When I worked at a bookstore I had some customers who had been to one of her signings. They were disappointed by the experience and felt she was less than kind... Much less than kind... And not gra..."

I've never been to a book signing, so wouldn't know.


message 41: by Casey (new)

Casey  Megster wrote: "When I worked at a bookstore I had some customers who had been to one of her signings. They were disappointed by the experience and felt she was less than kind... Much less than kind... And not gra..."

I don't know about that but I do know that on her website, you can go to the message boards and she visits daily and leaves comments. I read the first 9 Sookie books without knowing anything about Charlaine Harris. I guess her involvement with her fans on the message board made me think highly of her. Either way, the books are truly amazing. Don't write them off!


message 42: by Casey (new)

Casey  Adrianne wrote: "It seems ridiculous that Sookie would end up with Sam. 13 books and all of a sudden in book 12 Sookie will first of all break off her relationship with Eric then fall miraculously in love with Sam ..."

I have been a die-hard Viking Vampire God fan since day one but I have to admit that Ms. Harris has set up the final book for many different endings. Anything goes. I know we will see Quinn in book 13 but could do without the tiger. I have been a little disappointed in Eric for the past couple of books. I know that it is not logical for him to say "Screw everything, I love Sookie" but I still wish it would have happened. What I did not expect was for Bill to creep back into my heart after being banished from my thought for so long. He has redeemed himself in my eyes but I think that ship has sailed. As for Sam, I disagree that Sookie has never been attracted to him. How can you forget the steamy kiss Bill walked in on in Sam's office. I just think that Sam has never been convenient, which leads me to believe that it's not that important. I agree that, if at all possible...Sookie and Eric should conquer all. I think the only way that can happen is for Eric to step up and take control. I just can't wait to read the final book. Bitter-sweet.


message 43: by Rita (new)

Rita What is the name of book 9? Thats how many books I have,but the nineth says it is an explaratary book. Wish I had spell ck. right now.


message 44: by Rita (new)

Rita I haven't either. Maybe she didn't feel well that day. Who knows?


message 45: by Casey (new)

Casey  Rita wrote: "What is the name of book 9? Thats how many books I have,but the nineth says it is an explaratary book. Wish I had spell ck. right now."

I think book 9 is Dead and Gone.


message 46: by Rita (new)

Rita Ok. How many books are in this series? I was told at the book store that book 9 was the newest in the series.


message 47: by Casey (new)

Casey  There are currently 12 Sookie books and the 13th and final book comes out next year. Book 12 is called Deadlocked.


message 48: by Rita (new)

Rita Ok. I'm reading, All together Dead. I bought the 8 book set. There is 1 left when I finish this 1. The next is, Dead Reckoning, & Dead In The Family. So what comes after these?


message 49: by Rita (new)

Rita Have any of you, read the Vampire Diaries, by LJ Smith? Book 17, comes out on Oct. 23, so waiting on that 1. If You haven't read them, there a good read,If you like the characters way out there on other worlds. Now, they have a goast wrighter, so the books will be closer to the TV series. So LJ isent wrighting them any more. I saw the difference in the last 1 I read.


message 50: by Casey (new)

Casey  9. Dead and Gone
10. Dead in the Family
11. Dead Reckoning
12. Deadlocked


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