I attended a Charlaine Harris (True Blood/Sookie Stachouse creator) event last Tuesday night at Salem Collage in Winston-Salem, NC.
Tickets were $22 to attend, but I opted for the “special” $85 ticket that allowed me to go to a reception with drinks and food beforehand, a copy of Deadlocked (picture below), a chance to meet her and get things signed/take pictures, as well as special seating during the program and $35 of my the ticket price went to a charity. Over all it was worth the extra cost. There were around 400 people over at the auditorium and while she promised to stay until everyone who wanted to say hello or get a book signed could, that was a long line and you were only able to get two things signed and you weren’t allowed to step around her table and get a pic right next to her. (continues after picture)
I was so glad they had drinks and food (menu below) at the reception, because that 15 minute drive from my house to the collage was exhausting! I get there and met up with Ana Cade from Hearding Cats & Burning Soup. They handed everyone a gift bag with the book, a bottle of water and some promotional stuff from advertisers. There were about 40 of us there. Here is the menu… (continues after picture)
I was a little disappointed because I thought we would be able to mingle with Charlaine, but she sat behind a small table and we had to get in line to have things signed and take pics. She was very pleasant and polite, but you could tell she was tired.
Then everyone headed over to the auditorium where the conversation with Charlaine would be. I didn’t realize how things were done. There was a moderator on stage with her who got to ask questions he thought the rest of us would like to know…audience members were told to write questions on cards as we came in. I asked some typical Following the Nerd questions.
Sharon (right) with Charlaine
Unfortunately, Mr. Moderator got to pick which questions were asked. He only picked 4 and apparently he had no sense of humor because he didn’t pick one of mine. BUT, there was time left so the audience got to ask some questions. Everyone asked the same old same old till it was my turn…I asked “During a zombie apocalypse, which fictional character would you like at your back?” It was pretty funny; I also told her I would pick Optimus Prime. You wanna know her answer?
Well, first she said Jack Reacher from Lee Child’s novels, then she decided she needed someone good with a gun and picked Steven Hunter’s Sniper.
She went on to indicate her plans after the Sookie Stackhouse novel end. Here’s the highlights:
– She is ending the Sookie series because the creative juices for it aren’t there anymore and she wants to create a new world.
– She called herself and other authors “little dictators” when it comes to wanting to build worlds. She will miss Sookie and the gang, but doesn’t want to keep writing the series just for a paycheck.
– She says the hardest characters to write are those without a sense of humor. She writes a mix of horror and humor because that is what life is like.
– The Sookie books are about female empowerment and tolerance of others. She uses Sookie, who is so accepting, to bridge the Supe worlds and help them overcome prejudices. She also said she would never write a story without a gay character in it because she feels that community isn’t represented as much as it should be in the entertainment industry.
– She is being very careful writing the last book so backstories are tied up nicely
– She talked about True Blood: She watches it, finds it entertaining and loves the hands off relationship she has with the creator. She doesn’t tell him how to write True Blood and he doesn’t tell her how to write the books – Bubba isn’t in the show because they felt he would come across as cheesy and they didn’t want to offend anyone.
– She has been learning all about writing graphic novels this year. There will be a 3 part graphic novel called Cemetery Girl out next year. This is the first time she has ever collaborated with another author.
– The Harper Connelly Series is being made into a TV show by SyFy and will be called GraveSight. (continues after picture)
– The new series (3 book deal with Penguin) she is working on is called Midnight Pawn…as in a pawn shop! There will be an ensemble cast and characters from her other stories will show up in it like Quinn from the Sookie series and Manfred Bernardo from the Harper Connelly series! Now, there are a lot of people that think Sookie will end up with Quinn…but if he is going to show up in the new series…
– She writes every day and last year she took her first vacation in 10 years. She went to Alaska and didn’t write while there.
– When asked if Sookie would get a happy ever after she said she writes the series gray, it isn’t a romance and it isn’t a sad story but we can expect the right ending.
– It doesn’t bother her to kill off characters. Many times during the talk she said she got bored easily, so she creates new characters. In the Sookie series she had too many characters to keep up with and decided to clean house. She is a big panster writer with no outline or plan and that sometimes gets her in trouble. SPOILER ALERT FOR ANYONE READING THE SOOKIE BOOKS She apologized for killing Claudinethough. She would do things differently if she could.
– She no longer reads amazon reviews because they can be so vindictive and mean. She was paralyzed for a month from writing after reading them once.
– She is ready to let Sookie and the gang go and very happy about what is coming up.
So, the end is in sight for Sookie, but like her vampires, there is just no keeping Charlaine Harris down
Sharon is one of our US correspondants and is co-creator of the excellent I Smell Sheep