Charlaine Harris speaks with The Shrevesport Times’ Derick Jones about the end of the Sookie Stackhouse series, which inspired True Blood.
Question:What drove you to start the Sookie Stackhouse series?
Answer: Well, my career had kind of reached a stopping point. It wasn’t really going anywhere but I was still being published, which as you know is all a writer requires. I thought if I’m ever going to do something different that will bring me out, now is the time. It came to me that I really wanted to break out of writing conventional mysteries and write something with an element of the supernatural. It seemed to me like it would be fun to write about a woman who was trying to date a vampire.
Q:Why make the setting Louisiana?
A: Anne Rice had taken the southern part of Louisiana and done such marvelous things with it. Since I intended for my books to be funny I thought I would take the less atmospheric northern part of Louisiana and do the same thing for northern Louisiana.
Q: Do you find yourself in any of the character that you’ve created?
A: I find a little sliver in myself in all my characters, I think, which is kind of a scary thing about me I guess. It’s just fun to coax a little humanity out of the most off-putting characters and to find the parts that aren’t so agreeable in the nicest characters.
Q: What do you think about HBO’s interpretation?
A: I entrusted my books to Alan Ball, and I knew it would not stick with the letter of the books because that would not be entertaining for him. I knew he would go his own way sooner rather than later, and of course he did. I constantly am amazed by his inventiveness.
Q: Were you a part of the creative process?
A: No, because that’s not my area of expertise. It’s a very rare deal that gives the writer that kind of power, and I certainly did not have that in my bargaining for HBO. It would be very unusual for a writer to have that kind of power.
Q: You’ve just wrapped up the series with “Dead After Dark” and gotten a lot of up and down feedback from that. I’ve seen a lot of anger displayed. Has that subsided now since it’s been over a month?
A:A lot of the hating has. There are some people who evidently have no life what so ever, that are evidently going to pursue this until they drop dead of old age, and I don’t know what to think about that. Are their lives so empty that they cannot get over a book series ending in a way they had not anticipated? The accusations have been really vile and disgusting. I can only think that these people would not say that to my face or hope that they wouldn’t because I just think the Internet is responsible for a lot of this overly invested entitled attitude.
One reader said “You should turn over characters to someone who can write them they way we want them.” I said “You know, you don’t get it. It’s not like going into a bakery and ordering a cake where you say ‘I want butter cream filling and chocolate icing and I want a decoration of pink roses.’ Writing a book is not like that. You don’t get to vote on how I write my books. They’re mine,” and they would have never have met any of those people if they hadn’t come out of my head. They say “You sold out” and I say “To whom?” To whom did I sell out?
After some painful painful days and thinking I might not ever come out of my house again, I’m kind of coming out of the other side of that. I’ve gotten an overwhelming expression of support and pleasure in the book from many more people than ever told me they hated it, and it’s in its fourth week on the New York Times best-seller list.
Q: Had you ever dealt with anything like that before?
A: Yes, on a smaller scale, but I had and I could tell the past two books especially when I said the thirteenth book will be the last one. I could tell which way the wind was blowing. I did everything but put a neon sign saying “This will not end the way you think it will” and I just felt like I made it very obvious and clear, more so than I wanted to. Nothing was going to stop this from happening.
To read the rest of this interview with Ms. Harris, go to: shreveporttimes.com