On Nov. 1, the Houston Chronicle Book & Author Dinner will be held and attending will be Charlaine Harris, the author of the books in which True Blood is based as well as five other authors: Oscar Casares, Lee Child, David Cross and Julie Powell.
This year’s guest authors have distinguished themselves in mystery, comedy, memoir and good old-fashioned storytelling.
Some of their stories begin on the Texas-Mexico border, some in the blogosphere. One of their heroes has ice blue eyes and no permanent address, another has friends with fangs in her Louisiana hometown. And in one case, a sense of humor honed on stage and TV has found its way into a collection of essays.
Here’s what they say about Charlaine Harris:
Once upon a time, author Charlaine Harris had an idea for a book that would mix all the types of stories she loved. It would be part mystery, part science fiction, part romance. “I had come to a crossroads in my career, and I decided to write a book that would combine everything,” Harris, 57, says. “I decided not to stick to the rules.” She broke the rules with Dead Until Dark, the title that introduced Sookie Stackhouse and the small but unforgettable town of Bon Temps, La., to the world. Today, there are nine Sookie books. And HBO has made True Blood, the series based on the books, one of the most talked-about TV shows of the moment. Harris admits to sharing certain traits with Sookie. “Well,” says the author after a pause and a sigh, “we’re both loyal, but she’s a lot braver than I am. She’s pretty much like I wish I was. She’s polite but direct. I like to think that’s me, too.” The HBO series has been a financial boon to Harris, mainly because it spurred book sales. The first two seasons of the show were based on the first two Sookie Stackhouse books. “The third season will be the third book,” Harris adds, “but the show may go off on its own at any point.” Harris says it’s been strange and wonderful to visit the set of True Blood, to walk around in a place that first took shape in her mind. “One day,” she recalls, “I had lunch in Merlotte’s in one of the booths. With Alan.” That would be Alan Ball, director of True Blood, creator of HBO’s Six Feet Under, screenwriter of the film American Beauty. Harris also feels a sense — a pleasant sense — of obligation to the people who are busy bringing her stories to life, particularly Anna Paquin, who plays Sookie, and Stephen Moyer, who plays Bill. “It’s strange,” says Harris. “Especially now that Anna and Stephen are getting married (in real life). I feel responsible.”