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Charlaine Harris
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Charlaine Harris   Charlaine Harris is the international bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series, which has been translated in over 30 languages, won the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Mystery and has been adapted as a popular TV series on HBO called True Blood. Charlaine has also written the Aurora Teagarden series, Lily Bard series, and the Harper Connelly series. Two of her books have been nominated for the Agatha Award for Best Novel. Charlaine has also been a board member of the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, a member of the American Crime Writers League, and past president of the Arkansas Mystery Writers Alliance.

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This episode originally aired on 11/19/2009 with the following authors:
Note: The following interview has been transcribed from The Author Hour radio show. Please excuse any typos, spelling and gramatical errors.

Interview with Charlaine Harris

 
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Matthew Peterson: Youíre listening to the Author Hour, which can be found at www.TheAuthorHour.com. Iím your host, Matthew Peterson, author of Paraworld Zero. My next guest is Charlaine Harris, international best-selling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series, which won the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Mystery and has been adapted as a TV series on HBO called True Blood. Charlaine has also written the Aurora Teagarden series, Lily Bard series, and the Harper Connelly series. Two of her books have been a nominee for the Agatha Award for Best Novel. Charlaine has also been a board member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, a member of the American Crime Writers League, and past president of the Arkansas Mystery Writers Alliance. Thanks for being on the show today, Charlaine.

Charlaine Harris: Thank you! I love that introduction, I love being called an international bestseller. [laughs] Itís great!

Matthew Peterson: [laughs] Yeah, yeah. Well, thatís got to be an exciting feeling to know that a lot of people throughout the world are reading your books.

Charlaine Harris: Itís very exciting, especially since Iíve spent so many years with people not really reading my books.

Matthew Peterson: Well, you have quite a big following and of course, Sookie Stackhouse novels, those are the big ones right now that youíre writing. And you have another series as well, but letís start out with the Sookie Stackhouse novels.

Charlaine Harris: Okay.

Matthew Peterson: For those listeners who havenít read them yet, can you tell us just a little bit about these Southern vampire mysteries.

Charlaine Harris: Well, theyíre books about a young woman in Northern Louisiana who is dating a vampire. Sheís a telepathic barmaid.

Matthew Peterson: And these vampires, theyíre not like in the closet. I mean, people know them. Theyíre just out and about in this world, arenít they?

Charlaine Harris: Yes, theyíre citizens of the United States, in a way, though theyíre second class citizens. They donít have all the rights and privileges of human citizens, which is a big point of the book. But they have announced the fact that they are actually real because the Japanese have developed a synthetic blood that they can use for nutrition, instead of human blood.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, which is always nicer. [laughs] And these are mysteries, though. Of course, thereís a lot of supernatural in there, but these are mysteries. Sookie, she has a special power, like you mentioned. Sheís telepathic.

Charlaine Harris: Yes. Sheís telepathic. Really the worst thing I could think of to do to anybody is to make them telepathic. But there is usually a central mystery at the core of most of the Sookie books, yes.

Matthew Peterson: Iím interested in that. Why would you say that would be one of the worst things: to give someone telepathic powers?

Charlaine Harris: Oh my gosh! People sensor themselves all the time about what they say and I think it would just be absolutely horrible to know what people really thought about you.

Matthew Peterson: Ah. Yeah. I can imagine that. I guess you would become numb. You just realize that everybody sensors what theyíre saying.

Charlaine Harris: Well, when you think about all the little unkind things you think of everyday. You know, like, ďOh gosh, her butt looks so big in those pants.Ē Or you know, ďThis driver ahead of me is a total idiot.Ē Or ďGosh if this woman doesnít stop talking, I think Iím just going to scream and walk away.Ē You know, all those little thoughts, if we could all hear those, this would be a terrible world.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. Now her powers, theyíre not just like a radio, though, right? She doesnít just hear everything around her all at the same time, though, right?

Charlaine Harris: She can, itís only by lots of work that she keeps that from happening.

Matthew Peterson: Mm hmm. Yeah, I can imagine that driving you crazy.

Charlaine Harris: Yes, it would drive me crazy.

Matthew Peterson: Well, your last Sookie book came out a little earlier this year and it was called Dead and Gone. What was the main premise of that book?

Charlaine Harris: The main premise of Dead and Gone, the main conflict in there was the war between the two factions of faery.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, okay. So, you have two books of stories also that just came out: A Touch of Dead and Must Love Hellhounds. Now I know A Touch of Dead, of course, is filled with Sookie Stackhouse stories.

Charlaine Harris: If it has ďdeadĒ in the title itís Sookie.

Matthew Peterson: Yep, yep. And those stories, theyíre not really a bridge to the next book, are they? They kind of span the entire series, right?

Charlaine Harris: They do, itís just a compilation of all the Sookie short stories that Iíve written that have appeared in other anthologies.

Matthew Peterson: Okay. And the Hellhounds book, that one has some other authors in it. Is it a Sookie Stackhouse story that you put in there, or is that a different . . . ?

Charlaine Harris: No. Itís a story about the two body guards from another dimension that were introduced in All Together Dead, the Britlingens, Clovache and Batanya. Itís a Clovache and Batanya novella and itís really different from the Sookie books, but it was actually a lot of fun to write.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, wow. Yeah. When I first met you a couple years ago, you were really excited that HBO was adapting your books for TV. And you told me that your series really needed to be on something like HBO, you know, because of the content. But now that two seasons have gone by, with a third one on the horizon, what are your impressions of True Blood?

Charlaine Harris: Oh, I would have to be a fool not to be totally delighted with the show. Alan is such a genius and I love the fact that I can be surprised by whatís happening, as much as anybody else. The actors are so great. The cast and crew are just so dedicated to producing an excellent and fun product. Itís just been the Cadillac of translation experiences.

Matthew Peterson: And of course, they have their freedom to be able to adapt it how they want. Are there any changes that you would like to see maybe in the third season?

Charlaine Harris: The third season, I think, will probably adhere loosely to the third book. So far theyíve been doing a book a season. And I think thatíll probably continue. That having been said, the series has taken several by ways, that I didnít, which, I knew it would have to. And so it may go off in a completely different direction. I donít know whatís going to happen.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. Well, I understand that your tenth Sookie Stackhouse novel is scheduled to come out like in May 2010.

Charlaine Harris: In May, yeah, if itís May itís Sookie.

Matthew Peterson: Itís Sookie, yeah. Is there anything you can tell us about that one?

Charlaine Harris: I can tell you that it answers a lot of questions. And I can tell you that itís about family.

Matthew Peterson: Family, okay. Well, it is a southern mystery. You know, I used to live in the south, just for a little bit. And I know itís a very family orientated area. Well, how many more novels do you expect to write in this series?

Charlaine Harris: Well, Iím signing a contract for three more. So, thereíll be at least three more, I know. Then weíll have to see. I donít like to keep series going after theyíve lost their spark. I think thatís a disservice to the characters and to the readers. So, I think, possibly, the three books after the tenth book will be the last books in the series. So weíll see how I feel after Iíve written two of those.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. You mentioned you donít like to add more to a series that have lost their spark, too. I mean, you do have a couple other series like Lily Bard or Aurora Teagarden series that you havenít written in a while. Do you plan on adding another book to those, or do you feel like theyíre finished?

Charlaine Harris: No. Theyíre finished essentially. I might someday write another Aurora, but I donít think Iíll ever write another Lily Bard. I just feel like Iíve said everything I want to say.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. Yeah. But you do have a new series and a new book actually: Harper Connelly series. So these books are about a young woman named Harper Connelly who gets struck by lightning and gains the power to locate dead bodies through clairvoyance.

Charlaine Harris: Right.

Matthew Peterson: So you have another character that has a special power and of course that power helps her throughout the books.

Charlaine Harris: Right. Theyíre definitely more mystery based than the Sookie books. And Harperís ability is very limited. Thereís nothing else supernatural about the books. Theyíre just classic detective stories, or at least I hope they are, with a little twist. But thatís how she makes her living is by finding bodies.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. Well, that is kind of a big twist, I think. [laughs]

Charlaine Harris: It is quite a bit.

Matthew Peterson: Yep. Well, if youíre thinking of the real world

Matthew Peterson: Well, the new book, Grave Secret. Tell us a little bit about this book, what can we expect from it?

Charlaine Harris: Well, every book is set in a different place and Harper and her alleged brother Tolliver, whoís not really her brother at all, in this book travel to Texas because harper wants to visit their step-sisterís two little girls whoíve been adopted by her aunt after the disillusion of her own parents, so in the process, they collect a job on the way. Stop off at a ranch to do a grave reading and then the rest of the book carries the duel scenes of what happened in Harperís family and what is happening in this other family.

Matthew Peterson: So your main character, Harper, thatís one of the things that she does make money from, going to graves, letting the family know the things that the person would say, or how they died? How exactly does this power . . . ?

Charlaine Harris: She doesnít talk directly to the deceased, but she sees how the person died.

Matthew Peterson: See how they died, okay. So, that would kind of help to bring some closure, perhaps, to some of the families.

Charlaine Harris: Yeah.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, Ďcause I know thereís a lot of unexplained stuff out there. Are there other people in this series that have like some powers or is she like the only one?

Charlaine Harris: Thereís a psychic named Xylda Bernardo and her grandson Manfred who show up. Xyldaís really an old fraud, but every now and then she has a true vision.

Matthew Peterson: Okay. Well, what are you working on right now?

Charlaine Harris: Iím working on the changes for Sookie 10 and after that I will do a Sookie novella for the Sookie Companion which will be out next year. And then I have to write a short story for an anthology and after that I have a choice of two different things to do. So thatís as far as Iíve gotten.

Matthew Peterson: You know, all your books have a lot of mystery and thereís some detective work, have you ever considered writing, like for another genre? Maybe getting a pen name and writing a something else?

Charlaine Harris: Well, my first two series were mysteries. The Lily Bard and Aurora Teagarden books were conventional mysteries.

Matthew Peterson: Conventional, okay. My wifeís a big mystery reader. And I do enjoy mysteries, but I like to have something else, you know, like some supernatural thing, Ďcause I think thatís fun.

Charlaine Harris: Uh, huh.

Matthew Peterson: Do you ever watch, thereís a TV show called Castle [laughs].

Charlaine Harris: Oh yeah. Castle is fun, isnít it?

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. Itís kind of a crime solving mystery, with a twist of an author being one of the people. I hear you really enjoy movies and TV and things like that, so I thought maybe you had started watching that show.

Charlaine Harris: I like Bones too. Bones is fun and the main character, the forensic pathologist, sheís also a mystery writer.

Matthew Peterson: Do you ever watch, is it Medium? Iíve only seen one episode.

Charlaine Harris: No, Iíve never watch that, oddly enough.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. I donít know how closely it would relate to the power that Harper Connelly has, but I think she like has a dream of . . .

Charlaine Harris: Yeah, I think hers come to her in dreams, but like I say, I havenít really watched it, more than twice maybe.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, I was surprised that series has continued so long, for several seasons. Yeah, Ďcause she has a dream of how the person might have died, so I thought it was interesting.

Well, I really appreciate talking with you Charlaine. Iíve been speaking with Charlaine Harris, international bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series and also the Harper Connelly series with the latest book, Grave Secret, now out. Thank you so much for being on the show, Charlaine. I hope to talk to you again in the future.

Charlaine Harris: Well, thank you for inviting me. Iíve enjoyed it so much. Alright, go to www.TheAuthorHour.com to listen to the bonus questions. Coming up Iíve got Laurell K. Hamilton and then L.J. Smith. Donít go away.



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