August 10, 2012

Charlaine Harris author talk

If the settings of her novels didn't clue you in then her Southern drawl and excellent manners would; Charlaine Harris is a true Southern Belle. The South tends to be portrayed as backwards and racist but Charlaine says they are now only five years behind the rest of America (instead of 30) and inclusionism is a theme of her most popular series.

The Sookie Stackhouse books, which have garnered her international fame as well as a television series, were initially rejected by publishers. I can smugly say I knew of her before True Blood thanks to a copy of Shakespeare's Christmas I found in the return section of Wellington Central Library.

The TV show is not how I envisioned the books. The differences bother readers more than the author. She is careful not to criticise the work others do; saying several times that Allan Ball (True Blood's creator) chooses the best actors for the parts. She also declines to sign True Blood graphic novels (comics for those who aren't up with the lingo) because she has no part in making them.

Unlike some writers Charlaine doesn't start with an outline, her writing process consists of sitting at her computer and letting the story take her where it will (I think she would disagree with my wording here, in answer to a question whether her characters surprise her she replied that it was the ideas in her head the surprise her because that's where they come from). Her husband, who would love if she described him as 'studly', has been a great support. She wrote full time before it was profitable and now she has returned the favour; with a wife as a successful author he is able to retire early. On her 34th Wedding Anniversary, it was good of her to be with us rather than celebrating with her husband, though no one asked, she might have brought him with her. Her next novel is something new and will involve several of her previous characters at a cross roads in Texas, I assume the cross roads will be metaphorical as well as physical.

The function was held at the Amora Hotel, which try as I might I still think of as The Duxton, in one of their ballrooms. There is a stage with a podium that Charliane didn't use, a distractingly shiny ceiling and a bar where you could exchange your ticket for a drink. The back of the room had a Whitcoulls table with copies of Charlaine's books you can purchase for her to sign if you dared the enormous queue.

The Dominion Post also did a live chat online with her. My one complaint is that I wish it were better advertised, I only saw it because I subscribe to Livewire the Dominion Post's email newsletter, I didn't see advertising anywhere else. It's not often we get international authors here, although Jodi Picoult was in the country recently she only visited Auckland. Thank you to the Dom Post for bringing Charlaine here, I'm glad she tried again after cancelling last year.

Look out for the last book in the Sookie Stackhouse series Dead Ever After in May next year.

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