When her boyfriend Bill, a vampire who has been rather distracted of late, disappears, Sookie Stackhouse journeys to Jackson, Mississippi, to find her beloved, who has gotten himself caught in a dangerous web of murder and betrayal at Club Dead, an elite underground society.
About the Author
Charlaine Harris is the New York Times bestselling author of the Southern Vampire Mysteries series, also known the Sookie Stackhouse series of books — which served as the source material for the popular HBO series True Blood. Harris is also the author of the Aurora Teagarden, and Lily Bard series as well as the Midnight, Texas series — which has been developed into a TV series for NBC. Born in Mississippi, Harris now calls southern Arkansas home, and has lived in the South her entire life.
Date of Birth:November 25, 1951
Place of Birth:Tunica, Mississippi
Education:B.A. in English and Communication Arts, Rhodes, 1973
What People are Saying About This
"Harris playfully mixes several genres to make a new one that is her own bright creation."
"You don't want to miss a single paragraph of this Southern Vampire series ... A delightful blend of humor, intrigue, mild eroticism, and human (and non-human) nature."
"Charlaine Harris delivers both horror and humor as seen from the unique perspective of rural America."
An Interview with Charlaine Harris
Paul Goat Allen: In a recent B&N.com interview with Laurell K. Hamilton, she theorized that her Anita Blake novels were so popular because of the unique appeal of genre mixing -- a little mystery, a little fantasy, a little horror, a little romance. In the last few years, several similar supernatural genre-hopping novels have appeared on bestselling lists. Why do you think these types of books are so wildly popular?
Charlaine Harris: Maybe these books are so popular because of the juxtaposition of the magical with the mundane. It's the most intriguing "What if?" of all. What if the man you were dating was a vampire? What if your employer was a werewolf? What if you, a human, were somehow on the inside track of this world, which remains largely concealed from most other humans? The supernatural and the paranormal have always had a strong hold on my imagination. Though for many years I only wrote conventional mysteries, I always wanted to incorporate my interest in the "other world" into my work. My fascination with this other world, the world of the imaginary become real, all began when I was quite young, and I wanted the Loch Ness Monster to be real more than anything. (I still do.) I have to point out, though, that I wrote Dead Until Dark (the 2001 lead book in the Southern Vampire series) more than three years before it was finally published. It took my agent a very long time to place the book. If Laurell's books hadn't proved to be so popular, I don't think the genre-straddling Southern Vampire books would ever have seen the light of day.
PGA: Another trend in numerous new releases is the normalizing of the supernatural. In your Southern Vampire novels, vampires are accepted members of society with specific products like PureBlood and establishments like Josephine's (a.k.a. Club Dead) marketed at their demographic. From a writer's perspective, what are the advantages -- and disadvantages -- of this normalizing of the supernatural?
CH: From my point of view, there are no disadvantages. If I was writing a more traditional, prince-of-darkness type book, with brooding majestic vampires, having them pick up their blood at the local liquor store would be a real problem. But I'm writing humor (though I admit my books do have their dark and frightening and sexy moments). It's definitely to my advantage to plonk down my creatures of the night in rural modern America. Even a vampire has to buy his clothes somewhere, right? And someone has to come fix his leaky roof. And if he has a roof to leak, then he has to pay property taxes.... You see how one thought leads to another, when you're trying to place vampires in the framework of the workaday world. I have an absolutely great time doing this.
PGA: How much are you like Sookie Stackhouse? Did you ever live in your grandparents' house and/or have a gravel driveway with potholes? (I know that last part of the question sounds crazy, but when I finished Club Dead, the image of that long gravel driveway stuck in my head!)
CH: Sookie's long gravel driveway winds through dense woods on the way to her house, and mine is pretty much in a straight line, but we do have to warn the UPS and FedEx trucks before they attempt it. Hey, we're going to fix it! Really! I think "pothole" is a pretty mild term for what's in our driveway..."crater" would probably be more accurate. I never lived with my grandparents, who are all gone now. My parents are still very much alive, and I lived with them in a very conventional family way until I went to college. As to how in other ways I might be like Sookie -- hmmm. Well, when I was growing up, I always felt like an outsider, as Sookie does. Her isolation is like that teen "I'm the only person in the world who feels like this" angst, carried to the nth degree. Sookie has to make connections with the varied beings she encounters, because relationships with regular human beings are very difficult for her. I am not as brave as Sookie, I suppose, and I had the advantage of more education. But it seems to me that Sookie is very conventional in what she wants: a stable relationship, friendships to rely on, financial security, and a congenial job. Unfortunately, a lot of this is very difficult for her to achieve -- but she keeps trying. That's something I really like about her.
PGA: Have you started working on the fourth Southern Vampire book yet? Is there a tentative title and/or release date? Any tidbits of plot information that you'd like to tease the fans with?
CH: Yes, I'm happily at work on the fourth Southern Vampire book. The title is Dead to the World. I'm pretty sure we'll stick with that, though a change is always possible. Dead to the World will be out in April 2004; God willing and the creek don't rise. The book will pick up maybe a couple of weeks after the ending of Club Dead, with Sookie making a New Year's resolution that is somewhat unusual. Then she has to babysit Eric, who has amnesia...and of course, the situation gets very complicated very quickly, as events always pile up on each other in Sookie's world.