It seems like the name of this particular game is "ask and you shall receive". After sending emails out to what felt like hundreds of authors, I was absolutely stunned when I received a reply from one of my favourites - Charlaine Harris. Author of the Southern Vampire Mysteries - also known as The Sookie Stackhouse Novels - Harris is a New York Times bestselling author, who has been writing for over thirty years. She was born and raised in the Mississippi River Delta area, and her first novel, Sweet and Deadly, was published in 1981.
I've read all of her novels, which include the Lily Bard and Aurora Teagarden series, as well as The Harper Connelly Mysteries, the first of which was published in 2005. Harris has the ability to draw you deep into a story, creating wonderful characters, a beautiful setting, and an action-packed storyline. At times, I could really visualise Bon Temps, the fictional Louisiana town in which The Sookie Stackhouse Novels are set, and its exotic inhabitants. The series follows Sookie Stackhouse, a young waitress and telepath, who is becoming tired of being plagued by the thoughts of others. But when Bill the vampire and his silent mind walks in, everything changes. Narrated by Sookie across thirteen books, we are taken into a dark world full of vampires, shapeshifters, fairies, and all kinds of weird and wonderful creatures.
The Sookie Stackhouse Novels are fantastic, full of drama, darkness and debauchery. They're also arguably the most popular of her novels, as they inspired the HBO drama True Blood, which is now in its final season.
Fascinated by her capacity to craft such beautiful novels, I wanted to know more about her writing process, so I bit the bullet and sent her an email. Orchestrated by her friend Paula, I received a reply from Charlaine within just a few days.
Harris always wanted to be a writer: "From the time I could read, and I understood real people wrote the books I read, I thought being a writer must be the most awesome thing on earth". Just like many other things, writing is "all a learning curve", and Harris gets her inspiration from everywhere. "From conversation, newspaper articles, and “what if” moments after reading some other writer. As in “the idea of women as combat soldiers is exciting, but what if they weren’t in Iraq but were on an alien planet? So they’d be tall, and green!” After a few “what if” questions, you have a whole different book, because one change has a cascade effect".
Harris is always working on something. Her most recent novel, Midnight Crossroad, came out in May, and she's already working on the sequel. "I’m also working on the third volume of the “Cemetery Girl” graphic novel". Written with Christopher Golden, and illustrated by Don Kramer, the Cemetery Girl trilogy features Calexa Rose Dunhill, a girl left with no memory of her brutal past, who has made the cemetery her home. The first volume in the series was published in January.
Considering her impressive bibliography, I was particularly interested to hear any tips she might have for aspiring writers. "Put your butt in the chair and write the book", she said. "Don’t stop until you finish. You’ll never sell a book you haven’t written. Read all the information available (and there’s a lot) about the publication process. Information about how publishing works is vital, and there’s no excuse to go in ignorant".
Harris will be doing signing in the UK in late August and early September, before Fantasycon in York.
To book tickets for Fantasycon, visit the website. For more information on Harris' books and appearances, check out https://charlaineharris.com/.