Jul 21, 2011

Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris made headlines last week with the news that book thirteen is it. Sookie and the rest of her cast of characters from The Southern Vampire Series are wrapping up their story lines. The news spread like wild fire throughout both the internet and print press. It was mainly met with sadness. I’m excited. I cannot wait to see what one of my favorite writers has rattling around in that magnificent mind and what group of characters she’s going to introduce us to next. I’m also intrigued. What is her end game? Who will Sookie choose? Or will she just Walk away?

A strange thing happens when a favorite book series hits the TV. It’s even a little stranger when Alan Ball is backing the production. The two and a half seasons of the TV show True Blood have been glorious. Ball has certainly hit upon a lot of the themes Charlaine drives home in the books. If you read this series first as opposed to watching you’re dealing with an altered time-line. It’s all well and good, but different. Looking at sales numbers for the novels, I have to believe that most of the viewers have caught up to the readers. I cannot help but think they’re nodding their heads and thinking to themselves, “I know why she’s special, it’s in her blood.”Those of us who read the books all remember the betrayal and the joy, washing over us all at once. Whether you read first or watched first there is something very special here. A traditional setting, a small town girl with a great heart who believes, sincerely, that all are created equal and have the right to live a happy life. A young woman goes above and beyond to make her world a better place. Sookie makes mistakes, but not many. The most memorable scene from the books is yet to hit your T.V. In this scene Charlaine Harris manages to encompass Sookie’s humanity, heroism and horror with such compassion for where we are as a world today it will break your heart. I hope Ball captures that scene.

Charlaine Harris has afforded me many memorable scenes over the years. I started with Aurora Teagarden. Charlaine’s small town librarian who ends up married to a man of the world. I’m not even sure how I got there. Was it a blurb on the back? Was it a recommendation from a friend? I don’t remember but I do remember I immediately read a Lily Bard. Shakespeare’s Landing came to me at a time in my life where I’d lost control of my own environment. Here was a young woman who’d lived through something much worse than anything I’d ever been through, and was reclaiming her life. Lily did this in the gentle confines of a traditional mystery flooded with contemporary pathos. Even while I was absorbed in the mystery, I was taking strength from this fictional heroine.

Meanwhile Aurora had a list of titles for me. Classic mysteries that I’d never heard of. Reading I began to tackle. I often wonder if I ever would have read Tey or Allingham if not for Harris and Teagarden. I often think I owe Charlaine a lot of effusive thank-yous for this alone. And then she made me laugh. LOL in a way I’d not done in two years. DEAD OVER HEELS was the book. The opening scene has perhaps the most unique body discovery of all time. It’s so entirely ridiculous I couldn’t help myself. I learned a lesson about my reading habits that day. I am a reader who escapes into a book. I’ll never be able to truly deconstruct any novel no matter how many times I read it. That’s okay, I can live with that. It means I’ll always have something I want to read.

Over the years I’ve gotten to know this wonderful belle with a beautiful brain. Charlaine is the southern woman with a story of her own. I’ve seen her give back to fellow scribes. I’ve seen her giggle with fans over any number of things. She’s given me a recipe for Sweet Tea. I’ve been able to share her work with a number of people who don’t read much and discuss how very good and subtle this work is with folks who read a lot.

How I’ve enjoyed her ascent from low mid-list to the upper echelons of sales. 1,000,000 downloads anyone?
How about every book being in print? I remember a night almost three years ago. I was on the phone passing along information to a friend. “Ruth, have you seen the bestseller list?” “No I’m really swamped with Bouchercon but I know you hit # 1.” “No, look at the list, you have to see it.” Through sheer happenstance a fan got to share a moment with one of her favorite authors. A moment that doesn’t come very often. We giggled. A lot.

So I’ll miss Sookie. Sure I will. But baby I cannot wait to see what Charlaine Harris has up her sleeve for us next. I know it will be special.

1 comment:

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