Engaging, witty and unassuming are just three words that describe Charlaine Harris. Harris hails from Magnolia and is the best-selling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series. The books have been translated in more than 30 languages and are the basis for HBO’s wildly popular television series, “True Blood.” The Stackhouse books also netted Harris an Anthony Award for Best Paperback Mystery. In spite of her achievements, Harris is completely genuine and down-to-earth. Being a bestselling author doesn’t seem to have gone to her head even the slightest bit.
I met Harris in Eureka Springs at a luncheon and book signing, and from the hefty turnout in spite of a hefty $50 ticket price, it was obvious how popular she is. One of the many fans in attendance was Angela Robert of Eureka Springs. Robert is a self-described “huge fan” of Harris and said the Sookie Stackhouse books were her favorite series.
“I work with numbers all day long, so there’s not a better series to lose myself in when I get home,” Robert said.
I’m not sure what I expected a writer of vampire fiction to look like, but the woman introduced as Charlaine Harris most certainly surprised me. She appeared wholesome and approachable.
I found myself imagining her as a British vicar’s wife, running a tearoom and baking blackberry scones for little old ladies with lavender hair. Her true identity is much more interesting — an author who pens sex scenes between vampires and fae folk (head banging on the headboard sex, at that). To give credit to my imagination, Harris did declare she was a good cook, and did so without any pretense of false modesty, so I’m sure she wouldn’t have any trouble running a tearoom. She looks exactly like a good cook should look.
Harris is quick-witted, and during the question-and-answer session of the luncheon, most of her replies evoked more than a ripple or two of laughter from her fans. When one of the attendees asked Harris if she was telepathic like her leading lady Sookie, Harris remarked, “No, thank God. I’d hate to know what people really think about me. I don’t want to hear what they’re thinking about the size of my butt.”
Harris seems to have a bit of the magic touch when it comes to having her books published. While most writers receive enough rejection notices to wallpaper a small room, Harris’ first book was accepted on the first try. Harris also had an agent seek her out, rather than the other way around. Harris jokingly attributed her good fortune to selling her soul to the devil.
Soul-selling aside, much of Harris’ success is a direct result of being disciplined as a writer. Her writing process is straightforward: she shuts herself in her office and writes for three hours in the morning and then another three hours in the afternoon. She is disciplined enough about her writing to do this every day. She also finds time to read three to four books a week and describes herself as a voracious reader. In addition to working on her books, Harris writes a weekly book review which you can find on her website charlaineharris.com.
Harris had this sound advice for aspiring writers, “Read. Read. Read. Read good stuff. Read bad stuff. Figure out what makes it good or bad. Then shut yourself in a room, sit your butt in a chair and write.”
The luncheon was sponsored by The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow, which provides writing space for writers. You can find more information about what the colony has to offer at their website, writerscolony.org.