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Monday, September 7, 2009

Charlaine Harris at DragonCon: “These may be the final three Sookie books”

Novelist Charlaine Harris sinks her teeth into DragonCon

We had to battle past Starfleet ensigns, storm troopers, the Green Giant and yes, a few members of the undead to reach writer Charlaine Harris during the DragonCon convention this weekend at the Hyatt downtown.

Thanks to the success of the new HBO hit “True Blood,” based on Harris’ series of Southern vampire Sookie Stackhouse novels, the Magnolia, Arkansas resident has become a rock star on the sci-fi/comics convention circuit.

Still, Harris was to sit quietly in the hotel lounge, observing the bizarre buffet of people-watching in front of her completely undisturbed.

Well, until we showed up anyhow.

She’s still getting used to her new celebrity status. Of her packed panel session this summer at Comic-Con in San Diego with Marietta’s “True Blood” executive producer Alan Ball, she told us: “It was hell. “It was so huge and a little overwhelming. And when you have so many TV and movie people around you, there’s a lot of security.”

Thankfully, the author says only one car-load of overly zealous Sookie Stackhouse readers have actually driven to her Southern Arkansas hometown to pay an unscheduled visit.

“But the chamber of commerce lady tells me she gets a lot of calls!” Harris says laughing. “I honestly don’t know what people expect to see. I’m a boring middle class, middle aged wife and mother. There aren’t any vampires and werewolves in my back yard. I just have a very rich inner life!”

While her nine successful Sookie Stackhouse novels (a 10th, “Dead in the Family” is due out in May 2010) were initially optioned for the movies, “Six Feet Under” creator and “American Beauty” writer Ball was the Hollywood producer who finally proved to Harris he could effectively bring her characters to life via “True Blood.”

“Alan convinced me through his work and his words that he truly understood the comedy, the blood and the romance of the books,” Harris said.

Still, when the pilot episode of “True Blood” aired last year, Harris was uncertain how folks would receive it in her small hometown.

“I was doing this!” Harris explains, covering her face with her hands and peeking out from between two fingers. “There was just acres of flesh. I had to warn my husband! I thought I might have to pack up and leave town. But my neighbors told me, ‘Oh well, we know it was Alan who put all that sex stuff in.’ I remember thinking, ‘Well, Alan put most of that sex stuff in there!’ ”

Harris says she just signed a new book contract for Sookie novels 11, 12 and 13.

“These may be the final three Sookie books,” she says. “I want to stop while I’m still being entertained. I don’t want to be the last person to know I’ve gone stale.”

And Harris has had the final scene of the last book in her head since she was writing book two in the series.

“I know where the end of the rainbow is for Sookie,” Harris taunts with a mischievious smile. “It will please some readers and displease others, I’m sure. I just hope they’ll stick with me until I get there!”

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