The woman who wrote the comedic vampire books that inspired the HBO series True Blood is author Charlaine Harris. In what will be her only appearance in support of the reissue of her book Living Dead in Dallas, the second Sookie Stackhouse title, she's set to speak at the Central Branch of the Houston Public Library tomorrow.
The book is named Living Dead in Dallas, so a stop in the Big D would seem a natural, but Harris chose to come to Houston instead and she talked to Hair Balls about why. "My favorite book store in America is in Houston, Murder by the Book on Bissonnet. The owners and staff of MBTB supported me when there was no career to support, starting twenty-plus years ago. So if I sign anywhere for a book, it'll be in Houston."
Set in the Louisiana town of Beau Temps, True Blood, like the book series it's based on, centers on a telepathic waitress named Sookie Stackhouse and her vampire boyfriend, Bill. Harris has had limited involvement in the production of True Blood, but she's been happy with the show's adaptation of her novels. "I have no input into show, other than the fact that I provided the basic schematic in the form of the Sookie novels. In return, Alan doesn't tell me how to write my books. We're each doing what we do best," she says. "I've never been a control freak and when you ally with a great talent like [series creator] Alan Ball, you have to let go and see what happens. That's why I accepted his offer over the others on the table. I'm fascinated with the choices Alan and the other writers are making."
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As with many other vampire novels, Harris's books use the undead as a metaphor for "otherness," exemplifying racism, homophobia and class delineations. Harris says that while she does have those issues in mind, mostly she just wants to entertain. "Sure I have an agenda. But my main goal is to entertain the reader, to give the reader a little vacation."
So what's next for Sookie? Harris won't say much, except, "The next book is Dead and Gone. It comes out in May. Sookie is in Bon Temps for this one, and it has some pretty grim action in it."
Charlaine Harris appears at 7 p.m. Central Library, 500 McKinney. For information, call 832-393-1313 or visit www.houstonlibrary.org. Free.
-- Olivia Flores Alvarez