Interview: Charlaine Harris


by Danielle Holian

American New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris has been writing for thirty years. Although she started out writing poems about teenage angst and ghosts, she switched to writing plays, which lead her to begin writing novels; Sweet and Deadly was her first publication in 1981. She attended Rhodes College in Memphis. She began writing full-time after she got married stating, “I always wanted to write full-time, and when I married Hal in 1978, he offered me the opportunity to stay home to write full-time. It was a great opportunity, and I took advantage of it.”

A big success for Harris was with The Sookie Stackhouse Stories; based around a world populated by vampires and other supernatural creatures. The book series laid the  foundation for the hit HBO television show True Blood, which premiered in September 2008. It was created as an urban fantasy series and the first book, Dead Until Dark, won the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Mystery in 2001. The 12-year book series enclosed with 13 best-selling novels.

Harris has kept herself busy writing for the past few decades and says, “Inspiration is an essential part of the writing process, and it is necessarily a part of a writer’s brain,” later describing her creative process as, “When I’m beginning a new series, I start with a kernel of an idea, and the world gradually forms around that one kernel.”  The meaning of being creative to her is, “Making something from nothing.”

When asked about growing up in Tunica, Mississippi, United States, and how it affected her writing, Harris stated, “Definitely a lot. The terrain, the culture, the mindset . . . These were all an integral part of my growth.” Her life in general has influenced her work as she has expressed, “All my trials and tribulations, the joys I’ve experienced . . . They all affect my work.” As well as being an incredible writer, she is also a book-worm, “I love to read.” Two of her most loved pieces of writing are Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

She enjoys collaborating from time-to-time, but does not see herself writing alongside someone ‘in the same room’. When asked to describe the difference from her voice and thoughts when writing, she said, “Thoughts are often incomplete and nebulous. A voice has to be clear and distinctive.” As hard as it is to balance life, especially for a writer, when asked what makes things interesting when writing, she states “I write to keep myself entertained. I figured if I’m entertained, the reader will be, too.”

When asked how her writing has evolved since she began, she states it has ‘enormously’; “My vision is more clear.” And what’s next for Charlaine Harris? “I’ll complete the second Aurora novel, and then on to another world.”

Lastly, Harris finished the interview by giving some advice for fellow writers, “Finish your book. Until you finish, you can’t call yourself a writer.” She went on to describe the struggle of writing a novel, “Starting a book is easy. Finishing a complete book is hard. Shut yourself in a room and dedicate a little time every day to your task.”

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