DA Kentner writes the column THE READERS' WRITERS for the (Freeport) Journal-Standard and GateHouse News Service. My alter ego KevaD lives under a stairway of dreams where he writes stories and grumbles about everything. Click the pic to visit KevaD's blog.
Drop me a line at dakentner@yahoo.com

I invite you to read my award-winning short story posted on Calliope Magazine's web site.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Best-Selling Author Charlaine Harris

Yes. Charlaine Harris is a New York Times best-selling author. Yes. She is quickly becoming a household name in conversations from quilting circles to high school hallways both through her writing and the advent of HBO’s “True Blood” series based on her Sookie Stackhouse novels. Yes. It “only” took her a quarter century to attain this level of popularity. And, yes, she is talented - - very, very talented.

But did you know, besides her husband, children, dogs, and one duck (I don’t know why only one either), the Mississippi Delta native now living in Arkansas is passionate about improving the lives of people at home and around the world?

Ms Harris is an advocate for Doctors Without Borders, Habitat for Humanity, the ASPCA, and the Crime Lab Project. The Crime Lab Project promotes bringing crime labs into the modern age - helping law enforcement and victims identify and capture criminals. CSI is TV, folks - - fiction.

If you really want to help make a difference, join with Ms Harris in support of organizations such as the Crime Lab Project. http://www.charlaineharris.com/

Q) DEAD UNTIL DARK, the first in the Sookie Stackhouse series, broke traditional genre boundaries and started an avalanche of new authors for enthralled readers. But all writers share a love of reading. What books or stories first captured your interest and inspired you to write?

A) DEAD RECKONING will be on the shelves in May, but THE SOOKIE STACKHOUSE COMPANION won’t be available until August 30. It wasn’t shaping up as quickly as we wanted, and I had some family things to deal with, so it got moved back. HOME IMPROVEMENT: UNDEAD EDITION, the latest anthology edited by Toni L.P. Kelner and myself, will be out August 2. I’ll have a story in DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS (edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois) in October. That’s my publishing year.

I loved Poe when I was very young, and I read broadly, anything I could get my hands on. I loved “Jane Eyre,” still do. I’m a great Jane Austen fan. But I also read lots of mysteries and lots of science fiction, particularly Ray Bradbury and H.P. Lovecraft. I was born wanting to write, I think.

Q) I’m sorry. I have to ask. What went though your mind when you learned HBO was interested in Sookie? She is, after all, your creation, a part of you.

A) Very fortunately for me, there were a lot of people interested in Sookie at the same time. HBO was not involved then; the interest came from Alan Ball, who later made a deal with HBO. I’m sure all of the parties involved would have done a good job, but of course when Alan expressed an interest, I was very excited. He’s such a great talent.

Q) Sookie is becoming a much beloved character. What do you think it is that draws people to her, and what was the inspiration that first penned her?

A) When I was framing Sookie’s character, I started with the basic premise that only a woman with some kind of disability, or severe problem, would date a vampire. I build her personality and her circumstances around that central core. I wanted to care for her, so I made her interesting to me, sympathetic, and fallible. I’m not interested in writing perfect people or superheroes. I think people like Sookie because she always tries hard to do the right thing, though she’s not always sure what the right thing is.

Q) Sooner or later, the other characters in your mind will demand their stories be told. Is there a particular one taking the forefront you can share with us at this time?

A) Ahhh . . . no. Those who talk, don’t do.

Q) Your passion and compassion for others is admirable and commendable. Is there a person in your life you attribute your caring heart to?

A) Absolutely. My mother, who died last September, was a great woman and a great Christian. Everything good in me comes from her and my father.

Q) With the current turmoil in the publishing world as it adjusts to the reality and future of Ebooks, what advice can you offer aspiring authors?

A) With the Borders closings and the advent of Ebooks, the future of publishing and writing is certainly changing month by month. We can either insist that the old ways were best and go under, or we can go with the flow and learn new ways of marketing and selling our work. I am a dinosaur in the publishing world; I’ve been on the shelves for over 30 years now. I urge aspiring authors to become wise in the ways of new technology, but not to ignore the basic premise that if you produce a really good book, someone will be interested. It’s all too easy to decide to skip the sometimes tedious and terrifying process of submitting your book to accredited publishers in favor of publishing your own work. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good thing if you treat the e-process as respectfully as you would hardback publication with a major house. It’s a bad thing if you use it as an excuse to submit a sloppy manuscript with so many errors in grammar, punctuation, and content that the reader can’t see the bones of the story.

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