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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Charlaine Harris, author of the "Southern Vampire Mysteries" book series is the keynote speaker of Gainesville Anhinga Writers' Studio 2009 Summer Studio held this week at the Hilton Conference Center on 34th Street.

Tonight, she will share tricks of her craft with aspiring novelists in Gainesville.

Harris' succesful book series centers on the trials of Sookie Stackhouse, a mind-reading waitress living in BonTemps, La., who has fallen in love with the local vampire.

Harris' novels craftily weave the real and the surreal and won her the Anthony Award for best paperback mystery in 2001. The "Southern Vampire Mysteries" series is also the basis for HBO's weekly drama, "True Blood," starring Academy Award-winning actress Anna Paquin. The show is in its second season.

Harris, a New York Times best-selling author, is currently working on the 10th book to the Sookie Stackhouse series - anticipated in 2010.

How do you relate to Sookie?

Well, everyone I write about is a part of me, which in itself is a little scary.

Would you say you started the current vampire literary trend?

No, Laurell K. Hamilton was the start of the current wave of the vampire craze, and then I came right after her. It's certainly a newly popular field in writing. I feel fine to be a part of it, but I hope that when people move along to something else, that I'm still left standing.

How do you feel about HBO signing the 'Southern Mysteries' into the True Blood series?

I knew when I signed the contract with Alan that he would have to change the story somewhat because it's told from first person point of view. And you can't film a television show like that, but he stays true to the spirit of the books.

Do you believe in vampires?

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I know there are people that think that they're vampires, but I've never met a true vampire myself.

Would you call the "Southern Vampire Mysteries" frightening?

I certainly don't see my books as frightening. Life is scary enough.

Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

Inspiration isn't a word that describes the writing process. If you're a writer, that's what you do - you think about things to write. If you wait for inspiration, you're going to be sitting there and your contracts going to be gone and your editor will fire you.

What was the one point that you knew you were successful?

After the first book, "Dead Until Dark," had been out maybe three or four months, I had already signed a contract for two books. And they wanted to sign another contract for three more books before the second one had even been written.

How does your family react to you being a writer?

They're used to it. They're used to their mom not being like other moms. Now that I'm very successful, they finally think I'm cool.

What do you do in your free time?

I read. I read and I write. Writing books is a very solitary process, and the only way you can get it done is motivate yourself to do it. You have to be able to start yourself and keep on going without anybody standing over you.

What do you plan to do in Gainesville?

I look forward to talking to people in a little more depth than I usually do. Talking about my longevity in the publishing industry will help people when they're faced with their own choices.

Do you have any advice for upcoming writers?

Every writer needs to read as much as they possibly can. You need to learn to separate the good writing from the bad, and you need to know why. It's also important to always have something waiting in the wings that you want to do. Never just have just one project, because that just doesn't work now. The event is open to the public, and tickets are available at the door for $25.

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