The following interview was first published on PVN December 2007, before True Blood aired on HBO. Charlaine Harris shares her thoughts about giving her Sookie stories over to someone else.
I'm republishing this post in honor of True Blood's start of Season 2 tonight June 14 at 9:00 PM.
This interview was conducted in June 2007 in preparation for the Library Journal column From Shelf to Screen (Oct. 15, 2007). In 2008 HBO will air the TV series True Blood (tentatively scheduled for March) based on the Southern Vampire Mysteries featuring the mind-reading Louisiana barmaid Sookie Stackhouse who finds herself intimately involved with the vampire subculture.
1. Although you are the author of the Southern Vampire Mysteries you have had to turn over creative control to Alan Ball (producer of Six Feet Under). You obviously have a lot of confidence in him, but how were you able to let go of your own creation?
It won't be my creation any more when it's on television. It'll be Alan's creation, and a completely different animal. I'm looking forward to seeing the books from a completely different point of view.
2. Producer Alan Ball is obviously a fan of the Southern Vampire Mysteries. What information have you shared with him on developing the characters, especially Sookie.
I think all the sharing I need to do is right there in the text. When I was trying to decide who to go with, of the offers in front of me, Alan was the one who convinced me he understood what I was doing with the books.
3. Have you made any suggestions for the True Blood stories? Will any of the novels be a basis for an episode?
The pilot episode is Chapter One of Book One, "Dead Until Dark." The plan now is to follow the books chronologically.
4. Has filming begun? Have you been on the set and if so what was it like for you?
Filming starts June 7, last I heard. I have been on the set while it was still being built, and I've met some of the production crew. Without exception, they struck me with their questions, their interest, and their knowledge of the books. It was a really pleasant shock to find out they cared about the books and hoped their vision enriched mine.
5. What do you think of the actors who have been cast? What do you think they will bring to their roles?
I am confident that Alan and his casting director have picked the right people for the right roles, because that's what they do for a living, and their track record says they're pretty good at it. I don't know squat about acting, and I'm really fascinated by the process. It may be I'll learn something about the characters from watching their interpretation!
6. Will there be any kind of publicity touring or interviewing that will include you in helping to launch the series?
I don't think touring . . . I just toured for ALL TOGETHER DEAD, the seventh Sookie. I'm doing quite a few interviews about the show, and I'm sure there'll be more right around the premier, if that's not too grand a name for it.
7. How firm is the Jan.'08 launch date?
I have no idea. After HBO executives view the pilot, that'll be firmed up.
8. Will there be a prescreening of the first episode? Will you be involved in this or will you watch it for the first time along with the rest of us?
Alan has mentioned that I should come to LA for the prescreening, and I'm thinking about it. Depends on what's going on with my family then.
9. Any other comments you wish to make would be welcome.
I've read the first two scripts, and I couldn't be more pleased and excited.
10. Do you have any comments that you would like to make to the library community? It's impact on you or your work?
Sure. My mom (until her retirement) was a librarian, and my sister in law (until her untimely death) was a librarian, and I think it's a super job. It's no coincidence that two of my best friends have been librarians. When I think of how much libraries do for people who need the dreams and the information books hold, it makes me regret I didn't get a degree . . . though I realize that sounds very suck-uppy, as my daughter would say.
Note from Patricia: I love the Southern Vampire Mysteries and was hooked after reading the first book Dead Until Dark (Ace, 2001). What better combination than mystery and vampires? Book number eight From Dead to Worse will be published by Ace in 2008. Like Harris's many fans I look forward to watching the HBO series. Unfortunately the debut date is very dependent on when the current writer's strike is settled. For more thoughts on Charlaine Harris and her vampire series look at Patricia's Vampire Notes for May 12, 2006.
The Sookie Stackhouse Books in order of publication:
Dead Until Dark: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood)
Living Dead in Dallas: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel (True Blood TV Tie-In Edition)
Club Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 3)
Dead to the World (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 4)
Dead as a Doornail (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 5)
Definitely Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 6)
All Together Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 7)
From Dead to Worse (Southern Vampire Mysteries, No. 8)
Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 9)