Charlaine Harris spoke at Shippensburg University on Wednesday, March 24, 2010. I have never read any of her books, I’ve never watched True Blood, so I went into the lecture knowing nothing about her except that she’s written several southern mystery book series in addition to the Sookie Stackhouse vampire book series. But despite knowing very little about her and her books, I attended the lecture because I always like to hear writers speak about their work. And she’s a pretty big name being a best-selling author and all.
She spoke for about 15-20 minutes, mostly paraphrasing the article she wrote for Proteus: A Journal of Ideas, published by Shippensburg University. She spoke about vampires, real-life animal-type vampires (vampire bats, leeches, etc) and fictional vampires. Charlaine Harris is a short, chubby, pleasant-looking woman with a soft southern accent. She wore bright red shoes that evening. They stick out in my memory, probably because I like odd-colored shoes. Then she opened up for questions from the audience for the next 40-45 minutes.
The audience found over a dozen different ways to ask “what will happen next” in the Sookie books. And Charlaine Harris, very politely, found over a dozen ways to say, “I can’t tell you.” Some audience members asked about her writing processes and we learned that she writes every day, all day, with a few breaks for meals. And sometimes the business of being Charlaine Harris gets in the way of her writing, but that’s to be expected.
At one point she said (and I paraphrase because I don’t remember her exact words), “I don’t know the ending to a story before I start writing. Where’s the fun in that?” I love that.