Charlaine Harris: Making Vampires Southern

by Jan Cottingham  on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 12:00 am  

Charlaine Harris

Writer Charlaine Harris’ decision to bring vampires “out of the coffin” 12 years ago has made her rich, most probably, though all she’ll allow is that she’s “very comfortable.”

It definitely made her famous.

Did it make her influential?

• She has sold more than 20 million copies of her Sookie Stackhouse series, which began in 2001 with the publication of “Dead Until Dark,” in 35 languages, including Slovenian.

• In May 2011, announced that Harris had become the fourth author to enter the “Kindle Million Club,” having sold more than 1 million Kindle books. She joined Stieg Larsson, author of the Millennium Trilogy (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” etc.); James Patterson; and Nora Roberts.

• Her books have repeatedly topped The New York Times best-seller list, and for the week of May 5, 2012, the 12th book in Harris’ Southern Vampire Series, “Deadlocked,” debuted at No. 1 on the NYT hardcover fiction list.

• In November, The Hollywood Reporter ranked her No. 14 on its list of “Hollywood’s 25 Most Powerful Authors,” noting that “True Blood,” HBO’s highest-rated show, was based on her Stackhouse novels. The series, the creation of writer and producer Alan Ball (“American Beauty,” “Six Feet Under”), premiered in 2008. It begins its sixth season in June.

A native of Mississippi who lived for 20 years in Magnolia, Harris looks exactly like the wife and mother of three grown children that she is. And though she and her family moved to the Dallas area just a little more than a year ago —”it became evident none of our children were going to return to Magnolia, and proximity to a major airport was a real attraction” — Harris said Arkansas is a part of her fiction.

Following is an email interview Arkansas Business conducted with the writer.

Q. Based on interviews with you and stories I’ve read about you, you seem pragmatic about writing, viewing it as a job with certain steps to follow to achieve success. What accounts for your pragmatic approach?

A. Publishing is a business; writing is an art. Though what I do is subjective and difficult, I still have deadlines to make, a travel schedule to maintain and business decisions to make every day of the week. It can be hard to keep both sides of this job up to par, and harder yet to simply immerse myself in the pleasure of writing. And there’s no plan you can make in writing that will be sure to achieve success. It’s a fickle business.

How much money does a writer with your track record make?



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