True Blood, the hit HBO show about the supernatural world of Sookie Stackhouse, has captured the imaginations of genre fans across the globe with its sometimes sexy, sometimes savage vampires, werewolves, witches and fairies. But among its biggest fans is the creator of Sookie Stackhouse, author Charlaine Harris, on whose Southern Vampire Mysteries the series is based. I recently sat down and chatted with Harris (who will conclude the Stackhouse saga with its thirteenth novel), and she shared with me her thoughts about the TV adaptation of her books. Find out what she had to say after the jump.
How do you feel about the way True Blood blends the genres you blend in the Sookie Stackhouse novels? How close do you think it comes to the mix you create in the books?
Hmmm. It doesn't approach the mix in the same way. But they do have the overarching theme for the season, which is somewhat similar to the overarching mystery in the book. But of course Alan [Ball] emphasizes certain aspects of the story far more than I do; and he's just interested in different things about the same material than I am.
Can you give an example of how your two approaches differ?
Well, his Sookie – or maybe this is Anna [Paquin]'s decision – is angrier than my Sookie. My Sookie is very much a take-life-like-you-find-it, count-your-blessings king of girl. Sookie in the show seems angrier to me. And she seems more violent maybe, more violent in her reactions. But that's just my observation.
Do you think that allows the show to add more horror to its mix?
I think it makes it a somewhat different character, but of course a very attractive character to viewers, and I certainly enjoy the show.
Do you find True Blood entertaining in the way it surprises you with your own material?
Oh yeah. It would bore me to tears if it were exactly like the books. And I hate to bored, ever. I have a really low boredom threshold.
That's reflected in the books. [Laughs.]
They do hop around. [Laughs.]
You obviously love all your characters, but is there one to whom you're less attracted on paper and more attracted to on the show?
Well, obviously Nelsan Ellis has done a fabulous job with Lafayette. I killed him off very quickly in the books, but on the show he saved his own life by being so fabulous. And you know he's just nothing like that personally. He's a married guy who's a very snappy dresser, but in a conservative way. But on the show, he's… Lafayette! [Laughs.] He's just amazing. He's so talented.
Is Lafayette one of the shows gifts to you?
Yes. Then I love the character Jessica on the show. People always say, "Is there anything you wish you had thought of?" Well I wish I had thought of Jessica. Because I think she's a great foil for Bill. I think she's a great addition to the series.
Many writers comment on how the adaptations of their books don't affect their work. Have you found any of the portrayals on True Blood to be so strong that they've influenced the way you write your characters?
Not really so much because I'm so far ahead. But every now and then I wonder if I'm in danger of being confused between the two. Sometimes when I write characters, I think, "Wait a minute – am I writing TV Sookie or book Sookie?" Then I think, "Let's get back to our roots and remember what we're doing, young lady." So it is possible for me to be influenced I guess, but I didn't think so until real recently. So I think it's probably best I'm winding it up then, before I get really confused. [Laughs.]
Do you find yourself watching the show more often when you're not in the midst of a novel, in order to keep the two separate?
No, I can't wait. I want to watch. They send me a screener, usually two days before the show is on the air. They send it special courier. And I've got to sign for it and they have a little number in the corner so if I leak it they can tell it was me.
[Laughs.] If anyone's allowed to leak it, it should be you.
"Excuse me?" [Laughs.] But usually I do get the screener ahead of time and I watch it. Then sometimes I'll just turn the TV on on a Sunday night. Just because I find that sometimes if I watch it a second time I'll get a lot of things I didn't get the first time.