Charlaine Harris on Transforming Words From Page to Screen, Reader Reactions
Inverse has a new interview with Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries. Most of it we’ve heard before – she views the screen adaptation as separate from the books, she admires Alan Ball’s vision – but she was a little more forthcoming about how fan reactions to Dead Ever After, the final Sookie novel, affected her.
Longtime readers of this site will recall that we were predicting who Sookie would end up with early on, and getting a lot of vitriol aimed at us for that prediction. That was nothing compared to what Charlaine suffered. In this excerpt, she opens up about that experience.
Your series all vary in length. Do you prefer shorter series or longer series?
I just have a story to tell and it takes me different amounts of times to tell that story. With Sookie, I just finally thought, I’ve said everything I have to say about her and it’s time to move on. That was right for me. Though I do miss, there are a lot of things about writing Sookie, but there are a lot of things I don’t miss, like the overwhelming reader involvement, which can be very flattering and pleasant but can also be kind of scary sometimes.
The end of the last Sookie book got leaked and unfortunately it wasn’t the end a lot of people apparently expected. I got a big wave of hate and that was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. I could see which was the wind was blowing the last two books and I did everything but draw a runway with a neon sign on it to the ending I was going for. I thought, “I’m not going to ambush them, I want to give clues that I’m not going to end the series the way they think I am, apparently.” But perhaps I was more subtle than I knew, although that’s hard to believe! But apparently, some people just didn’t want to read the signals I was sending out and they were really very angry.
How did you prevent that from affecting you?
I had to build up a method to deal with it. At first I was just devastated. I couldn’t write for a couple of months. I felt crippled. I never expected anything like that. The internet certainly emboldens people to say things that they would never say to your face. I’ve developed emotional tactics to deal with it and I know that it’s not the end of the world for my career or my readership. I was just so devastated by that, but you just have to deal with it and more forward.
Here’s a question I’ve literally been waiting years to ask! Now that we’re a few years removed from the end of the Sookie novels, have any you re-read the series and felt differently about the ending? Knowing Sookie’s “fate”, were you able to pick up on the “runway with a neon sign” Charlaine wove into the story?