When Charlaine Harris published her final Sookie Stackhouse novel, Dead Ever After, she braced herself for a strong reaction from fans. But she admits to having no idea just how strong it would be, even receiving death threats.
In a recent interview with SciFiNow, the writer admitted: “I seriously considered getting a bodyguard for the first time in my career,” she says. “I’m foolish enough to like people to like me and when I find out that people are really very angry with me and are saying vicious and unkind things, I get very upset, naturally. I can’t just throw it off; I’m getting better at that though.”
[SPOILERS for Dead Ever After] The ending of the 13-book saga split readers when Sookie and Eric ended their relationship and the sun-seeking telepath chose to shack up with long-time friend Sam Merlotte. “I’ve always said remember Eric’s a vampire, vampires kill people, and I thought I had made it clear that his first choice was always going to be himself,” she reasons. “But I guess people just read what they wanna read.”
The TV show True Blood has no doubt had something to do with Eric’s popularity, thanks to Alexander Skarsgård’s charismatic portrayal. “I told Alexander it was all his fault,” she laughs, “I don’t think he appreciated that too much, but I was wearing these heels at the time that really hurt!”
According to the author, Sookie and Sam have been written in the stars since the beginning. “When I was writing the second or third book I thought ‘This is the where I’m going to get to, it might take a while but she’ll end up with Sam because that way she’ll be happy.’ I got a lot of ‘Oh, she’s just settling for him’ – no – she’s lucky to have him. He’s lucky to have her, they’re right for each other.”
Over the course of the books, Sookie has had her fair share of love interests since her first boyfriend, Bill. There’s been Alcide the were, Quinn the were tiger, and of course Eric, but Harris says she’s taken a little away from ever relationship she’s had. “For someone who always thought it would be impossible to have a permanent relationship with someone, she learned she could,” reflects Harris.
“She learned she wanted children and that she couldn’t live without going out in the day time. Being doomed to years and years of night would be so bad for her. And she discovered that people did care about her even though it was hard for her to see that because she could hear their thoughts and that’s such a terrible thing – I did such a bad thing to her!” The conclusion to Dead Ever After, where members of the Bon Temps community spring to Sookie’s rescue, was Harris’ way of proving that to her protagonist. “I thought, ‘she’ll know that they do value things about her'” she says.
Over the years, the kick-ass heroine has always had a hot dish for anyone in need, and always a Coke or a True Blood in the fridge, for humans and supes alike. This, it turns out, is just what you do in the south where Harris grew up, “The first thing you do in the south is ask visitors what they’d like to drink and then if they’re anywhere around mealtime you ask if they wanna eat with you. In the south I grew up in, that was the norm.” One thing that was alien to the writer, however, were bars like Merlotte’s. Growing up in a dry county where liquor was banned completely, Harris only saw a real bar when she started college.
Her hometown of Mississippi was what inspired the inclusion of the world’s most famous vampire: Bubba. “Elvis came from there so we’re all proud of our hometown boy who made good, so to speak. And there were so many sightings of him after his death – that was what started me off thinking – what if he was a vampire? That would explain so much.”
The next series she writes will be set in Texas, about a group of people who have all moved to a crossroads for various reasons. There will be characters from all her various series but the locale will be very different from what Harris has written before. “Texas is quite different from Mississippi where I grew up,” she says, “and the further out you get, the eastern part of Texas, the more different it becomes. I’m writing about a different terrain and different attitudes.”
The first in a contracted trilogy of books, titled Midnight Crossroad, is pencilled for a May 2014 release.
Dead Ever After is out now, pick it up for £9.50 from Amazon.co.uk.