Monday, September 8, 2008

True Blood Is True Success

True Blood, the television series based on Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire books debuted last night. If you missed it--poor, poor you. Go to to see the first episode. Then tune your television for every Sunday at 9 p.m. (Check to see if that's correct for your time zone, please.)

Okay, that's about as much as I can write without gushing--praise, not blood. I mean I am totally over the moon with what Alan Ball did with the books. And the intro to the show itself is breath-taking. What a fabulous montage of all things Southern, and faintly creepy.

I'm a big fan of the series. So much so, that when Michael had mono his junior year, I read him the first chapter of Dead Until Dark, the first book in the series, knowing he'd be hooked. And he was. He zipped through the books--a blessing when your kid is sick is to find a great distraction--and asked me, "When's the next one coming out? Can you go get it? NOW?"

My 17-year-old son was mesmerized by Sookie, vampire Bill, Sam the bartender, Merlotte's Bar, and the whole Louisiana setting. I knew he would be. I had "found" Charlaine and started with her Amanda Teagarden books, which I liked. But it was her Lily Bard series which starts with Shakespeare's Landlord that I admired as an author. Lily is scarred, tough but wise, and the gritty poignant portrayal of a woman who is down but not out was exactly the tone I wanted to strike when I wrote Paper, Scissors, Death. In fact, I think that Lily Bard and my character Mert Chambers, who is my protagonist Kiki Lowenstein's best friend as well as her former cleaning lady, as channeling Lily Bard.

Now let me tell you about Charlaine Harris. (Go to to read more.) She's the most unassuming, sweet-natured, wonderful woman. At every conference, she totally cracks up her audiences. I recall one particular interview with her. The moderator asked if she had any books she'd written but wasn't particularly thrilled with. Ones that had, perhaps, not fulfilled her expectations.

"If books are like children," she drawled, "I have a couple that would definitely be riding the Special Bus."

So here's to Charlaine. (She's on the right and I'm on the left in the photo taken at Malice in 2006.) True Blood is a true success we can all enjoy!


Camille Minichino said...

I'll have to get treatment for my vampire-o-phobia first! Maybe if you turned it into a scrapbook page, Joanna?

Camille Minichino said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Monica Ferris said...

I read Interview with a Vampire when it first came out and liked it. But that was a long time ago, and I don't know if I'd like that theme in a novel now. Still, I met Charlaine Harris at a Malice Domestic con some years back and she was amazing -- funny and charming in equal parts, a real southern belle. So maybe I should try one of her books . . .

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Despite the subject matter, really, the books aren't alike at all. I highly recommend Charlaine's work to you. I've read Rice, and it's very dark. Charlaine's is poignant, but much more lively.

Betty Hechtman said...

I'm not a big vampire fan, but Charlaine's book sounds interesting. I'll check it out.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

I know. Some of the vampire stuff relies too much on the vampire, doesn't it? But Charlaine has such a fabulous sense of humor...and her sense of place is great. I think this is what we cozy writers want to pull off...we might be listed as a cozy about scrapbooking or crochet, but we hope that our characters and plot are such that those who are NOT hobbyists find them interesting, too. And Charlaine manages this with her Southern Vampire Series.

Kathryn Lilley said...

I will check out the series, thanks!

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