When the Book Tour dates for Deadlocked were announced back in March, I started comparing which dates and locations would be the best for me to attend. I ended up deciding to go to the Charlotte and Winston- Salem events, this way I could make it a mini road trip. Quite a few folks asked me “Really? You are going to 2 events? Why?” My response was “Why not. I love Charlaine and you tend to learn different things from each Q&A session.”
I won’t bore you with the details on the drive up, but needless to say my day started very early on Sunday May 6th to make sure I arrived at the Arboretum Barnes and Noble in Charlotte to get my signing line ticket and ensure I get a good spot for the Q&A. I would say front row was a good spot . There were several of us “camped out” around 12:30 with the event starting around 3pm. It was a blast connecting with fellow fans and talking about the books, what we thought of Deadlocked, Eric, what might happen in Dead Ever After and Eric, True Blood and the Eric storyline, Alex and his projects, other books… did I mention we talked about Eric?
While we were talking and stalking our watches for 3 pm, the area filled up with other patrons and became standing room only. It was a glorious site… and sound as the cheers and clapping grew when Charlaine made her way to the front for the Q&A session. She was gracious and entertaining as she repeated our questions through her mic so those in the back could hear before answering it… if she could. There were some questions that were asked that might have been spoilery for Dead Ever After. My own question asking the name of Eric’s other child (confirmed to appear in DEA during a previous Q&A) got a I can’t answer now “but you know Eric.. he does like them blonde”. She also confirmed that there will be a new Sookie story in an anthology coming out in August that will have Hunter in it. Of course when it was repeated that Dead Ever After was the last book, we all made a sad sound until Charlaine playfully redirected us by mimicking us and saying “Yay, we are getting another book”.
Surprisingly, there were not a lot of Deadlocked questions but we covered a range of topics between her writing style, her other series, Harper Connelly being turned into a show on SyFy. She lit up like a Christmas tree when discussing her newest series “Midnight Pawn”, that there will be several characters from her other stories making appearances. You can tell she can’t wait to sink her teeth into it.
I loved it when she was describing her path to becoming a writer. Like when she was working for minimum wage (way back when), she thought of writing as her “secret identity”. It drew laughs from us. Charlaine mainly writes what entertains herself, and tries to write 7 pages a day. She has admitted to writing herself in a few corners a few times and was able to turn most of it around. She also apologized for killing Claudine, it was an accidental killing spree and she regrets the loss of Claudine. Her content editor is in charge on making sure there is character continuity through out her books. She hired her directly for the soul fact that she would be dedicated to her works and not need to split time with other authors.
You can totally tell that she loves all her characters and would love to write another Aurora book… if the right story came to her. Sookie’s evolution from Dead until Dark through Deadlocked and her inner strength is a source of pride. The Q&A took a turn for the serious when Charlaine continued that she would never write another Lilly Bard story, since she went to a dark place to write these stories and will not go back to that world.
“As a survivor of rape, I choose to live in the here and now and not dwell in the past” ~ Charlaine Harris (paraphrased)
Applause broke out in tribute to her strength.
We also had a serious moment when one audience members asked Charlaine if there was a review or critique that made an impression on her. She responded that “any writer” should not pay attention to the reviews left at Amazon as people can be pretty hateful when they can be anonymous.
There were several TB related questions that came up. The one asking who does she think will be playing Quinn on the show made me cringe since it was a book event. Charlaine took it in stride and said she wasn’t sure if he would even be on the show. Another question inquired how she felt about all the changes they have made from her story. In her fashion she jokingly replied that she cried… all the way to the bank. It was all said in good humor. We also got a few more stock answers when asked about True Blood and the actors and how she was not part of the show creative team and which actor best fit her vision of the character (Chris Bauer as Andy, though Joe M is trying his best by working out as often as he does).
The Q&A over all was very enjoyable and lots of good information shared and the excitement rose as we got ready for the signing line. The staff at the abortorium was very organized and after about a hundred some people… I met the Maker It was truly an honor to meet her and thanked her for the Sookie books for with out them I would not have met some of my closest friends through the internet book club and the fandom. She was delighted to hear about that. I also thanked her on behalf of the staff here at E&SL and she laughed and replied “No pressure there!”
After my turn at the signing table, I stayed in the store so I could go through the line a second time to get an extra book signed… and found out a few other fans who would be attending the Winston Salem event the next night as well. At my second trip to the desk I joked with Charlaine that I was a part of the see-you-tomorrow crowd. She joked back with that I was a glutton for punishment
And with that, my time in Charlotte wound down as I jumped into my car and made my way 90 miles to Winston-Salem.
My next night found my friend Kat and I at the Salem College for a “Conversation with Charlaine”, an event hosted by Bookmarks (click here for more details). This was a ticketed event, and we had bought the VIP package which included a “Wine and Hors D’oeurves” reception with Charlaine, a gift bag, and a copy of Deadlocked followed by the interview and Q&A. We made sure we arrived with plenty of time to spare so we could figure out the lay of the land. I admit I was extremely entertained when I realized the Salem Fine Arts Center was right beside a grave yard.
After a quick stop in the lobby where I continued my quest to upgrade my paper back copies of SSN into hardback, we made our way to the reception. Along the way, we saw Charlaine get an overview of that evenings stage set up. We waved in greeting and she returned with a quick smile. We continued on our way to the reception site and partook of the goodies there (the food and wine was very yummy) with the waiting crowd. When Charlaine was able to join us, part 1 of her signing session began. Normally during at a signing you stay on one side of the table while the author is on the other and you lean in for pictures. At this reception, we were allowed along side Charlaine while she was signing (and for a quick chat) and we could lean in for a picture with her. When it was my turn to approach the desk, I asked her if she was feeling better (toward the end of the B&N event she was tired) she had a small laugh before turning to the woman holding my camera to tell her that i had been at the event in Charlotte the day before as well. I admit, I had a fangirl moment. I told her she was completely worth it and again thanked her for Sookie as they led me to friends like Kat. We took our pictures and we let Charlaine meet with the next fan in line.
After a bit, we made our way back to the auditorium to make sure we got good seats. First row again. There was time before the 7pm start and we met and took some pics with Stephanie of PaperDollsBlog and of the slide presentation showcasing testimonials about Charlaine’s work among other items .
Now, one would think sitting in the front row would give me great pictures, but with the ban or flashes and use of electrical devises and someone next to you stage whispering that we were told to turn electronics off. I didn’t want to chance being kicked out after my neighbor to the left, especially when i know I would be able to grab photo’s from someone who was able to take them.. ahem
Charlaine and the moderator (Dale Pollock) were introduced and took their seats to a warm welcome of applause and the moderator got down to business. Fans had the opportunity to submit questions online before the event, and it is with these questions the moderator started the interview. Of course most of these questions were about True Blood and Charlaine shared that she had been approached by a few others besides Alan Ball, but that Alan’s proposal was the most intriguing creatively not to mention financially. She knew early on that there would be divergence from her single POV story to adapt to a multi POV for TV. She also reiterated that the books and show need to be taken as different entities, especially since the story is so different from her stories. Through out the discussion Game of Thrones came up and how George RR Martin has some creative input into the show and how he had a different agreement with the producers and HBO. Charlaine shared that she watches True Blood (gets the pre-screener copies) and enjoys it because of all the differences its a whole new world for her too. The moderator, referencing that the show is different, jokes that she should be considered the number 1 fan. When asked if the show has influenced her vision of the book series, Charlaine had a cute answer that her story is how she planned it and there was no intentional inspiration. With a dash of humor, Charlaine mentions that she speaks with humor 80% of the time because there has been times when she was quoted online and people run with it as gospel when she was speaking with humor. Like what she “said” about not being invited to Anna and Stephen’s wedding and only sending a toaster. The conversation was tied back to the books with a lot of the similar questions and answers I had heard yesterday concerning Claudine, a new short story with Hunter. And the cry from the audience that we only have 1 more book, to which Charlaine again lead us with the “Yay, I am getting another book.” She does know how to turn our frown upside down
One of my favorite questions submitted was wondering where all of the Southern Sayings that Sookie quotes (remembers) her Gran came from, Charlaine revealed that these saying were gems from her MOTHER and grandmother. That these sayings gave her female characters a sense of strength and familiarity. Charlaine then quoted her mother as saying “Men are ok, but a woman will always get the job done.” I couldn’t help but smile. And while most of her characters are not inspired by anyone in particular, some characters you can’t help but be inspired by someone or a historical figure. Like Eric, Charlaine had researched a certain Viking name Vladimir who had strong qualities, a nice build, and “someone who could swing a sword.”
It was a definite joy to see her light up again while they discussed her new 3 book series Midnight Pawn. After an audience question if Quinn would be in Dead Ever After, Charlaine shares that he would not be in DEA but look for him to appear in Midnight Pawn.
There were a few other questions surrounding the Harper Connelly series becoming a show on SiFi, the graphic novel and her work schedule before questions were opened up to the audience. Sadly, I wasn’t selected to ask another question. Though the last question asked and its response has struck a chord with me… and could possibly be spoilerish.
The question was “With Eric leaving, will Pam go with him?” Charlaine response was “It’s a bit presumptuous that he is leaving.” “Pam will be happy.” And with that the Q&A concluded and my brain when to speculation island!
I loved every minute of this trip. There were so many items we can use to speculate what might happen in Dead Ever After that we should make it through the next 360 some days till we have it in our hands. For Charlaine is correct.. this is not a sad moment… we should celebrate because we are “Yay, we are getting another book!”
Here are some pictures from each event.