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Vampires, werewolves and … ducks. A chat with Charlaine Harris

Q&AlisonVampires are alive and well (er, dead and well) and skulking about Louisiana, as any fan of HBO’s “True Blood” knows. But what they might not know is that the creator of Sookie Stackhouse and the series of books on which the show is based is a Mississippi native with a very large collection of ducks. Alison Stewart spoke with bestselling author Charlaine Harris about some of the odd moments in the life of a vampire storyteller.

Alison Stewart: Charlaine, true or false? You had vampire teeth made.

Charlaine Harris: I did. (Laughs.) … It seems kind of cheesy to me now, but about 10 years ago I had a really beautiful set made … from my teeth impression and everything.

Stewart: Just wore them around the house, or …?

Charlaine Harris. Photo: Caroline Grayshock

Harris: (Laughs.) I don’t know why I thought that would be such a good idea, but I did wear them to events for a while, a very short while.

Stewart: Who would you rather be married to a vampire, a werewolf or a fairy?

Harris: Rather be married to a werewolf because they can be awake during the day, they’re not liable to turn me into a frog, and they don’t bite usually.

Stewart: Who do you let read your books to give you feedback?

Harris: Normally I have two beta readers, my good friend Tony Kellner and my good friend Dana Cameron. My husband reads them, but all he says is, that’s the best thing you’ve ever written because he learned early on that was the only possible response. But my two good friends do give me excellent criticism, very constructive. And then, of course, I’ll send it to my editor and the whole team of people that has to read it at Penguin.

Stewart: There’s a comic book that’s actually been made about you.

Harris: Yes, I know. Errrrr!

Stewart: Oh. You don’t like the comic book?

Harris: Uh, I think it’s horrifyingly embarrassing.

Stewart: Why?

Harris: You know I … you know that’s just … that was just strange.

Stewart: Who did it?

Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

Harris's newest book is out this month.

Harris: I don’t even remember the name of the company, but they said we’re going to do a Charlaine Harris comic book. They sent me one they’d done of Caroline Kennedy, and I said, well, I’d really rather you not do that. And they said, well, we’re going to do it anyway so wouldn’t it be better if you cooperated? And I thought this sounds a lot like blackmail to me but I did. And then I saw in their publicity, they said this is the only thing we’ve ever done that the subject fully cooperated with, and I thought uhhhh. You know, one of the pitfalls of being a little bit better known.

Stewart: You learn along the way.

Harris: You do learn along the way.

Stewart: What is the craziest thing someone has brought to you while you’re on book tour at any of these signings?

Harris: Oh my gosh, well, brought to the book tour or sent me?

Stewart: One of each.

Harris: OK, on book tour, people have brought me really personal things of theirs. People bring me ducks a lot, artificial ducks, because my name on my website is duck pond. I used to have ducks. We have a pond. But people bring me all forms of ducks. And some of them are a little large, you know and hard to travel with, but I probably have 400 ducks — you know stuffed ducks, plastic ducks, glass ducks, duck lights. (Laughs.) I have ducks. I have lots of ducks. And then someone brought me the paper dolls of the characters on “True Blood.”

Stewart: Oh, cool.

Harris: You know, someone put out the paper dolls, they brought me those, and I was going, OK, now that is different. The weirdest thing somebody has sent me, this woman and, God love her, she put so much work into them, she made all the houses in the series out of needlepoint and sent them to me. Yeah. I mean they’re small, but, gosh, that represents a huge amount of work. But talk about a gift I never expected to get … I was delighted that she was giving me her creativity in return for mine, but I was also astounded.

Stewart: Do you believe in the supernatural personally? In ghosts and next lives?

Harris: It depends on what part of the supernatural you’re talking about. I actually do believe in ghosts. Not that I’ve ever experienced anything, but I think maybe I just want to. Everything else, no, not really, but I try to keep an open mind. I would hate to ignore evidence in front of me just because I couldn’t accept it.

Stewart: And they’re likely to find you.

Harris: Yeah, thank you for that, Alison. (Laughs.)

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