Saturday, May 15, 2010

Charlaine does Dallas: Know Your Sookie Books Before You Meet the Author

The author of the book series behind HBO's True Blood will be in Big D Saturday for a book signing.

Charlaine Harris will be at the Borders on Preston Road and Royal Lane to read from and sign the latest Sookie Stackhouse novel, Dead in the Family.

The book is the 10th in the best-selling, genre-transcending Southern Vampire Mysteries about a telepathic barmaid living in the small town of Bon Temps in northern Louisiana.

Not quite a romance, not quite a mystery, yet not quite a fantasy, the series follows Sookie's struggles with her "disability" (telepathy), her first love, her introduction to werewolves, witches and fairies and her tangles in vampire politics. Most of all, the Southern Vampire Mysteries is about a young woman coming into her own.

But don't write the books off as just one of the dreary, melodramatic vampire romances that are so in vogue these days -- these books are fun. Critics have described the Sookie Stackhouse books as "delightful" and "riotous."

If you're a True Blood fan who hasn't read the books but want to meet Sookie's creator anyway, we've got you covered.

Five Things to Know About the Series Behind “True Blood”

1. Yes, the TV show is based on a series of books.
The first book in the Southern Vampire Mysteries, Dead Until Dark, was published in 2001, far predating the HBO series. Charlaine Harris doesn't have direct involvement with "True Blood," but she says on her website that she is "delighted" with what showrunner Alan Ball has done with the show.

2. This ain't "True Blood."
Like any screen adaptation, True Blood deviates quite a bit in tone and style from its source material. While you probably don't want to watch episodes of the show on your laptop on an airplane, reading the books aloud in public won't make you blush. And unlike the show, the books are told in the first-person from Sookie's perspective. Her narration is part of what makes the books so humorous; even when she's down, Sookie never stops being amusing.

3. Be prepared for possible "True Blood" spoilers.
Just reading the book jacket for Dead in the Family is likely to give you hints to things that have yet to be introduced in the show. But on the bright side, while the first season of the show actually hewed fairly close to the plot of the first Sookie book, the second definitely went off in its own direction. There's no knowing how much of the books' mythology Alan Ball will leave off the writing table.

4. Look for the short stories for a complete picture of the Sookieverse.
Sookie and a few other characters are featured in short stories that were published in various anthologies. Harris' website lists all of them, along with ISBN numbers. While they aren't all essential, the novella about Sookie's cousin, Hadley, does add quite a bit of backstory to the main series.

5. There is backstory ahoy in this series.
Let's be honest: Harris is on book 10 now. While she is good about trying to include exposition at the beginnings of her books, it's probably not going to be enough to catch you up if you have only seen the television series. Sookie's world in Dead in the Family is completely different from how her life was in the first few books. A lot has happened, and characters have arrived and left Sookie's life. And the books aren't episodic -- they all flow into one another, and that's part of the series' charm. This is definitely not a series where "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

Book Signing:
2 p.m. Saturday
10720 Preston Road, Suite 1018
Dallas, Texas 75230