Crimebake Q&A with Charlaine Harris–Summary

We watched one of Charlaine’s favorite episodes of TrueBlood with her (I Will Rise Up from Season 2) and had a Q&A about it on Friday night. Then Saturday there was a Q&A with her during lunch hosted by the Crimebake Co-chairs, Pat Remick and Margaret McLean (pictured above). These were such amazing events, I thought I’d share my notes from the Lunch Q&A.

  • Sookie was a grandma’s best friend’s name and is a nickname for Susan or sister.
  • Her advice to aspiring authors:
    • Rejection hurts and you do take it personally
    • Write the best book you can write
    • Research agents you send to so you find the right person
    • Check the agent’s website before you send a query
    • Don’t send your book out until it is ready
      • How to determine it’s ready: reach point where you know it’s mature, you put your best effort into it, and you let it go
      • Find a peer to read it and give opinion
    • The writing process is always hards
      • Starts with crying even when writing a long time
      • Have a writing routine. Go to work everyday. She works from 8-12, breaks for lunch, and writes from 1-3:30.
    • The more successful you are the more demands on your time
      • The business of being a writer takes up more and more of your time
    • There are times she laughs out loud when reading her books
    • Sex scenes are hard to write because she wants them to be good
      • One time a fan told her she liked to re-enact the scenes from the book with her boyfriend!
    • Experts like to be asked about what they are experts in. For example, a funeral home guy loved to tell her all about his job
    • If she could write any book it would be Jurassic Park
    • Her beta readers are Toni Kelner and Dana Cameron.
    • She had never had a writing critique group
    • How has being famous has changed her life? The money increased but brought along responsibilities, it’s nice to be recognized, and it’s been good for her kids
    • Her writing process is more of a pantser.
      • She edits as she goes and writes 4-8 pages a day.
        • Each day she starts by reviewing what she wrote the day before and changes things as she goes.
      • She doesn’t write an outline
    • It took 2 years for Dead Until Dark to be picked up. She didn’t write other books in series. She wrote other books she was already contracted to write
      • She was turned down very harshly. Her agent didn’t like Dead Until Dark. But her friend Dean at Murder by the Book loved it and gave it stamp of approval. It was enough to keep her agent working on selling it.
    • She’s edited several anthologies and highly recommends editing other people’s work
    • Her books are published in 25 countries
      • France had translation issues where they took out the sex scenes and any mention of menstruation. Readers were very upset and publisher had to retranslate and include those scenes
      • She keeps all her foreign rights
    • She and her editor have vision for the books–they’ve had intense discussions but never had a huge blowout
    • Harper Connelly series was optioned by CBS and a pilot show is being taped–Hope they pick it up!
    • She is contracted for two more Sookie Stackhouse books and might write a third, but she wants to end the series while it is still good. The readers deserve nothing but her best  🙂

I also had Charlaine sign a few books. She is the most gracious author I’ve ever met. For me this was the equivalent of meeting the biggest hollywood movie star. Her books inspired my writing and I go back to them constantly as a reference tool on how to write great scenes and characters. Here’s a picture of us from the Vampire Ball!

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2 Responses to Crimebake Q&A with Charlaine Harris–Summary

  1. Loren Chase says:

    I can’t express how jealous I am! I think with rejection, even though it hurts, I eat a bowl of ice cream and then send it out again. I love the rest of her advice and tidbits of info:)

    • This was the highlight of my year. I signed up for the conference the second I heard Charlaine was the guest of honor. 🙂 Rejection definitely stings, but eventually someone’s going to love the story. I wish I had recorded her voice, she’s got a southern charm and realness that comes through in every word. 🙂

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