Q&A: Charlaine Harris

Texas Spirits

Born and raised in the Mississippi River Delta area, best-selling author Charlaine Harris has been writing for more than 30 years. She published her first book, Sweet and Deadly, in 1981. After releasing traditional mysteries featuring Aurora Teagarden (a Georgia librarian) and Lily Bard (karate student and house cleaner), Harris crossed over into the paranormal genre with Sookie Stackhouse (telepathic barmaid) and Harper Connelly (death seer). Last year saw the arrival of Midnight Crossroad, the first volume in a new trilogy about an isolated Texas town whose odd and secretive residents include a vampire, a witch, and newly arrived psychic Manfred Bernardo; Harris fans will recognize Manfred as a character from her Harper Connelly series. In the second title, Day Shift (Ace: Berkley, May), a working weekend in Dallas spells big trouble for our protagonist when his client dies during a reading.

April15webMysteryQAbManfred Bernardo is a man with some very interesting secrets, but I think his new hometown may have him beat! What was your inspiration for this trilogy?

I’ve always been interested in the mystical significance of crossroads. I started imagining a small Texas town built around a crossroad with a lot of history, and when I was populating this imaginary town, I thought about the people who might be there. I figured there’d have to be a reason those people wanted to live in a dried-up place with one stoplight. I was also interested in pawnshops, and I visited a few. I figured my pawnshop would have to be a lot more eerie than a run-of-the-mill pawnshop and so would its clientele.

Did you make a conscious decision from the beginning that this series would only be three books? So many of your others extended beyond that.

After the long haul of the Sookie books, I just wasn’t in the frame of mind to commit to anything long. I think that length is working out to be a natural arc for the story I’m telling. Of course, I may get a bolt of inspiration, but right now three feels good for “Midnight.”

In the forthcoming Day Shift, trouble seems to revolve around Manfred. Will any of it carry over to the third book?

No, there are new problems in Night Shift. Even worse problems. I am merciless!

Many of the characters we meet in your new trilogy have drifted in from your other series (Sookie Stackhouse, Harper Connelly, Lily Bard). Did you find that incorporating them into the “Midnight” books easy or more difficult than you thought?

Bringing them into a story together was so much fun for me. I wanted to revisit some characters that I’d always liked and find them older and wiser and in a different place in their lives. It was a challenge for me to figure out what they’d be like now, how their worldview would have changed.

Can we have a hint at what we will see after Day Shift?

I’m working on Night Shift right now. We’ll find out a lot about why people are drawn to the crossroads, what has to be done to keep the place peaceful…and Lemuel will translate the books that were in Bobo’s possession all along. Is that enough of a forecast?—Kristi Chadwick

Kristi Chadwick is Advisor–Small Libraries for the Massachusetts Library System, South Deerfield. A longtime LJ reviewer who was a 2013 Reviewer of the Year, Chadwick is also a 2014 LJ Mover & Shaker. She can be found on Twitter @booksNyarn