Mississippi Writers and Musicians
MISSISSIPPI WRITERS: Charlaine Harris


Charlaine Harris Charlaine Harris

Major Works

  • Sweet and Deadly (1981)
  • A Secret Rage (1984)
  • Real Murders 1990 (First Aurora Teagarden)
  • A Bone to Pick 1993 (Second Aurora Teagarden)
  • The Julius House (1994)
  • Three Bedrooms, One Corpse 1994 (Third Aurora Teagarden)
  • The Julius House (Fourth Aurora Teagarden) June 2008
  • Dead Over Heels The fifth Aurora Teagarden
  • A Fool and HIs Honey (The sixth Aurora Teagarden)
  • Last Scene Alive (Aurora Teagarden Mysteries, Book 7)
  • Poppy Done to Death (Aurora Teagarden Mysteries, Book 8) 2003
  • Dead Over Heels (1996)
  • Shakespeare's Landlord (1997) Lily Bard Mysteries, Book 1)
  • Shakespeare's Champion (1998) The Second Lily Bard Mystery
  • Shakespeare's Christmas (1999)
  • Shakespeare's Trollop 2000 (The Fourth Lily Bard Mystery)
  • Shakespeare's Counselor 2001 (The Fifth Lily Bard Mystery)
  • Shakespeare's Landlord (Lily Bard Mysteries, Book 1) 2005
  • Dead Until Dark (2001) (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 1)
  • A Fool and His Honey (2001)
  • Living Dead in Dallas 2002 (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 2)
  • Club Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 3)
  • Dead as a Doornail (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 5
  • Definitely Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 6)
  • All Together Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 7) Mar 25, 2008
  • From Dead to Worse (Southern Vampire--Book 8 of Sookie Stackhouse)
  • Last Scene Alive ( 2002)
  • Grave Sight 2006
  • Grave Surprise (Harper Connelly Mysteries, Book 2)
  • An Ice Cold Grave (Harper Connelly Mysteries, Book 3) 2007

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Biography of Charlaine HarrisShakespeare's Landlord by Charlaine Harris
By Thea Wright (SHS)

Charlaine Harris, born on November 25, 1951, grew up in the small town of Tunica, Mississippi,with her parents and one brother.  Her parents, Robert and Jean Harris, were her strongest influences as a child. Ashley Robert Harris III, Harris's brother, died just a few years ago. Her parents still live in Tunica (Harris).

A Fool and his Money by Charlaine HarrisAt the local high school, Harris could share her thoughts with very few people and saw herself as an outcast. However, she now admits that this was only her opinion (Cresent Blues). After graduation, Harris headed to Memphis, Tennessee, to attend college (Brown). Although her parents thought she would make a good teacher, Harris went through college without knowing what she wanted to do afterwards (Cresent Blues). In 1973, Harris graduated from Southwestern at Memphis with a Bachelor of Arts degree (Brown).

Once Harris graduated from college, she went to work. From 1973 to 1974, Harris worked at the Bolivar Commercial in Cleveland, MS as an offset darkroom operator. After she left Cleveland, Harris moved to Clarksdale, Mississippi, to work as a typesetter for the Clarksdale Press Register. Harris then found work at the Delta Design Group in Greenville, Mississippi, where she was again a typesetter. Harris lived in Greenville until 1977, when she moved to Memphis to become a typesetter for Federal Express Corporation. Harris worked at Federal Express until 1978 (Brown).

Harris met her husband in 1978. He proposed on their second date (Cresent Blues). On August 5, 1978, Harris married Hal Schultz ("Charlaine Harris, 1951-"), her second husband (Cresent Blues). Although Harris did have some fertility problems (Cresent Blues), she and Hal now have three children: Patrick, Timothy, and Julia (Harris).

Since the fourth grade when she began writing poems about ghosts (McBride), Harris wanted to write (Cresent Blues). She wrote her first book, Sweet and Deadly, when her husband Hal  gave her an electric typewriter as a wedding present. A Secret Rage, her second stand-alone book, was about rape (Cresent  SHS researcher Thea Wright Blues). Harris currently writes three series: the Aurora Teagarden series about a crime solving librarian, the Lily Bard series about a cleaning woman, karate expert who also does detective work, and the Sookie Stackhouse series about a mystery-loving, telepathic waitress. The heroine of the Lily Bard series, a rape victim, reveals Harris's own obstacles she has had to overcome as a surviving victim of rape. In an interview with Cresent Blues Harris said, "It's not like you can pull your socks up and get on with it. It's not like that. It's the death of something, and you have to cope with that in different degrees, off and on, for the rest of your life." She continued, "I think rape survivors see things from a much different perspective from people who haven't had that experience." Harris also said that she uses writing to clean out her dark places (Cresent Blues).

The most influencial books for Harris are Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice, and The Fourth Wall by Barbara Paul, which changed Harris's opinion of what a woman should be. Other influential authors include Laura K. Hamilton, Katy Munger, Dennis Lehane, Andrew Vachss, and Harlan Coben (Cresent Blues).

Harris has been nominated for both the Dilys Award and the Edgar Award She s currently lives in Arkansas where she relaxes by lifting weights and reading (McBride). She is also a student of goju karate (Brown).Another interesting fact about Harris is that she has her own vampire teeth.“Once I knew it was possible to get such a thing, I couldn’t rest until I had my own fangs, Harris told Cresent Blues during an interview. Her fangs are lateral incisors and were especially made for her by the Count of Montrose (Harris). Her book, Last Scene Alive, was available in July of 2002.

2008 UPDATE: Her 1981 book Dark and Deadly (published under the name Charlaine Harris Schulz) was re-issued recently as have numerous others. Grave Sight, a new Harper Connelly Mysteries, Book 1, was published in 2006,

True Blood is HBO series which will be based on her Sookie series (Southern Vampire series). Anna Paquin wil play Sookie, Sam Trammell will play Sam, and Ryan Kwanten will be Jason.

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A Review of Dead Until Dark Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
by Thea Wright (SHS)

Welcome to Bon Temps, Louisiana; a world of vampires, shapeshifters, and telepathic waitresses.  Charlaine Harris's Dead Until Dark is a wonderfully-written, Southern vampire mystery with a twist of romance and humor.

Sookie Stackhouse,  the main character and  quirky telepathic waitress at Merlotte's bar, finds her life turned upside down when she rescues Bill Compton, the new resident vampire, from a vicious couple trying to drain his blood.  The following weeks throw Sookie into the dark world of vampires, romance, and murder.  When Sookie and Bill fall in love, it may be more than anyone bargained for.  As the town's waitresses begin getting murdered, Sookie finds herself next on the list.  It becomes clear that the murderer has a venegence for women who date men of the vampire persuasion, and all the evidence seems to point to Jason Stackhouse, Sookie's own brother.  But not only does Sookie have to balance waitressing and her detective work on the murders, she is also called in by the head vampire, Eric, to investigate the recent embezzeling at Fangtasia, the vampire bar in Shreeveport.  When Bill leaves town on vampire business and the murderer begins closing in,  Sookie is left with only a bumbling vampire named Bubba, who strangely resembles Elvis, to protect her.

Dead Until Dark gives its reader a fascinating look into a world where vampires and fang bangers (vampire groupies) walk the streets at night.  But the unnatural does not end there, it also gives an inside view into the mind of Sookie Stackhouse, a telepath who has not been able to date because of her "gift."  For those who like the supernatural, this is a great read.

Although murder, death, and vampires all have large parts in the book, humor does take its place.  Dead Until Dark portrays the author's witt and sense of Picture from Barnesandnoble.com humor through the characters, dialogue, and a not-so-bright vampire named Bubba, who appears to be Elvis,  and, strangely enough, hates to hear that name.  However, the humor in this book may not appeal to everyone, especially younger readers.

Although I would recommend Dead Until Dark to anyone who likes a good mystery, romance, the supernatural, or just wants to have a good laugh, I would not recommend it for younger readers as there is some adult language. There are also some graphic adult scenes.

I throughly enjoyed Dead Until Dark.  Harris's characters seem to come to life to tell their story themselves.  Not only are her characters interesting and full of verisimilitude (well the human ones at least), they are very easy to relate to.  The dialogue and plot are easy to follow and hold you until the very last page.  I highly recommend Dead Until Dark.

The sequel, Living Dead in Dallas, will be available April 2002. Harris is working on a third installment, which will be available in the future.

UPDATE: See major works above for all books published to date.

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Interview with Charlaine Harris 2001
by Thea Wright (SHS)

Who influenced you the most as a child?

"The strongest influenced on me as a child; hmmm.  My parents, I'm sure."

Did you want to write as a child?

"Yes, I have wanted to be a writer since I could hold a pencil in my hand."

What is the best advice you can give to aspiring writers?

"The best advice I can give aspiring writers is: read, read, read.  Read everything and anything.  Tead bestsellers and old classics, read science fiction, mystery, romance, suspense.

How did you start writing?

"Perhaps you mean, "How did you get published?"  Because I started writing by just doing it.  I've been writing since I was in the fourth grade.  It just poured out.  I got published because (during the one year I lived in St. Louis) I took a creative writing class at a community college, and the teacher happened to be a woman who'd just quit working at Houghton Mifflin.  She thought my work was good enough to recommend to her former colleagues, and that book was my first published novel, "Sweet and Deadly."

Writing three series at the same time must be hard. Which character is the most like you?  Any favorites?

"Yes, writing three series is very hard.  I will probably not write any more Lily Bard books.  The heroine most like me; well, half of Aurora Teagarden and half of Sookie Stackhouse.  Maybe a fifth of Lily Bard was like me.  No simple answers, I'm afraid.  I like all my protagonists very much."

Which writers have inspired you?

"What writers have inspired me; that's a difficult question.  There are so many I admire, but inspiration is a different thing.  Eudora Welty, of course.  Jane Austen.  The Brontes.  In the mystery field, Barbara Mertz, who writes under a couple of names; Mary Roberts Rinehart, who seems very dated now, but is still one of my favorite comfort reads; James Lee Burke, of course.  There is so much excellence in my field, it's hard to narrow it."

I understand that you are a surviving rape victim.  How has this changed your life?

"I think being a rape survivor changed my life dramatically and permanently.  I understand the value of life now, and that was something I took for granted before I was attacked and almost lost my life.  I also understand fear now,  and I discovered I had only the remotest idea of the nature of fear before the rape."

Do your characters reflect yourself?

"Yes, of course my characters reflect myself.  All of them contain a bit of me, even the nasty ones.  That is why mystery writers are, as a whole, a very relaxed group.  We get rid of hostility and tension through our writing."

Your latest book is filled with vampires.  Where did your fascination with vampires come from?

"Where did I get my fascination with vampires?  Gee, I don't know.  I've always loved ghost stories, and books with the element of the supernatural (which we in the mystery field call "woo-woo" books).  It seems a natural step from ghosts to vampires; and vampires have an added erotic thrill, which I find resonates with most women.  I can't speak for men on that."

I thought that Dead Until Dark was very funny.  Did you start out writing it as a comedy?

"Yes, I always intended that Dead Until Dark would be a comedy.  People told me for years I should try to write a book as funny as I was as a speaker, so I decided to go for it.  Besides, the other books in the field tended to be pretty solemn, so I thought I'd create my own market."

I hear you have your own pair of vampire fangs.  Where can you find those?

"I do have a wonderful pair of vampire fangs.  You can visit several websites that have options for getting the fangs made. (The Count of Montrose made mine.)  They are quite expensive, and you can get four or five styles of fangs.  I have the lateral incisors, myself.  You have to send in a mold of your teeth and a picture of your teeth close-up so the crafter can match the color.  You just slip them over your natural teeth.  Voila! A whole new look."

I was thrilled to find out that Living Dead in Dallas would be available April 2002.  Will there be any more Sookie Stackhouse books?

"Yes, Ace has signed me for two more Sookie Stackhouse books.  I am working on number three right now.  Its tentative title is Club Dead.  I hope you like Living Dead in Dallas.  The first in the series (Dead Until Dark) has been nominated for the Dilys, given by the Independant Mystery Booksellers Association, and the Agatha, for best traditional mystery novel of 2001.  I will find out in the next couple of months if I win or not;  I am very excited.  In addition, Dead Until Dark will appear in Japanese in the coming year."

Can you give your readers a hint about what to expect in Living Dead in Dallas?

"What you'll find in Living Dead in Dallas.  Well, Sookie and Bill are still linked romantically, and Sookie is loaned out to the vampires of Dallas to investigate the disappearance of one of their kind.  Before she leaves, she finds the body of the short-order cook at Merlotte's, the bar where she works, and she thinks no one will solve the mystery of his death unless she does.  It's a very lively book, and I had a great time writing it."



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Related Websites

Charlaine Harris's home page.

Read an interview with Charlaine Harris.

Barnes and Noble lists all Harris's books.

Aurora's Teagarden, a website for fans of Charlaine Harris's Aurora Teagarden series.

Read a summary of Dead Until Dark.

Read a review of Dead Until Dark.

Leave a message at the Charlaine Harris message board.

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Bibliography

Brown, Bonny, Webmaster.“Did You Know that Charlaine Harris.”Stop, You’re Killing Me! A Website to Die for if You Love Mystery Books!1998-2000. Stop, You’re Killing Me! March 4, 2002. <http://www.stopyourekillingme.com/Bio/bio-Charlaine-Harris.html>.

“Charlaine Harris, 1952-.”Arkansas Authors Index.March 2, 2002. <http://coe.uca.edu/ArkansasAuthorsIndex/harris.html>.

Cresent Blues.“Charlaine Harris: Putting the Bite on Cozy Mysteries.”Volume 4, Issue 4.1998, 1999, 2000, 2001.Cresent Blues, Inc.March 2, 2002. <http://www.cresentblues.com/4_4issue/int_charlaine_harris.shtml>.

Harris, Charlaine.Dead Until Dark.New York: Ace Books, 2001.

Harris, Charlaine.E-mail interview. 2001

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Last updated in January 2008
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