Charlaine Harris on Tempest Rising

As some of you know, the book that inspired me to write Tempest Rising was Ms. Harris’s fifth book in the Southern Vampire Mystery series, Dead as a Doornail:

This was not the first urban fantasy I’d ever read, although when I was reading the genre that name did not exist. When I was a child, it was simply a weird sort of fantasy being published by Charles de Lint and Mercedes Lackey. Back then, to find Anne Rice, one needed to wander out of Fantasy and over to Horror, where she was shelved with Stephen King. Now Rice and King are both housed in Fiction, and other writers have come along claiming to have single-handedly spawned urban fantasy, ignoring de Lint and Lackey.

Despite my very early reading in the genre, however, I hadn’t read any popular fiction in a very long time. For I’d been doing my Ph.D., and reading  mostly “serious literature.” So after I’d sat my defense, it was almost with a sense of shock that I realized, while wandering around a bookstore with my brother and his children, that I could buy whatever book I wanted. I didn’t have to slog through Philip Roth’s latest ode to his aging penis, or another postmodern experiment by Martin Amis. I could read anything in that store, unapologetically and without feeling guilty for “wasting” time I could be researching.

So I wandered over to Fantasy. Once there, I didn’t even know where to begin. Where once Lackey had a handful of novels, now she had about three shelves. I didn’t even remember which ones I’d read. I also, if I am completely honest, felt a little embarrassed looking at the neon, buxomy elven warriorresses draped over most of the covers.

Then my niece joined me and I did what any self-respecting doctor of English literature does when choosing a book: I asked a five-year-old for help. She pointed to a book at just about her eye level that had an adorable cover. “Buy that,” she said, and I had to acquiesce. The cover looked like folk art, and the young woman being carried by the vaguely Count Chocula-looking vampire was wearing a sparkling green dress.

“So cute,” I said, putting it in my basket. Then we picked out some more “cute” books, till I had enough to get me through my flight back to Edinburgh, where I was living at the time.

Sitting on that flight, reading Dead as a Doornail, I experienced a sensation I’d never felt before. It was one of connection: not just with the character, or the plot, or the genre, but with the tone of the book. For it was the tone of Harris’s novel that made me think, “Wow, I could do this. Not this book, obviously, but a book that feels like this.”

For what I felt while reading Sookie’s story was that it was real. This was a woman like women I knew, reacting in a “normal,” human way to absolutely abnormal circumstances. She wasn’t automatically reaching for a sword, or a glock; she was sweating, and scared, and doing her best not to faint, panic, or (god forbid) get herself killed.

In other words, she wasn’t a hero long familiar with the hero business. And even better, she took herself with a grain of salt.

Jane came to me then, almost fully formed, and dying to tell her story. I was just as surprised as everyone when I wrote her book, and I still can’t believe that book became a real book, sitting in the same section of stores as Misty and de Lint.

It was just over a year and a half ago that I read Dead as a Doornail, and things have moved so fast since then. I’ve had so many amazing experiences related to publishing Tempest Rising, but one of the biggest treats was finally meeting Ms. Harris, at a dinner party in Alpharetta, Georgia, and discovering she’s just as lovely and charming as her books. And yes, I did geek out on her. Realistically, Jane would have come out some way or another, but reading Sookie’s story definitely acted as a catalyst. I owe Ms.  Harris so very much, and that’s what I tried to tell her, awkwardly, over warm-artichoke dip while Mark Henry looked at me like, “If you go all stalker-fan, I’m pretending I don’t know  you.” Charlaine was, however, very gracious about everything, and I got to see her again at a signing in Shreveport, where I slipped her cupcakes. And a copy of my book.

The cupcakes paid off, and it is with an enormous amount of pleasure that I read Ms. Harris’s review of Tempest Rising, on New Year’s Eve, just before midnight.

Happy New Year to me . . . 🙂

Posted by Nicole Peeler

Author, Professor, Lover, Fighter

19 thoughts on “Charlaine Harris on Tempest Rising”

  1. Hey, that's a really cool story! I had no idea it all went so fast for you! And even though Ms. Harris doesn't like the cover – I adore it! It's one of the reasons I picked it up in the first place. I am so eager for more Jane True!

  2. That's so awesome, Nicole! I'm so happy for you- that's the kind of thing most people only dream about…I love it when dreams come true 🙂 May 2010 bring even more success and adventures! Cheers!

  3. I must say it was the cover that attracted me to your book. After that I read the first page and I knew I had to buy it! I would totally go stalker-fan on you if we ever met! 🙂

  4. Even though Ms Charlaine didn't like your cover, it seems that a lot of people do, including me. I loved her original covers as well, it seems they're being changed to something "more modern" now with True Blood mentioned. I think it's awesome that she read your book and had nice things to say about it. Congratulations.

  5. I love Charlaine Harris! But I gotta say- the cover is definately what first attracted me to Tempest Rising and I really love it. It's very original and eye catching 🙂

  6. This is fabulous. I'm so pleased to have read this, specially the Lackey/de Lint bit…and I'll have you know that your book was the single best selling volume in the Sci-fi section where I work this holiday season… you sold better than Ms. Harris. Bravo.

  7. Had no clue that the Sookie books inspired you. I read about Tempest Rising on the Smart Bitches Trashy Books (don't let the name fool you-they review some dynamite fantasy books such as yours as well as romance) site. My daughter and I both work at Powells Books in Portland and she writes from time to time for the Smart Bitches site. She had an article on it and your book cover got my attention immediately. Mentioned it to her after I had ordered a copy and she said she had an ARC she would bring me. I could not put it down. Yes, it did remind me of Sookie but it is a very different story than hers – but these ladies are both so real to me. Amazing book, keep it up – we are all anxious for more of Jane!

  8. Cat: Yeah, it's been nuts. From academic to urban fantasist/academic in a year. ;-)I'm so glad you enjoyed the book and I think they're just getting better as I write. I'm finally getting the hang of this author thang.

    Thanks RK! You're the best! And I fixed the link. For some reason I've had that happen a few times on vacation when I blogged here and at the League . . . I blame my mother's antedeluvian computer. LOL Happy New Year!

    Thanks Colby! And I have no doubt you'll achieve yours, as well. I LOVE the name of your blog, btw. 🙂

    Lis: I'll keep that in mind! *hires bodyguards* LOL I'm really glad you were drawn in by the cover and I'm even happier you liked what was inside. 🙂 Happy New Year!

    Thanks Barbara! I was so chuffed to see her review. And I totally agree with you on the covers. I was actually hand selling Charlaine's book to someone at B&N yesterday after I went in to autograph stock (still not good at selling my own book, btw). Anyway, the girl was standing there trying to figure out which book was #1 (I had no idea when I bought my first Sookie book; that's how I ended up reading number five first), so I gave her that, then #2 and #3. The #1 was the new HBO cover, but I dug through the shelf till I found the old one and said, "I don't know about you, but I'd rather have the original cover." She took one look and said, "Oh yes yes." LOL They're SUCH great covers!

    Bella Jane: Thank you! I do love it. I think people of a certain generation, or people unfamiliar with artists inspired by manga (such as Mary Ryder, Tara McPherson, etc) are going to be a bit horrified by it. LOL It's just so different, and (especially in the cover's original incarnation, which is on Sharon Tancredi's site and is MY favorite version) Jane looks totally, utterly vulnerable and I think that bothers people. But it's honest; Jane IS vulnerable. Anyway, I'm glad you like it. I do too. 🙂

    Krys: Thanks! And are you sure it wasn't my mother? I swear to god she bought out every store in a 50 mile radius. I kept going in to places and they'd be like, "You're mom bought them. All." LOL I worry there's like 8 people who have bought it, other than my mother, so I'm happy to hear you say that. Unless you work in a book store near Chicago. . .then it WAS my mother. 😉

    Awww, thanks Annebonnie! And I've read Smart Bitches, I really like that site. I know that our publicist, Alex Lencicki at Orbit, is a great admirer of theirs. And I'm so glad you thought there were similarites with Sookie's story, as it's that "realness" I found in Sookie that I wanted to bring to Jane. But it's always a crapshoot when you write something such as, "If you like Sookie Stackhouse, you'll love…" I have one one-starred review on Goodreads that's basically like, "I thought I'd read more about Sookie but this girl isn't Sookie!" On the one hand, that's a faintly ridiculous response . . . on the other hand, the cover blurb sets up that response. LOL So marketing, like love, is a fickle tool. 😉 Anyway, I'm very glad you enjoyed it. And did Smart Bitches ever review it? I'd love to see the review if they did . . . OH and I'll be in the north west in August, maybe I can set up and event at Powell's? I can try to drag up some of Team Seattle. 🙂

  9. Nicole! Dude! This is sweet news! So happy for you, and how exciting, I smiled the entire time I read this post of yours. It's great to see where inspiration can come from. Happy 2010!

  10. OMG she didn't like the cover? I LOVE the covers. She did like the book though so that is very cool. You behaved much better than I would if I had met a writer I loved that much. Just wondering though– are you saying it would be okay to stalk, let's say, you IF I bribed you with food? Not that I would stalk you because I don't leave my state that often:)

  11. Hi Nicole! This post really resonates with me. I had a similar experience while reading Harris' books. She is a big reason why I am finishing up my first novel right now! I can't wait to read your book and pick up the next Sookie Stackhouse novel when it comes out:) What are some of your other favorite authors?

    Best,

    Corinne

  12. Thanks ChristaCarol! 🙂 And same to you! Happy New Year's!

    Brenda: LOL As I put on her facebook, the covers are like Marmite, people either love 'em or hate 'em. I love them, too. And if you fed me you wouldn't have to stalk me, I come out into the open for food. LOL

    Corine: That fantastic! Good luck on your novel! And to be honest I don't read a lot in the genre . . . but I DO read a lot of Philip Roth, Martin Amis, D.H. Lawrence . . .LOL And my old tried and true favorites are definitely Charles de Lint, Mercedes Lackey, and David Eddings. T=

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