Looking back on the years I’ve been writing the Sookie Stackhouse novels, it seems amazing to me that those years are drawing to a close. When I started Dead Until Dark, I had no idea where the road would take me. I didn’t know if I’d ever get to write a second book about Sookie, much less twelve more.
I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, which means I don’t plan a lot in advance. This is both my strong point and my weak point, as I see it. The books might be easier going if I knew what was going to happen, but on the other hand, I might close myself off to inspiration if I had a definite set of goals. There were lots of plot points that came to me as revelations during the writing of the books, plot points that became crucial to the progression of Sookie’s life. Bill’s perfidy, Eric’s amnesia, the cluviel dor… all these things were big surprises to me when they popped into my head.
It seemed logical to me—that as Sookie learned more about the world around her and gained in worldly knowledge and sexual experience—that her taste in sexual partners would change, too. Everything else changes for her over the course of the thirteen books. Her financial circumstances, the loss of her Gran, her brother’s turning into a werepanther… all these things change for Sookie, too. She learns a lot about being a survivor, and she learns how much she loves life. I believe the books span a bit over two years in her life, but gosh, what years they are!
When the television show debuted, there were even more factors to take into account. I didn’t let the course of True Blood change the course of the books, because Alan Ball and I were clearly heading for different goals, but of course I always watch the show. I don’t remember anyone ever suggesting I should change something in the books to conform with the show (though over the passage of all these years I’ve definitely forgotten many conversations). I do remember how astonished I was when I first saw Anna Paquin as Sookie, and how awestruck I was at the job she was doing. Seeing my characters moving and talking and embodied by such amazing actors was a thrill I’d never expected. I have friends in the cast, though our paths don’t cross often.
As the show begins its sixth season—sixth!—and I publish the final novel about my heroine, I suppose I should say I’m filled with nostalgia. In truth, I’m not. I’m looking forward to future projects and to more world building and more characters. To me, the last book is not the end of anything, but another mark of passage. I hope my readers will go with me into new adventures; I’m excited about the future.