Rhys very late on Wendesday evening--I've been traveling all day to the Anhinga Writer's Conference in Gainesville, FL and just come back from dinner with the rest of the faculty, including my old friend and fabulous lady Charlaine Harris. Charlaine, for those of you who have lived under a stone for the past couple of years, is the creator of the Sookie Stackhouse vampire mystery series that is now the hit HBO TV series True Blood.
Charlaine is our beacon of hope for all in the mystery world. She was a midlist mystery writer for years, writing two well-appreciated but not earth-shattering series, then she took a huge risk and wrote something that defied categorizing--a funny, sexy, Southern vampire mystery series. Most publishers didn't want to touch it. After all the mantra these days is "where does it go on the shelf?" but one publisher took the risk and the series came out to little fanfare. Then the fans found out about it and gradually by word of mouth it built up a reputation. Then HBO came to her and the rest, as they say, is history. At one time earlier this year she had six books in the top ten on the NYT list.
And the interesting thing is that the whole mystery community is delighted for her. We are always a supportive bunch, not seeing each other as rivals but as fellow pilgrims, and seeing all these good things happen for Charlaine remind us that they can happen to any of us one day.
But tonight at dinner I had a chance to see the other side of fame and fortune. Crazy people now email her and tell her how she has to write her books. She meets people who have filed their teeth into vampire fangs. She needs security when she appears in public. She has to give several interviews each week.
So maybe I'm glad that I write about genteel aristocrats in 1930s London. I don't expect crazed followers of royalty to stalk me and demand that I change my books, or obsessed historians fantasizing about Molly Murphy. I did get a hate letter once from a Welshman who claimed that I made Wales look primitive and backward in my Evan Evans books. He also said that I knew nothing about Welsh police procedure--which was funny as I'd sat down with police at headquarters in Colwyn Bay and in Caernarfon before I wrote the book.
Tomorrow I give the first of my workshops. Let's hope there are no wacky would be writers waiting for me...