Throw Sookie Stackhouse and Jack Reacher into a room together for an hour, who do you think would come out alive? Well at the RT Convention we got to spend an hour with Lee Child and Charlaine Harris and it was magical — and no blood was shed! The masters of suspense and paranormal talked about how they got their start, how they react to negative reader feedback and charmed the entire room. We laughed, we learned. Some of the highlights:
Lee Child and Charlaine Harris
The conversation started on a humorous (or incredibly dark, depending on who you are) note with both authors being asked how they would cover up the perfect murder. Lee started by saying, “It’s all about no evidence, you can’t leave any evidence behind.” He used the example of sinking a body in the middle of a deep lake as a crime that wouldn’t leave a trace. Charlaine brought up a great point, reminding us that “you’d have to kill someone you have no connection to” so that you wouldn’t be a suspect.
Lee and Charlaine then moved to talking shop, explaining how they got their big breaks and how long it took them to write their first books. For many authors it takes years before getting published, but Charlaine was lucky: “The first book of mine that got published was the first book I wrote…hate me now,” she told attendees. It took her eight months to write her first novel. Lee’s first published book was also the first book he ever wrote, and only took him five months to write because he got fired from his job. But just because these authors lucked out selling their first books doesn’t mean they sold them quickly. “It’s a slow build,” said Lee of his career. It was 10 years before he became a household name. Charlaine started out making very little off her writing. “I didn’t make nearly as much because I wrote conventional mysteries,” she confessed, adding that it took two years to sell her first Sookie book.
Reacher Creatures — Lee’s name for his fans — had plenty of questions about the popular Alpha hero for Lee. One fan asked if Jack would ever settle down — and he will! “He loves solitude but he doesn’t want to be lonely,” Lee told us. Jack plans on settling down with a nice lady at the end of the series according to the author. And of course, you can’t have a discussion with Lee Child now without asking about Tom Cruise. Yes, Lee did have a say in who played his character. The author told us that the film studio wanted him to be happy with the casting: “If I would’ve had a hissy fit..they would’ve canceled the whole thing.”
When it comes to the True Blood casting, Charlaine loves the actors and actresses who play her characters: “Every time I get a bank statement I’m perfectly ok with [how try cast True Blood].” We can’t argue with that!
It’s no secret Charlaine Harris and Lee Child have rabid fans who are deeply passionate about the authors’ stories. But both Lee and Charlaine have had to deal with unpleasant readers — especially online. Charlaine started getting intense negative reactions from readers a few years before the end of her Sookie Stackhouse series: “It was like I wasn’t even a person to them … I was just something producing a product.” After several death threats aimed at her and her family, Charlaine became incredibly angry (she actually dropped an F-bomb when discussing this) and no longer reads negative reviews. Lee is incredibly open and honest about his writing but draws the line at unnecessary hate: “If it’s something you would say to my face, that’s fine but don’t cross the line. Online they cross the line,” he told us. Echoing Charlaine’s earlier comment, he added: “[authors] become a brand or corporation.” But he has a great comeback in response to people who hate his books: “Think about me, I have to write this shit!” Well played, Lee.
We’ve been covering the RT Convention in New Orleans all week long, for more on the exciting happenings, click here!